Newspapers, as their name suggests, provide us with News. With the spread of education, the popularity and importance of newspapers have increased by leaps and bounds. Everybody today wants to read a newspaper.
Those who cannot read themselves want others to read it out to them. Even in a backward country, like India, newspapers have become very popular. They are published in English, Hindi, Urdu and in all other regional dialects of the country. They are read, or listened to, with great interest by everybody. They exercise a profound influence on the minds of the people.
The most important function of newspapers is to bring us news of the world. News is their chief interest and charm. They tell us what is happening not only in our country by in other countries of the world as well. Without newspapers, we would be like a frog in a well who knows nothing of the outside world.
In a democratic country, like India, they are an important means of forming public opinion. They comment on current events and criticize or appreciate the conduct of the government. It is through them that the public comes to know of the problems that face the country and the different possible ways of solving those problems. They, thus, educate the public mind and enable the people to have their own opinion on matters of public importance. They, thus, make democracy possible. Everyone must read newspapers. This is essential for national integration. This is essential to keep down fissiparous tendencies.
Besides this, the newspapers are also an important means of communication between the government and the people. It is through the newspapers that the government places its programmes, its policies, and its achievements, before the people. The public also uses them to express its dissatisfaction with the government. They voice the grievances of the people and suggest measures of reform. Thus, by expressing public opinion they serve as a check on the government. They are essential for the proper functioning of democracy. The press is all powerful in a democracy. A free press is essential for its success.
Newspapers are also an important means of advertisement. They help trade and commerce. If a trade or an industrialist wants to increase his business, he can do so by advertising his goods in the newspapers. They help both the employer and the employees through their ‘wants’ columns. The large number of advertisement of every kind is a clear proof of the popularity of the newspapers as a means of advertisement.
But the newspapers have some drawbacks also. They serve as a means of propaganda for the various political parties. Often views and comments are expressed through them that confuse the people and misguide them. The people fail to understand the truth. Sometimes, news are even twisted and distorted. At other times, they stir up class hatred. They sow seeds of communal quarrels. This misuse of newspapers did much to encourage agitations in Gujrat, Bihar and other parts of the country. Often they publish wrong advertisements which deceive and cheat the people and corrupt the public taste by giving indecent pictures and advertisements.
But these disadvantages are nothing in comparison with their manifold advantages. They are really of great use for the people. So they should be encouraged in every way. On the whole, the habit of reading newspapers is a good one.