Short Speech on the Future of Journalism in India

1. Some of the ideals that the journalist must keep before himself in meeting the challenge of the future are freedom of expression, the ideal of service, the ideal of efficiency, equality of opportunity and the ideal of co-operation.

2. The maintenance of high standards is inextricably bound up with the question of the new set-up in the field of journalism. The Commission may enquire into several suggestions which have been made.

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3. These include ownership of newspapers by public limited liability companies, cooperatives, or public trusts.

4. The party paper should be recognised as inevitable in a democracy. The non-party and non-partisan paper, however, should be the ideal. It should be a medium for providing an impartial record of news and for giving a courageous lead, when required.

5. There is a body of opinion favouring the adoption of the model of the Daily Herald, London, in which a sympathetic capitalist combine owns a nominal majority of shares but leaves editorial conduct and policy to a progressive party and to professional men of ability and integrity. The establishment of cooperatives and trusts are advocates by many. These with their non-profit ideal have a wide appeal in India.

6. The need is for medium-sized newspapers, rather than big ones. Among several recent suggestions is one for the ownership of plants on a. cooperative basis, if necessary with State aid, but without the shadow of State interference.

This would largely help the weekly newspaper, which cannot afford to have a printing plant of its own.

In fact, several of them, whatever their difference as regards policy, might be printed off the same plant. This form of cooperation exists in England. In India even daily newspapers might profitably adopt this method of production particularly in the less developed areas.

7. The need has been stressed for giving special facilities to women to publish periodicals of their own to press their causes.

8. The Indian newspaper of the future must obviously be produced and sold at a price that is suited to the purchasing power of the ordinary citizen with his low income level.

The general public might welcome tabloids, giving the maximum possible news and the minimum possible advertisement, and relying more on circulation revenue than on advertisement revenue.

9. The Indian language paper, with a wider mass appeal, should be easy to produce with a limited capital, a small plant, teleprinter and radio news services, and trained men to give it a strong local appeal.

10. The suggestion has been made for the setting up of a statutory body to hold a decennial enquiry into the working of all public institutions, professions, and industries including journalism. This would be in harmony with the ideal of the Welfare State.

11. The proposal for the establishment of a Press Council has been discussed. The model is suggested by the British Royal Commission and is worked out in a private Bill now before the British Parliament.

It requires modification to suit Indian conditions. It would meet with ready acceptance if it functions as a central body keeping a watch particularly on professional standards and safeguarding the status.

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