A newspaper reader can obtain a lot of information regarding local, national and international affairs from a single issue of newspaper.
A newspaper caters to the needs of different readers by publishing various types of news such as political, economic, social, scientific, and developmental, sports, criminal, religious, etc.
Although there is more mental effort in reading a newspaper than watching a television and listening the radio news programme, yet the efforts is worthwhile.
In a way, we can say that the newspapers are the written record of our contemporary civilization. The increasing literacy in the developing countries and the suburban spread of cosmopolitan cities has led to the creation of many new daily newspapers.
There are different sizes of newspapers, some are small and some are big. A small newspaper may be employing only a few persons, whereas big newspaper may be employing many persons with a daily circulation of several lakh copies.
Whether newspapers are large sized or small sized, all of them are printed by type and ink on newsprint. The main purpose of the press is to inform and influence the people who read it.
Into the pages of every newspaper go an essential but intangible extra ingredient, the minds and the spirits of the men who produce it. Journalism work is like an adventure which is full of fresh experiences and unexpected developments take place every day.
No doubt, there is a firm discipline involved in the bringing out of a newspaper, because every issue of newspaper should be printed in time so that it can reach its subscribers and the news stands at the fixed time.
The regularity and punctuality in printing a newspaper or a journal can only maintained if a definite work pattern is followed in all departments.
There are innumerable exciting things that can happen in the production of a newspaper. The reporters feel the stimulation of being on the inside of big developments, of watching history being made.
They also have the thrill of meeting important and interesting persons. Similarly in those persons who on the advertising and circulation side, there is the satisfaction that in conceiving executing ideas they bring in money and influence the people through their skill with the word. By working in a newspaper a person has lot of opportunities to create ideas and put them to work.
The successful newspapermen handle the necessary routine connected with the production of newspaper meticulously these people always try to bring to their jobs an extra element of creative thinking.
Such persons cannot remain in the newspaper business for a long period, for which there is no excitement in the atmosphere of journalistic activities.
The press performs a very important role as a means of mass communication media in the modern world. The press tries to inform its readers objectively about what is happening in their community, country, and the world at large.
To bring certain developments into focus, editorial comments on the news are also given regularly. Now-a-days the newspapers also provide the means whereby persons with goods and services can sell and advertise their goods.
The newspapers also play an important role in eliminating the undesirable conditions prevailing in the society. Sometimes the newspapers carry on campaigns for some highly desirable civic projects for the service of the society.
Newspaper the Source of Entertainment:
For the entertainment of their readers the newspapers publish comic strips, special features, interesting columns written by famous columnists etc. Sometimes, certain newspapers also act as friendly counsellors for their readers.
They also give them information regarding specific matters through question and answer columns. The newspapers also act as the champions of the rights of the citizens. Whenever the rights of the individuals are infringed they come to their rescue.
Sometimes the newspapers also expose the corruption prevailing in the ruling circle or the high society. For example, the Watergate scandal was brought to light by two young reporters of “Washington Post”- Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
When the press plays such an important role in the society, it becomes integral part of it. The newspaper has become so much a part and parcel of our life that we cannot do without it.
A strike in the daily newspapers create an all round confusion in the economic, social and political activities of the community.
A regular subscriber of a newspaper feels very lonely if he does not receive his newspaper even for a single day. Without his daily newspaper a person feels as if he has missed something or lost something.
There is no doubt that the printed word has a permanent and lasting impression whereas as spoken word or a visual image has only transitory effect. In the case of printed word reader can refer to it time and again.
Newspaper clippings of important news, comments, stories and happening can be preserved in a reference file for future consultation. In this way, we see that presently newspapers play a very important role in our society.
The Press as a Mass Media:
The main function of the press is to communicate news along with the editorial opinion. As a media of information, we can even call the press as an important adjunct to the school as an educational institution.
In fact, now more and more opinion is veering round to the point that journalism should be considered as medium of education and mass communication.
Every newspaper has a point of view which is reflected both in its news columns, on the editorial page and, to some extent in the columns of its syndicated writers.
Although, the fiercely partisan press of the past has more or less disappeared, it is still difficult to discover a newspaper which is completely neutral.
Every newspaper as a free medium should have a point of view and should interpret the news in depth. There is no doubt that it must maintain a balance and an integrity in which the news is not slanted or tilted completely.
Similarly, the editorial while taking a position should not be false or misleading. Some degree of partisanship is always there, but it should not be done at the cost of dissemination of truth.
There is always a point where espousal should stop, so that accuracy of information can be maintained.
A newspaper which becomes too much involved in the advocacy of its partisan views loses its audience, because it compromises its main function of the communication of information. In fact, just like other professions there should be code of ethics or code of conduct even for the journalists.
The press has to function within the framework of the laws in every country. Generally, under a democratic government a newspaper is not prohibited from printing any information, provided it is not libelous, slanderous or obscene.
No doubt, in times of war or during some national emergency the newspapers should impose some self-censorship, because the press is also responsible for what it prints. It is also susceptible to the laws of libel.
The press as an institution suffers from the same limitations and restrictions as any other media or social institution.
Freedom of the press is also subject to a continuing struggle, a continuing appraisal and a constant effort by pressure groups to erode it. Freedom of the press does not imply license to print anything and everything.
It is always subject to legal reviews as well as to the pressure of public opinion. Generally, the rule of reason prevails over the press and it stops short of engaging in activities which are contrary both to the laws and public interest.
It is not the democratic society alone which has made freedom possible for the press. The press and other media are also equally responsible for the successful functioning of democracy. The press and the mass media are most powerful sources in the society for creating an informed public opinion.
There is no doubt that the relations between the press and the government have always been delicate and full of troubles. It is due to the lack of trust between the government and the press that the credibility gap comes into existence between the government and the people.
Duties of Government in favour of Press:
It is necessary for the government that it should allow free access to the news reporters to perform their functions regarding the collection of news. The newspapers have always argued vigorously to preserve their right to receive and report the news freely.
Sometimes, the newspapers and other media are accused of misreporting the news. Certain reporters of newspapers have also been accused of giving a tilt to their stories in favour of certain parties or certain personalities. Sometimes, the owners of the newspapers have been criticised for harassing certain reports for their objective and true reports criticising a particular point of view.
Fortunately, these cases are not very many and public opinion is always against such misdemeanor either on the part of the journalist or the press.
There is no doubt that conscientious journalists would always resist the pressure either from the editors or the owners to slant their news.
Even the self-respecting editors would not like use any pressure on their reporters to give coloured news.
But sometimes, the owners of the press who have certain other industrial interests also use certain pressures on the reporters to safeguard their own selfish interests.
It is also sometimes alleged that the government exerts pressure on the press overtly or covertly which is a big danger to the existence of free press. The attitude of the government of the day is very important for the existence of free press.
Every government must remember that the more difficulties it places in the path of the reporter in gaining access to the news, the greater will be the credibility gap between it and the press.
It is the duty of the press to make all efforts to get the news and report it to the public impartially. Maintenance of a healthy interaction between the press and the society and between interaction the newspaper and its readers is the basis of a truly democratic society.