Submitted to the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala

In Fulfillment of the Award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
under the Faculty of Social Sciences

by

Aby P.Joy

Under the Guidance and Supervision of

Dr. A.K.Chirappanath

School of Gandhian Thought and Development Studies,

Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam – 686 560, Kerala, India.

E-mail: [email protected]

August 2010

CONTENTS

CHAPTER – I

             GENERAL INTRODUCTION… 1 – 18…… 1.1

Introduction         1

1.2        Selection of the Topic…  11

1.3        Objectives of the Research Work  …. 12

1.4        Significance of the Study…  13

1.5        Hypothesis…   14

1.6        Methods and Tools for Data Collection….   14

1.7        Area of the Study…   15

1.8        Limitations of the Study…  16

1.9        Scope and Limits of the Study…   17

References……       17

CHAPTER – II

INDIAN JOURNALISM – ORIGIN, DEVELOPMENT & PROBLEMS…  19 – 76

Article 1.  Mass Media in India – Its Role and Development…  21

i.    Role and Objectives of Print Media…    24

ii.   Press Laws and Limitations of the Press…  27

iii.        Technology and Present Working Practices…  31

Article 2.  History of Journalism in Kerala… 32

i.    Swadeshabhimani K. Ramakrishna Pillai…  33

ii.   K.P. Kesava Menon…   34

iii.  Kandathil Varghese Mappillai…  35

iv.   Present Journalistic Arena in Kerala…  36

Article 3.  Present Journalistic Trends…  38

i.    Sensationalism… 38

ii.   Trivialisation of News…   41

iii.  Commercialisation of Newspapers…  44

iv.   Over Importance to Advertisements…  49

Article 4.  Journalistic Ethics Vs Economic Viability… 53

i.    Loss of Credibility…  56

ii.   Views Papers Vs Newspapers…    59

Article 5.  Journalism and Politics…  61

i.    Irresponsible Reporting…  64

ii.   Politically Biased Approach…   68

iii.  Untrue and Anti-Social Elements…  71

References…  74

CHAPTER – III

ABERRATIONS OF CONTEMPORARY JOURNALISM     … 77 – 117

Article 1.  Major Newspapers in Kerala…   79

             Article 2.  Print Media in Kerala with Special
Reference to Newspapers: Case Study….     83

                   i.    Reports and Findings of the Survey….    84

ii.   Data Analysis..    87

iii.  Some Other Notable Information from the Case Study….95

Article 3.  Findings of the Study…. 99

Article 4.  Opinion of Media Experts…  103

Article 5.  Remedial Measures…113

References… 117

CHAPTER – IV

FOUNDATIONS OF GANDHIAN JOURNALISM …   118 – 170

Article 1   Gandhiji’s Uniqueness… 120

Article 2   Basic Principles of Gandhian Philosophy… 124

i.    Truth… 126

ii.   Non-violence….  129

iii.  Satyagraha…  131

iv.   Sarvodaya…   133

Article 3.  Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian Journalism …136

i.    Gandhiji’s Entry to Journalism…  139

ii.   Gandhiji’s Journalistic Approach…   141

Article 4.  Objectives of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Experiments…   144

i.    Service….  145

ii.   Press as a Tool for Sarvodaya (The Welfare of All)…147

iii.  Social Transformation… 148

iv.   Opinion Creation…  149

Article 5.  Satyagraha and Media…151

Article 6.  Value Based Journalism… 153

i.    Editor with a Difference…  154

ii.   Alternative Journalism…     156

Article 7.  What Gandhiji said:..    158

i.    About Poisonous Journalism….159

ii.   Duty of Journalists…. 160

iii.  Purity of Journalism… 161

iv.   Fearless Press…163

v.    Obscene Literature…165

References…    167

CHAPTER – V

GANDHI AS A JOURNALIST …. 171 – 215

Article 1.  Gandhij’s Journals …..     174

i.  Indian Opinion ……   174

(a) Origin and Development of Indian Opinion….177

(b) Purpose of Indian Opinion..  179

ii. Young India…..  182

iii. Navajivan….    186

iv. Harijan….   189

Article 2.  Topics of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Writing….193

i.    Gandhiji’s Unique Style of Writing…. 195

ii.   Gandhiji’s Peculiar Language…  193

Article 3.  Repercussions of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Approach… 199

Article 4.  Gandhian Views on Journalistic Ethics…   202

i.    Journalism and Advertisements…. 206

ii.   Patriotism….     209

iii.  Unbiased and Impartial Approach…   211

References….  213

CHAPTER – VI

GANDHIJI’S PROPHETIC VISION ON JOURNALISM …216 – 264

Article 1.  About Misuse of the Fourth Estate….. 218

i.    Giving False Information….  221

ii.   Butchering Independent Thinking….    224

Article 2.  Freedom of the Press….       227

i.    Media’s Role in a Democratic Country….. 230

ii.   Remedy for Commercialization of Newspapers… 232

iii.  Press Laws and Limitations of the Press…. 234

Article 3.  Media and the Society….  237

i.    Women and Social Injustice…    240

ii.   Upliftment of Harijans and Removal of Untouchability…  243

iii.  Communalism and Media…     246

iv.   Against Yellow Journalism…  247

Article 4.  Gandhian Journalism – A Critique….     250

i.      Assessment of Gandhiji’s Contribution…..   250

ii.     Significance of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Experiments….    253

