Importance of Newspapers
Newspapers are a great power in themselves. They are a great power to be reckoned with so much so that even very mighty and influential persons in politics, industries, or social life cannot dare to face their hostility. Their freedom and power is of vital significance in democratic countries like the U.S.A. and India. They work as the watchdogs of democracy, human rights, and individual freedom. They fill the gap between the public and the government and administration by working as a bridge and meaningful means of dialogue.
They are not only one of the mass media but much more. They keep the public informed about the policies, programs, and planning of the government and record the people’s reactions, views, opinions, etc. They help in making public opinion as nothing else can do. Personal freedom is the essence of democracy and it is reflected in the freedom and influence of the press and the newspapers. Newspapers should have full freedom to criticize, condemn, warn, encourage and appreciate the workings of the government based on their merit. It is the vigilant and investigative journalism and brave, fearless, and daring newspapers which have exposed many scandals, scams, misdeeds, and corruption of the governments throughout the globe.
As such, newspapers carry a great responsibility and accountability. But there is no room for yellow journalism, biased reporting, sensationalism, favoritism, or unethical practices. They have to be impartial, objective, fair, fearless, investigative, and responsive to public obligations. They should never try to thrive on sensational, distorted, and motivated news, views, interviews, editorials, etc. They should never misuse their rights, privileges, and powers. It is said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The press should always keep this universal truth in mind and never indulge in character assassination, favoritism, untruths, half-truths, and exaggerated reporting. Newspapers can be an instrument of great public good or evil. Press can help in promoting communal harmony, national unity, integrity, brotherhood, removal of superstitions, and other social evils like dowry, untouchability, casteism, gender bias, etc. On the other hand, if abused and misused they can be an instrument of rumors, communal hatred, bloodshed, disintegration, riots, conflicts, and schism.
The journalism in India has come of age and so the newspapers have been discharging their duties and responsibilities fairly well and appreciably. We cannot think of life without newspapers. They have become almost as essential as our daily morning tea or breakfast. If there is a strike of newspapers for some reason even for a day, the readers miss them very much. They feel a sort of void in their daily life and the uneasiness can be seen writ large on their faces. They are the cheapest and a very rich source of the latest news, information, views, comments, commodity quotes, bullion rates, stock market positions, government policies and programs, and much more.
They bring the whole world to the readers’ doorsteps and keep their knowledge updated and upgraded. They are virtually an encyclopedia of day-to-day knowledge. They have leading articles, editorials, interviews, comments, and reviews which are a good source of public enlightenment. The ads about vacancies, cultural activities, sales, marriages, hobbies, lost and found articles, etc. are of great importance to the general public. Newspapers bring people closer and nearer to one another and serve a great social, cultural, and national purpose. The news about games and sports, crimes, accidents, local issues, books, cinema, etc. is also of much value and significance. They have become so important that even illiterate people want them to be read to them. Many people have become literate only because they themselves wanted to read the newspapers at their will independently.
In India today there are daily newspapers in English, Hindi, Urdu, and all other regional languages. Besides dailies, there are weeklies, fortnightlies, and monthlies. During the last three years, the number of daily newspapers has grown to about 6,700 from 7,800. The number of Hindi newspapers is the highest followed by Urdu. In English, there are about 300 dailies. The expansion in circulation, number of publications, and readership reflect their great popularity. With further expansion of education and literacy in the coming years, there would be more and more appreciable increases in terms of their circulation, readership, and publication. The liberalization of the economy, globalization of industries popularity of stock markets, etc. augurs well for the newspapers. In spite of electronic media like television, the hold of newspapers on the public will remain firm and fast.