Essay on the Development of Print Media in India

During British period, there was an early demand for free press made by Raja Rammohan Ray and British Journalists in India like James Silk Buckingham.

As a result, newspapers were rooted in the British territories by the administration, not allowing any criticism or inconvenient or embarrassing news irrespective of the professional quality of the newspaper.

The 19th century marked the emergence of two other categories of newspapers. One started by the Serampor Missionaries as the cultural arms of British imperialism, attacking Indian religions and their philosophies and Indian culture. The other category consisted of newspapers started by Indians.

Gradually these news papers became the tools of freedom movement and played an active role-in India's cultural renaissance and reformation in the country. Indian newspapers grew in both quality and quantity since the information and news needs of the people also grew due to socio-cultural controversies of that period.

Raja Rammohan Ray ceased publishing his paper later in protest against the Government's Press Regulations.

The Bombay Samachar, a Gujarati Newspaper, appeared in 1812. By 1850, other vernacular papers also started. By 1885 The Times of India. The pioneer, The Madras Mail,

The Statemen and the Amrit Bazar Patrika came into existence - all except the last edited by Englishmen and serving the interests of English Educated Readers. In 1910, The Indian Press act clamped further controls due to which vernacular press suffered the most.

World War I introduced still more severe press laws, but there was no let-up in nationalist agitations. During 2nd World War, Indian press played key role in reporting the struggle for freedom.

According to Kumar (1989), "It opposed communal riots and the partition of the country, and when partition did take place in the glorious year of independence, lamented it. Indeed, it could be said that the press played no small part in India's victory to freedom."(67)

Free India constitution provided the citizens right to freedom of speech and expression, which included the freedom of the press. However, unlike Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru, Mrs. Indira Gandhi was always at unease with the press. Even during emergency in 1975 when pre-censorship was imposed, underground presses were active.

Today print media have grown enormously both in terms of dailies and periodicals and their circulation which is known as the periodical or magazine explosion.

In the Western World, the explosion of newspapers came with the passion for power.

In India, popular journalism grew from the revolt of the subject class. Newspapers were a vehicle of the freedom struggle. Most media owners of the 50's had their roots in the freedom struggle.

Indian journalism after independence continued to carry the hall mark of missionary work, as though the social responsibility associated with publishing outweighed all commercial considerations.

The need for systematic changes in the format or design of the newspapers was not felt for a long time. However, there were global technology shifts. In the '70s, hot metal printing gave way to offset technology and the color printing became cheap.

The big changes took place in '90s, with the increasing consumerism, press advertising volume grew three times over, from Rs. 800 crore to Rs. 2,600 crore in the first five years of the decade.

The national dailies sectionalized their editorial offering, adding gloss and glamour with the purpose of drawing advertisement from the white goods and services sector. Looks and readability wise, the quality of newspapers and magazines have improved.

The publishing industry in India has moved a long way from it's, socially committed roots. All this does not mean that investigative journalism is dead. Newspapers and magazines are indeed breaking far more stories on corruption than ever before.

This forces the print media system to become increasingly accountable. Publishers have understood the fact that truth can be reported only if message and medium are market driven.

The number of dailies has steadily increased in India. The number of daily newspapers in 1994 increased to 4043 from 3740 in 1993 thereby registering an increase of about 8.1%. Between 1985 and 1994, the number of dailies increased by 124.36%.

During 1994, newspapers were published in as many as 99 languages/dialects including few foreign languages. Hindi newspapers constitute the largest group in the country.