iii.    Some Journalistic Examples in the Gandhian Path..256

iv.     Professional Journalism and Gandhiji……     259

                         References….  261

CHAPTER – VII

             RELEVANCE OF GANDHIAN APPROACH IN THE
JOURNALISTIC TRENDS ….   265 – 294

             Article 1.  Editorial Trends and Gandhian Views…..     268

i.    Factual Reporting…..     270

ii.   Treat the News as it Deserves….     271

iii.  Journalism with Human Touch….     273

Article 2.  Economic Trends Influencing Journalism and Their  After-effects..    275

i.    Journalism is Not for Sale…….   277

ii.   Ethics First, Everything Else Next..  279

iii.  Avoid Advt-culture…   282

Article 3.  Political and Social Trends of Print Media and Their  Influences …    285

i.    Be Positive Politically and Socially….  287

ii.   Avoid Over Politicisation….290

iii.  Enlighten Politics by the Press… 291

References….    293

CHAPTER VIII

GANDHIJI’S DIRECTIVES ON JOURNALISM & CONCLUSION …. 295 – 317

             Article 1. Contemporary Relevance of Gandhiji…    297

Article 2. Moral Lessons…..299

             Article 3. Suggestions and recommendations….304

Conclusion…..    310

CONTEMPORARY JOURNALISTIC TRENDS – 
A GANDHIAN CRITIQUE

CHAPTER – I

1.1    Introduction

It is a matter of common knowledge that human being is a gregarious animal. Every animal has an inherent urge to communicate. Man is considered as the only animal capable of communicating by means of the language, in the true sense of the word. Information exchange has been going among the homo-sapiens in one form or another, since the very origin of the institution called the society.

In the annals of human progress, communication techniques underwent steady development.  In the early days, this growth was very slow.  With the advancement of science and technology, the pace of growth of communication techniques also increased in reaps and bounds. The last two centuries are considered as an era of communication revolution which embraced a variety of fields, unheard of in the past. Human communication is mainly classified into four major categories: Intrapersonal Communication, Inter-personal Communication, Group Communication and Mass Communication. Television, Radio, Cinema and Newspaper are the most prominent among the important mass media.

Communication through the medium of the paper is an ancient means of dissemination of knowledge.  The invention of the printing machine by John Guttenberg gave a new impetus to the process, accelerating and accentuating. Elegantly printed newspapers took the place of crude manuscripts. People whole-heartedly accepted and adopted the new trend in communication. Anything printable came to be considered as News.  A widely accepted definition of news is: “News is an account of a recent event or opinion which is important or interesting”.[1]   News is in a way current history.  News comprises all current activities of general human interest and the best news is that which interests most readers. Though the concept of news is very old, the word ‘news’ is relatively recent in origin. In English it appeared as ‘newis’ in 1423, ‘newyes’ in 1485 and evolved to ‘newes’ in 1523.  It was only after 1550 that it became ‘news.’[2] The four letters of the word news have been described as representing the four directions – North, East, West and South.

“Journalism is defined as the art and science of using words for the communication of news items.”[3]  At the same time, the field of news business is a field of service and encompasses creative work, search of knowledge with a potential for healthy competition.  Opinion creation and lending new dimensions to knowledge are two of its avowed objectives. Besides it seeks to criticize the wrong doing of those in power, entertain the mass to enlighten the public. Journalism with the free press plays a vital role in shaping the trends and development in contemporary and future societies.  In almost all countries, the Press is considered as one of the main pillars of the government.  It is invested with the prestigious position of the ‘Fourth Estate’.  Judiciary, Legislature and Executive are the other three Estates. Freedom of the Press is an inseparable part of democracy.

The history of journalism in India is closely linked with the colonial rule. It cannot be denied that during the colonial regime that the Press played not a small role in making the common people aware of fundamental human rights which, incidentally led to the structural and cultural change of Indian Society.  In India, the vernacular dailies have also played an important part in Nation-Building. Kerala is the most literate State in India.  This comparatively small southern State has quite a good many newspapers and journals to its credit.  In this study an attempt is made to identify some major but unique trends in the field of journalism in Kerala. Commercialisation of news papers, sensationalising news items, attaching undue importance to advertisements, deviating from the journalistic principles and ethics, undue importance given to party politics, etc., are some of the major, pitfalls in  Kerala’s journalistic field.  These aberrations are sought to be identified by the researcher through case studies conducted both in a village and in an urban areas.

Indian Journalism in the post-Independence, let alone the critical Emergency period, has lost much of its charm.  It is mainly due to the commercialization of news papers.  Running a newspaper involves a huge investment. Most of the newspapers are run or financed by rich capitalists with an avowed profit motive and ulterior objectives. The most powerful side of a newspaper, the editorial review is naturally initiated by prejudices and partisan attitudes.   Globalisation is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.  In this age of globalization and information revolution, it is not easy for newspapers to exist without commercial considerations.  But the danger lies in the thought that the newspaper is only a consumer product.  This attitude emerged in India in the middle of 1980’s.[4] The perverted argument is that the newspaper is no better than toothpaste and that it should be viewed as a commodity like any other.  There is no sanctity about a newspaper, much less about journalism.  There is tough competition in the field and success is judged by the ability to sell the product.  The ultimate result of this approach is that it will adversely affect the freedom of the press, the life blood of democracy.

