PRINT MEDIA, THEN AND NOW

Indian print media has a history dating back to 29th January 1780 -the day, the first news paper ‘The Bengal Gazette’ was published by James Augustus Hicky under the British Raj — ‘The Bengal Gazette’ was also called as ‘Calcutta General Advertiser’ as it was a small two sheet newspaper published weekly, where the front page was full of advertisements by the nomenclature ‘Calcutta General Advertiser’ —people were also calling it as ‘Hicky’s Gazette’. After a few months of Hicky’s paper launch- in November 1780 ‘Indian Gazette’ was launched by Messer B Messinck and Peter Read —— then after, ‘Calcutta Gazette’ in 1784, The Bengal Journal in 1785, in the same year 1785 ‘Madras Courier’ by Richard Johnson, in 1789 ‘Bombay Herald’ and ‘Bombay Courier’, in 1791 ‘Bombay Gazette, in 1795 ‘Madras Gazette’ by R. William, and ‘India Herald’ in 1796 by Humphrey were launched. During this period all these publications were censored under strict control of the government, and due to this no reputed journalist or news-daily emerged in late 18th and early 19th century.

In the year 1811 few merchants of Calcutta launched ‘Calcutta Chronicle’ the editor of which was James Silk Buckingham — James initiated fair practice journalism and started covering native issues of domestic people and their lives — he started addressing evils of ‘Sati’ practice —— in the year 1822, Raja Ram Mohan Roy (known as the Father of Indian Renaissance) started ‘Sambad Kaumudi’, and wrote series of articles advocating prohibition of ‘Sati Pratha’ and stressed The East India Company administration to pass a law and put complete ban on this illicit practice throughout its jurisdiction in British India. For public awareness, in his article writing Raja Ram Mohan Roy emphasised on interpretation of scriptures and argued that Vedas and Hindu scriptures never sanction Sati —— finally, the Sati act was declared illegal and punishable by court via Sati Regulation Act XVII A. D. 1829 of the Bengal Code. Knowing the power of print medium Raja Ram Mohan Roy also campaigned and suppressed many other social evils like: Child marriage, female-infanticide, and Polygamy. On 3rd November, 1838 the first edition of The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce was published, in the beginning it was published twice a week: on Wednesdays and Saturdays — J. E. Brennan -a retired Irish doctor and secretary of Bombay Chambers of Commerce, was its first editor —— later in 1850 the news paper became a daily. In the year 1859, the new editor Robert Knight amalgamated this ‘The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce’ with two more leading newspapers: ‘Bombay Standards’ and ‘Chronicle of Western India’, and founded ‘Bombay Times and Standard’. And, then on 28th September 1861 (two-years later) Knight further merged this ‘Bombay Times and Standard’ with ‘Bombay Telegraph & Courier’ and renamed the news daily to ‘The Times of India’, and released its first edition. In the year 1857, news dailies owned by Indians and British were divided —— in 1868, two brothers: Shishir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh started ‘Amrit Bazar Patrika’ —— The Vernacular Press Act was passed in 1876 —— ‘The Hindu’ started in the year 1878 having its circulations mainly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In the year 1881, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak founded ‘Kesari’ news daily in Marathi language — he used to run two newspapers, Kesari in Marathi and ‘Maharatta’ in English. The Press Trust of India started in 1946, and post Independence there were many changes that took place in Indian print media.

As per records dated 31st March 2018, India had over 1,00,000 registered publications with Registrar of Newspapers for India — as of year 2018 with combined circulation of over 240 million print-copies, India stands as the world’s second-largest newspaper market. Today, India publishes around 1000 news dailies in Hindi language, and their total circulation is around 80 million copies. According to Indian Readership Survey (IRS) quarter-one (Q1) data, total readership of Indian newspaper has grown to 425 million readers, from 407 million readers of that year 2017.