Newspapers are a nostalgia to many, a habit to others, and a kind of familiar daily presence to millions worldwide.
Reading patterns vary too. Some glance through the headlines, others religiously follow political developments, a few open straight to the sports page and a comparative minority study the editorials.
One thing is sure. The supremacy of newspapers will continue unchallenged for many more years to come. Given that online newspapers and its consumption are increasing by leaps and bounds; traditional newspapers have to make changes in presentation styles, appearance, and bring variety in content and even paper size. This many newspapers are doing successfully too.
However there is one area that has hit bad times. That is the credibility factor. In the past, news that came in a major newspaper had the ring of authority to it. But with sting operations, paid news, and political biases strongly influencing reporting patterns; objectivity, truth, and fact sometimes if not often is compromised.
But that will not take away anything from newspapers being a watchdog in democratic setups. It is often called the Fourth Estate; the other powers being the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Newspapers can voice the passionate plea of the masses, mobilize public opinion in favour or against Governments and also rally people behind worthy social movements. One reason why dictators turn against newspapers and try to silence the dissenting voices.
In the modern era, journalists often face risks and loss of lives in trying to bring us the truth. On the other hand sometimes the newspapers and more often its audio visual counterparts try to take judicial roles by indulging in media interrogation. One area newspapers can and should show restraint is when it comes to matters of privacy. The story of Princess Diana hunted down to her death by Paparazi is a case in point
Mention should also be made of the huge employment given to hundreds of thousands of people. Be it core journalism, advertising or even agents who distribute papers locally. Who can forget the fairy tale kind of scripting of Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam’s story of becoming President of India from being a newspaper boy in Rameswaram collecting the newspaper bundles thrown out on the platform from a moving train!
Yet another thought that is nostalgic is how many brands became household names and giants through advertising in newspapers. During a time when internet and television and mobile phones had not made its impact advertising was a key in building business empires. Even today that magic is not completely lost.
Finally, some memories cannot be wiped out. The scenes of village folks gathering together over a cup of coffee or tea with spread out newspapers to discuss, debate and formalize opinion will remain in mind for a long time to come.
Yes friends, reading and newspapers will continue. Even when day by day news portraying the bad side of human behaviour is on the increase; man’s eternal wait for good news will someday be realized.