Sensationalising news items is very common in present day journalism.  Entertaining people by hook or crook to ensure wide circulation is a serious menace. News is invested with the aura of a story. Important items of news often made comical to attract common people.  The basic principle of journalism ‘Facts are sacred, comment is free’ is ignored.  Glorification of social evils and violence is a usual practice.  The language used to present such news items is often vague and ambiguous. Publication of interviews with anti-social elements by the newspapers glorifying terrorists and criminals is quite injurious to  the interests of a healthy society.  Though the Press Council of India gives strict instructions against such practices, they go unheard.  The 21st guide line of the Press Council of India warns the journalists against sensational and provocative writing.[5] Though the guidelines and instructions are clear, the newspapers ignore most of them because of the cross commercialism and cut-throat competition.  They distort the truth and sometimes resort to stark falsehood.

Undue importance being attached to advertisements is another curse in the newspaper field. Advertisements are directly related to money.  So in the present situation advertisements are a necessary evil.  Besides they have an informative value.  But the danger starts where the newspaper management considers advertisements more important than news.  The advertisers influence the editorial content of a journal both directly and indirectly. The newspaper is a social product.  It enjoys the status of the Fourth Estate in a democratic country like ours.  These things are ignored when we give over importance to advertisements. To make matters worse, advertisements of harmful items and dangerous drugs find place in these columns of our newspapers.  Even fraudulent methods are used to promote such products.   The welfare of the society is being totally ignored.

Some newspapers publish advertisements under the guise of news cheating their readers.  Canvassing advertisements is called space marketing. Here also journals indulge in unhealthy competition. To make space marketing easy the news and the advertisement sections work hand-in-hand in an unholy collaboration. This has become a universal phenomenon.  The policy of the media is decided according to the advertisement interest.  The editorial section may object to this practice.  This is called ‘newsroom versus board room’ by media experts.

The fundamental objective of journalism is to serve the people with news, views and information on matters of public interest in a fair, accurate, unbiased, sober and decent manner.  To meet this end, the press is expected to conduct itself in keeping with certain norms of professionalism and ethics.  Almost all these principles are widely recognized and accepted. But unfortunately today we see flagrant violation of newspaper ethics.  This affects the credibility of newspapers as a whole. BBC news editor-in-chief Tony Burman  pointed out, ‘every news organization has only its credibility and reputation to rely on.’ [6]  Some experts say that if they deviate from ethics and principles, journalism will become a dead profession.  Dead in the sense that idealism, which made this profession a noble calling, is no longer there.  The fire that transformed the pen into a mighty weapon in the hands of those in an earlier generation seems to have gone out in this new era governed by the market.  Its cutthroat practices erase even the semblance of a commitment to ideals and principles in the contemporary media world.  It is money that matters in the market economy and media is seen just as one among many industrial concerns available to those looking for first buck.

A major part of the space in newspapers is utilised for politics now-a-days.  Most of these political news are negative news.  Censorious news attract more readers just as negative talk gathers more listeners.  Newspapers have the capability to guide political parties to the right track.  But seldom do they utilise it becomingly.   Politically biased reports and reporters abound in our present journalistic arena. Developmental efforts are often blocked on political considerations. In the Kerala society, Political negativity and violence seem to have gripped the psyche of the people.  Irresponsible  newspapers and political parties are equally responsible for creating this situation.  Here we need a new enlightened approach to resist the harmful politicisation of our newspapers.

What are the remedies for these journalistic aberrations?  The search for an answer to this question will lead us a great person who lived in this country a century ago. That man was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), the Father of Our Nation.  Though he was not a professional journalist, he wrote quite a lot on every subject in the universe. Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest visionaries whom Mother India has ever produced.  Gandhiji was a versatile genius – a political leader, economist, philosopher, religious reformer and educationist and above all, a sage of mystic wisdom who conducted many experiments in the field of journalism also.  All his experiments were tests on Truth.  He believed that journalism should be founded on truth and non-violence and should be used as a weapon for social transformation.  Gandhiji’s journals ‘Indian Opinion’, ‘Harijan’, ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Young India’ carry great and valuable messages to  publications, journals and journalists.  He practised everything that he preached so much so that ‘his life itself was his message.’

Gandhiji could give full justice to all the main objectives of the media, i.e., to inform, to interpret, to evaluate, to educate, to conscientise,  to inspire, to create opinion, to lead, to create desirable attitudes, to criticise and to give great values to contemporary society and finally to the human race.  Here we can see that the media helped to generate a feeling of nationality and a sense of purpose.

In fact, Gandhiji had brought in many new elements which resuscitated the field of journalism.  It was his human approach which gave his writings a unique character.  His voice was the echo of the conscience of humanity – not just the voice of a pamphleteer.  He wanted to bring about a real change in the country and the world.

