(Last Updated on : 22/02/2014)
Indian press is said to be the largest section of print media in the globe. Indian printing houses publishes more daily newspapers than any other country in Asia, covering a range of languages and educational diversity that is unmatched in the world. A survey in 2000, said that there were over 27,000 newspapers and periodicals in India that were published in 93 languages. Some 5,000 dailies were read by more than 100 million readers in 14 languages. However in a nation with a high rate of illiteracy, the effects of these newspapers and periodicals in those days were limited to an elite audience.
The history of Indian press started in 1780, with the publication of the Bengal Gazette from Calcutta. James Augustus Hickey is known as the "father of Indian press", since he started the first Indian newspaper from Calcutta, the Calcutta General Advertise or the Bengal Gazette in January, 1780. In 1789, the first newspaper from Bombay, the Bombay Herald appeared, followed by the Bombay Courier in the next year. Similarly, newspapers started flourishing in various parts of the nation in regional languages. The first newspaper in an Indian language was the Samachar Darpan in Bengali. Eenadu was a Telugu daily which was started by Ramoji Rao.
Later, increase in the literacy rate had direct positive effect on the rise of circulation of the regional papers. The people were primarily educated in their mother tongue according to their state in which they resided. Thus, the regional newspapers gained immense popularity in this period. Indian press circulated the regional papers in several editions for a particular
State for complete localisation of news for the reader to connect with the paper. The regional papers aim at providing localised news for their readers. Even advertisers saw the huge potential of the regional paper market, either due to their own research and more due to the efforts of the regional papers, thus making the advertisers aware of the huge market.
Indian newspapers are owned mainly by individuals or by private firms and, in this sense, Indian press is relatively free from government control. A magazine boom occurred in India during the late 1970s, as newly founded newsmagazines like India Today capitalised on Indian readers' unfulfilled requirements for news and other information during the Emergency years of 1975 to 1977, when press freedom was revoked. This prosperity of Indian press occurred because of improvements in printing technology and the sale of commercial advertising, especially color advertisements, which greatly enhanced the appealing touch of the magazines. Detailed, investigative news coverage by magazines also provided an attractive alternative to most newspaper coverage.
In the late 1980s and the 1990s, Indian newspapers also underwent a facelift in order to move parallel with magazines and with the development of television, which represents a major contestant for advertising revenues. Insensitive political coverage has been scaled down and colorful features on lifestyles, business, and entertainment were added. During the 1990s, many publishing groups, like Living Media Private Limited - publishers of India Today, something like Time and Newsweek in the U.S. and Bennett Cole-man - publishers of The Times of India moved into the production of television programs and launched Internet portals, thus gaining a wider audience as compared to the print media.
Indian press is playing a major role in contemporary India. Starting from the delivery of news and displaying of advertisement, newspapers plays a vital role in the everyday life of Indians. Despite of the advent of several media houses and private newspaper agencies, the basic principles of Indian press still holds a firm patriotic pride and honour. The major national dailies like The Statesman, The Telegraph, Times of India, The Asian Age, The Economic Times and others are read all over the country; while the regional newspapers have found profound audience in their respective regions.