Gandhiji believed, “The sole aim of journalism should be service.  The true function of journalism is to educate the public mind and read the mind of the country and to give definite and fearless expression to that mind.”[7]

According to Gandhiji, a journalist must be a nationalist, a party loyalist, or a faithful adherent of his class interest, but his loyalty should primarily be to his readers.  The public has the right to know the truth.  It must be informed objectively of what actually is happening.  If the paper loses the confidence of its readers, it has lost all that is worth in journalism.  The subject matter Gandhiji chose was down to the ground.  He was able to put the villages of India on the wider canvas of Indian writing.  Unfortunately, Gandhiji’s contribution to journalism has not received the due recognition it deserved.  Almost all of his ideals remain a distant dream.

The journal ‘Indian Opinion’ was launched in 1904 while Gandhiji was in South Africa. Sjt. Mansukhlal Naazar was the first editor.  In the beginning it used to be issued in Gurjarati, Hindi, Tamil and English. ‘Indian Opinion’ was a mirror my life,” Gandhiji wrote in his autobiography.[8]  Gandhiji gave the lessons of Satyagraha through the journal.  There was hardly an issue of Indian opinion for 10 years without an article of Gandhiji in it.  Gandhiji wrote: “It made me thoroughly understand the responsibility of a journalist and the hold I secured in this way over the community made the future campaign workable, dignified and irresistible.  In the very first month of ‘Indian Opinion’, I realized that the sole aim of journalism should be service.” [9]

In the beginning ‘Navajivan Anasatya’ was a magazine published from Mumbai .  Later the name of the magazine was changed as ‘Navajivan’.  It became a weekly from 1919.  The place of publication was shifted to Ahmmedabad.  By the name Navajivan, Gandhi intended the renewal of the Gujarati language, literature, people’s life and those of the nation.[10]  The magazine gave due importance to political affairs.  Many translated articles were also published in Navajivan, mainly from Bengali.  Gandhiji did not believe in writing books to express his views.  He wrote about it in his journal.  Many great persons wrote their articles in Navajivan.  Many social issues were discussed in the magazine.[11]   Navajivan was published with a ‘no profit, no loss approach’ by Gandhiji.

Gandhiji took over ‘Young India’ from Jamandas Dwarakadas in 1919.  His aim was to fight against colonial rule and empower people’s struggle using the journal.  The circulation of the journal increased to forty thousand. From the very start, Gandhiji set its face against taking advertisements in the journal. “I do not think that they have lost anything thereby.  On the contrary, it is my belief that it has in no small measure helped them to maintain their independence,’ Gandhiji wrote about his decision in his autobiography.[12]  Through these journals, Gandhiji educated the people about satyagraha. In 1922 Gandhiji was jailed because of writing against the Government.  Both ‘Young India’ and ‘Navajivan’ were banned.  In 1931 this publication was revived.  It continued till January 1933.

Gandhiji realized the necessity of starting an English weekly which has a circulation all over India. G.D. Birla was ready to sponsor such a journal.  Thus on 11th February, 1933 Gandhiji started the Harijan.[13] The circulation of the weekly increased soon and it became self sufficient economically. Harijan was also published in other languages.  The Hindi edition was Harijan Bandhu.  This was the most popular among the Harijan publications. Eradication of  untoucha-bility and inequality from the society was the main motive of the Harijan.  Illustrious persons like Mahadev Desai, K.G. Mashruwala, Jawaharlal Nehru, R.R. Diwakar, C. Rajagopal Achari, Kaka Kalekar, etel, wrote with Gandhi in the Harijan.  The weekly was a source of inspiration to other publications and newspapers of that time.  Every week Gandhi gave an important message through the Harijan.  Almost all other papers republished it. In 1940 Gandhiji stopped the publication of the Harijan to protest against the Communal Award.  In 1946 it was restarted and its publication continued till 1949.[14]

One can look at Mahatma Gandhi’s journalistic forays in either of two ways; as a moralist who took to journalism or as a journalist who undertook a moral crusade.  He never commercialised his journals.  There never was an editor like him before and there never will be another like him in the future.  The aberrations of contemporary journalism can be remedied taking lessons from Gandhiji’s journalistic experiments.  To him journalism was not a profit making commercial venture but a good means of public service.  He wrote: “Journalism should never be prostituted for selfish ends or for the sake of merely earning livelihood or worse still for amassing money.”[15]

Gandhiji was against sensationalising news and occurrences.  He wrote the truth without exaggeration or distortion. He strongly condemned the unethical practices of his fellow journalists. On one occasion he remarked: “The newspaperman has become a walking plague.  He spreads the contagion of lies and calumnies.”[16]

Gandhi’s attitude towards advertisements was that of a crusader; one cannot even imagine such a resistance in this era of consumeristic culture.  Advertisements adversely affect the consumer.  They cause a rise in the prices of goods and services.  There is hidden portion behind every advertisement.  Today the advertisement interests control the media.  Here one cannot hesitate to admire the foresight of Gandhiji.  Advertisements are now becoming a threat even to the freedom of the press.  As an ardent fighter of the freedom of the press, he took a firm stand against everything which went against the freedom of the press.

Gandhiji insisted that the press must follow certain ‘dharmic’  (moral and ethical) principles.  He wrote, “The press was called the Fourth Estate.  It was definitely a power but to misuse that power was criminal.”[17] In this age of media supremacy, the need for adopting a fair code of conduct is more imperative than ever before.

Politicisation of news items is another curse of our times.  Though Gandhiji was also a great politician he never tarnished his journals with politically biased opinions.  Here also our present media need a correction.  Today, there is a tendency to spread false news due to politically biased approaches of reporters and media owners.  Remember that Gandhiji appreciated the good qualities of English men even when he was fighting against them.

In short, we can say that Mahatma Gandhi’s journalistic experiments have greater relevance today than ever before. Day by day we are realising that.  The main duty of the media is to lead the society to a better tomorrow.  Here Gandhian principles and his experiments are worthy models for all of us to emulate and practise.

1.2    Selection of the Topic

There is a saying that media makes the man.  The famous American writer William Fore opined that ‘media is the myth maker’.  Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest exponents of democracy remarked, ‘Nothing can succeed without public opinion’. The role played by the mass media in the contemporary society is very significant.  In this study I propose to deal mainly with the print media.  The press, a powerful weapon and corrective force of the society has stood by certain norms and standards from its very beginning.  In course of time, many factors made it deviate from the original stand. The response of the media to issues has changed considerably.  An unholy haste to the detriment of truth is destroying the credibility of the press bulletins. In the urge to provide entertainment more important issues get slighted or ignored.  To earn money by hook or crook is tarnishing the very image of the press. Dissemination of news is considered as a purely commercial undertaking and the reader is reduced to the level of the consumer. The great power inherent in the press media is often misused to promote selfish interests.

Any one who seeks to find a way out of this precarious predicament may well turn to Gandhji’s pioneer work in the field of journalism and draw inspiration from it. He could succeed in using the media very effectively in his time.  Gandhiji’s journals illustrated the stupendous power of the media.  He once remarked: “Journalists must be prepared for any sacrifice while serving public cause”.[18]

This study seeks to place greater emphasis on the press in Kerala, the most literate State in the country which has the highest rate of readership, about four times more than that of Hindi speaking area.  Here, now-a-days not a major newspaper has stopped functioning owing to financial crisis.  Fabulous schemes to attract and lure readers are being implemented by almost all the major newspapers, resulting in an unhealthy competition among them. But the pity is that most of these gigantic enterprises do not seem to ignore the welfare of the common people.  Major issues like environmental problems, social evils and the spread of the consumer culture in this small State do not receive adequate attention of the press. At the same time they are competing with one another in producing more sensational news items.  In this study, the researcher proposes to probe into these journalistic trends and tries to find out Gandhian solutions to the aberrations spotted.

1.3    Objectives of the Research Work

The objectives of the research work are:

1.       To study the contemporary journalistic aberrations in general and those in Kerala in particular

2.       To study relevant thoughts of Gandhiji on Journalism and make a thorough investigation into his journals – ‘Indian Opinion’, ‘Navajivan’, Young India’ and ‘Harijan’

3.       To find out the relevance of Gandhiji’s journalistic concepts in our present condition

4.       To understand how Gandhiji could manage to conduct  his journals in a ‘no profit, no loss’ scale even when he kept away advertisements from his newspapers

5.       And finally to evaluate how Gandhiji used his journals for social changes and assess the extent of commitment expressed by him to realise his professed ideals such as truth, non-violence, satyagraha and sarvodaya through journalistic experiments.

1.4     Significance of the Study

News is accurate and timely intelligence of happenings, discoveries, opinions and matters of any sort that affect or interest the readers.  But today the common people do not have any control over the mass media.  Media houses are very large business institutions.[19]  The main objectives of media are to inform, to educate, to transform, to entertain and to restructure the society.  But the contemporary situation is that twisting these objectives.  An impartial view from the balanced mind is not common today. News and views which are inaccurate and far-fetched are published without the least prick of conscience.  Journalists and media owners are responsible for such a state of affairs. We have to help the media to get out of this crisis and reinstate the earlier atmosphere of sanity and responsibility. The need of the hour is to envisage an approach which enables the media to have an easy access to the material and use of its responsibility ensures that the media does not manipulate it to mislead the people to serve selfish interests.  At present the electronic media has not grown enough to reach out the common people.  Even now the print media is still the main source of knowledge dissemination.  Hence the need to make sure that journals of all kind, especially news papers keep a sense of honesty, decency, fairness and responsibility in the larger interests of the nation.

The present study is aimed at detecting and analysing the problems of the print media and to find out Gandhian solutions to them.  Like any other approach to Gandhian values, the journalistic approach to Gandhism must be wholistic, for Gandhiji, himself was one who loved to view the world as one organic unit and all aspects of life are interrelated. This study further seeks to probe into the peculiarities of Gandhiji’s journalistic approach and experiments and how far they can be made use of to emancipate the press from the clutches of the manifold problems arising out of the rapid and drastic changes occurred in recent times world wide.

1.5    Hypothesis

In this age of competition, the print media shows some undesirable trends and unhealthy tendencies.  These adversely affect the society.  These journalistic aberrations must be remedied.  Contemporary journalistic field has many things to learn from Mahatma Gandhi.  He was a man of ethical journalism.  His journalistic experiments have greater significance now than ever before. ‘Indian Opinion’, ‘Young India’, ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Harijan’ were the journals edited by Gandhiji.  They are living examples of Mahatma Gandhi’s journalistic genius.  His language, approach and value-based prophetic voice have no parallel in history.  The ideals put forward by Gandhiji such as Truth, Nonviolence, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha are ever relevant.  These values reflect in his journalistic contributions too. An exposition of the relevance of Gandhian approach particularly in the field of journalism, is very much useful, nay, necessary in our contemporary realities.

1.6    Methods and Tools of Data Collection

In this study, both primary and secondary data are collected.  An analytic study of the literature related to journalism, interviews, questionnaire, observation, discussions, etc.,  are used for data collection.

Primary sources 

The primary data were collected through interview and observation.  Information was gathered through interviews with quite a number of regular newspaper readers.  For this an interview schedule was prepared.  An interview guide was prepared for the media persons.  It included their expectations, experiences and the problems they were really facing in their field.

Though the area of study is the whole of Kerala, the interview with common readers has been mainly done in Ramamangalam village and in Kochi city. Before starting the interview, the purpose of the interview was explained and it was assured that the information given will be used for study purpose only.  The schedule was pre-tested in the research area and necessary changes were made before using it for the final study.

Secondary Sources

The secondary data were collected from various media institutions.  A large number of newspapers, journals, publications text books, periodicals, etc., were used for the study.  Information received from the internet has also been used in this study.  Kerala Press Academy provided some valuable information about newspapers.

Sample Design

Out of more than fifty newspapers in the State, prominent ten were selected for the field study. Forty journalists were interviewed using the interview schedule.  The researcher interviewed one hundred newspaper readers in the village and another hundred readers in the urban area. The opinions of some eminent media persons and scholars were collected through email and from internet.

1.7    Area of the Study

The geographical area of the study is the State of Kerala.  The study is focused on the major newspapers of Kerala which are published in Malayalam.

8.      Limitations of the Study

Research studies on the media in the State are limited.  So very little literature is available.  In-depth studies are almost nil.  There is a saying that no two journalists have the same view about anything.  So almost all opinions are relative.  Some of the media persons and organizations hesitate to reveal the actual problems.  Some are not prepared to give the figures, particularly about the circulation.

Many of the readers are ignorant about the aberrations of the newspapers they rely on. Hence a broad generalisation and the collection of data from all categories of people are virtually impossible.  It is very difficult to find out reliable studies and authoritative research works in this area to serve as a model.

The study is limited only to newspapers.  People get information from Television, Radio, Weeklies, Magazines, Internet and even from their mobile phone.  So the study based only on newspapers is not complete in any sense. The information channels are so broad in our contemporary world. Yet, print media has a great role in society.

Most of the materials were collected in the vernacular, namely, Malayalam and sometimes I was forced to give a freelance translation to establish the ideas presented.  This indeed is a limitation since exact translations were not available.

1.9    Scope and Limits of the Study

The strength of democracy lies in the effectiveness of the freedom of expression.  As Thomas Jefferson remarked, ‘where the press is free and every man is able to read, all is safe’.  In a democratic country like India, the press is one of the major corrective forces.  Unfortunately, today this corrective force has become a corruptive force to a large extent.  Here we can see the relevance of Gandhiji’s voice. The Mahatma upheld many values in his four journals.  Gandhi succeeded in using the media very effectively. He had a great vision of the future of the press.

In this changing media environment, journalism has become more complicated, technology based and specialised.  Any media activity is a high speed process today.  Here money, technological advancement, human intelligence and creativity meet together.  Newspapers are large scale commercial ventures. So we cannot expect to meet an editor like Gandhiji at the helm of an ordinary paper.  Another thing is that, Gandhiji’s papers were part of a great movement. But today’s newspapers are not the part of any social movement.  Needless to say that, the modus operandi will differ considerably.

As stated earlier, this study is based on a sample survey.  Like any other sociological survey, it has several limitations.  Any study in the media field faces an ideological struggle between the various aspects and concepts of the problems also.  Yet, an earnest attempt has been made to reveal the contemporary journalistic problems and to find out Gandhian solutions to them.

References

[1]        K.M. Shrivastava, News Reporting and Editing, Sterling Publishers Private Ltd, New Delhi, 1991, p.3

[2]        ibid,  p.2

[3]        Robert Schmuh, The Responsibilities of Journalism,  Affiliated East West Press Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1989 p. 93

[4]        Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr., Media Focus Jan-Apr. 1999 p. 15

[5]        N.P. Rajendran, Press Ethics and Law, View point Publishers Trivandrum 2007, p. 215

[6]        Journalism Ethics – A Reference Handbook (Contemporary Ethical Issues) edited by Elliot D Cohen and Deni Elliot, abc-clio, 1998. p.7

[7]        Sunil Sharma, Journalist Gandhi – Selected Writings of Gandhi, Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal, Gandhi Book Centre, Bombay, 1994 p.3.

[8]        M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahmedabad, 1927, p. 330.

[9]        ibid, p. 331

[10]       Saroj Malik, Mahatma Gandhi and His Gujarati Writings, p. 52

[11]       Navajivan, 7-3-1920

[12]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemedabad, 1927. p. 55

[13]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhiji, Vol. 73. p. 304.

[14]       R.K. Chatterjee, Mass Communication, p. 122.

[15]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 46, p.23, Publications  Division, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad.

[16]       D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol. 2, Publications Division, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1960 p. 23

[17]       D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, vol.7, Publications Division, Navajivan Publishing House Ahmedabad, 1960, p. 375.

[18]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.10, p. 226-7

[19]       The Complete Reporter, Chapter – 3

 

 

 

CHAPTER – II

INDIAN JOURNALISM – ORIGIN, DEVELOPMENT
AND PROBLEMS

          Indian journalism has only 230 years old.  The history of modern Indian journalism is much older than a century. Two things helped the growth of journalism in India indirectly- missionary work and the freedom struggle.

The first newspaper called the ‘Calcutta General Advertiser’ or Hickey’s Gazette started publication from Calcutta on January 29, 1780.  It was a one-man-show.  It’s founder, editor, printer and promoter was an Englishman called James Augustus Hicky.  That was why it was known as Hicky’s Gazette.  It was a two page (12 x 18 inches) single sheet newspaper. It was published as a weekly. The main purpose was to criticise the officers of the East-India Company.  The British officials tried to stop this because it became a headache to them.  Hicky was arrested. Rs.80,000 was imported for bail.  He was  imprisoned for four months.  In March 1872 this paper was banned.  Hicky was subjected to all sorts of persecutions thereafter.

During the Mugal period written newspapers called ‘Athbar’ are known to have been in circulation.[19]  Peter Reed and B Mascik started
a weekly Indian Gazette in November 1780 in Calcutta.

The first Indian, attributed to have played a role in journalism was Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who started a Bengali weekly titled ‘Samvad Kaumudi’.  It’s objective was a crusade against the ‘Sati’ system, then widely practised by the caste Hindus in particular.

The first daily newspaper was started in 1854, from Calcutta, named ‘Samachar Sudha Varshan’.  It was edited by Shyam Sunder Sen under the ownership of Mahendra Nath.  It was a bilingual newspaper (Bengali and Hindi).  It was closed down in 1873.[19]

From Lucknow, an English daily Pioneer (1865) was initiated.  In 1868 Amrit Bazar Patrika was launched from Calcutta.  It was an English newspaper.  Anand Bazar Patrika a Bengali newspaper, was also published during that period.  The British wished to restrain the national movement using the Vernacular Press Act.  Amrit Bazar Patrika changed to English over night to bypass the Vernacular Press Act.  It was an important event in the history of Indian journalism.  Other contemporary newspapers included ‘The States man (1875) from Calcutta, The Hindu (1878) from Madras and a Marathi daily Kesari (1881) along with Marathi (1881) Maharashtra also played a significant role in bringing about a social change.  In northern India, an English daily – ‘The Tribune’ – was also started in 1882.

We can easily find that the nineteenth century was a century which marked a remarkable growth of newspapers in India.  It was a time of struggle against the colonial rule.  It was also a time of technological advancement and scientific inventions.  New economic and political theories were evolved.  It was reflected in the social, political, literary, economic and media fields in India.

Gandhiji launched ‘Indian Opinion’ in four languages on June 4, 1903.  It was published from Durban. Its editors were Mansukhlal Najar and Madanjeet.  They were later replaced by Herbert Kitchel, Hentry S.L. Polak, Joseph Dock, etc.  A single page bulletin named ‘Satyagraha’ was started from Bombay in 1971 in Hindi and English by Gandhiji.

Navajivan was launched by Gandhi in 1919.  Gandhiji was arrested in 1919 and released in 1924.  He re-started the publication of paper in 1924.  In the Harijan, started by Gandhiji, he was assisted by Mahadev Bhai, Pyararelalji Viyogi Hari and Kaka Kalelkar.  We shall discuss Gandhiji’s role in Indian journalism in detail in the fourth chapter.

Article 1.    Mass Media in India – Its Role and Development

Ours is an age of information.  Mass based knowledge is called information.  Information is becoming all powerful in modern society.  The modern man got habituated, rather addicted to this constant continuous dissemination of information.  Using Malinowski’s Crypetic expression, one can safely say that if there is anything functionally indispensable in the modern world, then it is the information and the system that process and propagates it.[19]

With the growing power and influence of the mass media in modern society it becomes almost imperative for every transitional society undergoing modernisation like India to give special emphasis on the mass media.  Certain cogent expressions that are being  are being used extensively today, shows the importance of information – information is power; modern age is the age of information, information technology, information revolution, etc.

The simple definition of communication is the transmission of knowledge or idea from one person to another.  It is a continuous process. The communication process is an inevitable part of human life today.  When the information technology boosted up the methods of communication, the media achieved tremendous growth.  Any effective communication has four ingredients – source, receiver, message and feed back.  The media comes between the source and the receiver.  The role of the media is to contain the message and then successfully transform it to the receiver.  Any message given by a reliable and trustable source must be used as the stimulus to work towards change in a better direction.  This is the role of a good media.

Any media have its own characteristics.  On the basis of these characteristics the media are classified into two groups: the hot media and the cold media.  In the hot media, the receiver could get the message without his participation.  But in the cold media the effective participation of the receiver is essential.  Film and radio are examples of hot media and newspapers and television are cold media.

We can only get messages (news) from a newspaper only when we read it.  Then our participation is there.  We must try to know the news. Also while watching television there is our effort to see it.  This type of media is called cold media because there is the active participation of the reader  (Receiver)  to receive the message.  So this kind of media is cold media.

But if we are hearing the radio news there is no function to our effort.  We are just hearing it.  We can hear it even when doing any other job.  This type of media is called hot media.  Both the kinds of media are have their importance in social change and in national development.  Either of them can be replaced by the other media.

“India is not Calcutta and Bombay.  India lives in her seven hundred thousand villages.” – Mahatma Gandhi said.[19]  Even today it is a fact. 79.6 % of Indian people are living not in the urban centres but in the rural huts.  These villages are still most undeveloped and underdeveloped areas. This pathetic situation must be changed.  The economic dissimilarities, false beliefs, bad customs, malnutrition, unemployment, under employment, ill-health and, above all, poverty are the burning problems of these villages. This is the problem of Mother India and so each and every citizen of India should be committed to work for bettering the condition of the village folk.

As a developing country, we cannot afford to ignore the capacity of communication facilities to work out social change and development.  Any developmental programme should reach the people at best means of carrying these ideas to the common people is the mass media.

Among mass media, the importance of radio is crucial in the context of the Indian realities.  Television programmes and newspapers are only available to a small section of the people.  Both these media concentrate on towns and cities.  But there is not a single village in India which has no access to the AIR transmission.  Only the educated minority can use the newspapers fruitfully.  But the poor farmer of Rajastan and the fisherman of Goa can easily use his transistor radio for information and entertainment.

The development of the Press today helps the people to participate in Nation building process.  “The development of the community press even in remote areas in every Asian country to enable every segment of the population to participate in what we hoped would be a two-way communication between the administration and the general public, between the urban centres and countryside.”[19] Suppose a man depends on newspapers to get news and views about his surroundings.  He has certain advantages.  These advantages are the characteristics of that media.  We can use the newspaper whenever we like.  We can use it at night after completing all our work or use it early morning.  The news will wait for us.  We get different views and  aspects of news about any particular thing or incident.

T.V. Programmes are prepared and selected for the mass.  We can not select from them according to our personal interest unlike those in newspapers.  Our personal interest is ignored.  Here there is no possibility to know more about any particular news or incident.  What we get is limited information about many things.  Then we are forced to hear and watch whatever we get in our television set.

In the history of communication we can see that man did not avoid any step of communication while taking further steps.  Each and every means of communication is allowed to exist even when new methods of communication step in.  For example, even now we use gestures or sounds for communication.  These are primitive methods of communication.  But we use it in this age which is an advanced age of satellite communication.  In every man there is a craving for communication.  This urge for communication helps him to develop new technologies, devices and media which enrich in the field of communication by making it more effective and enduring.

(i)      Role and Objectives of Print Media

Print media give the reader not only news but also ‘news behind news’.  So every day people eagerly wait for the newspaper.  T.V. is only an appetiser in the case of news.  In print media, we have the right to choose the news or feature or article which we want to read.  In other media we have no choice to make. Moreover, we get a clearer picture and account of the incident from the newspaper.  We can know news in detail.  At the same time print media is one of the cheapest methods of communication.  If we have to see a particular programme or news bulletin in television, we must get in front of the T.V. set at that particular time.  Print media doesn’t have this restraint.

All the same newspapers too have certain limitations.  We cannot see the incident as in the television.  So there is a chance to be misled.  Besides, we get only the reporter’s or the newspaper management’s angle about the incident.  The whole picture was not
in front of us.  Further more, the newspaper can only give the report after the incident occurs.  Live transmission as in T.V. is impossible.  This delay in time is important.  Because late news is not news; it is only history.

After receiving the message from the media, the receiver produces his feed back.  In any mass media, there is a feed back from the receiver to the source or the mediator.  The development of communication changed the world into a global village.  But even at this stage, we do not give enough importance to the feedback.  Feedback is a major ingredient of communication and so it has its own importance and influence both in the mediator and in the receiver.  Letters to the editor in the newspapers are the feedback.  But in many newspapers enough space is not set apart for this.

In short, the media field is growing day by day.  We can not live without the help of communicators in the present world.  Communication devices are advancing very fast technologically and psychologically now.  If we can put this development to best use  we can achieve several national goals.  At the same time it will be  beneficial to the entire society.

Reinforcing one’s values and opinion is another role of print media. Thus the media have a changing role in the society.  According to Wilber Sehramme the media could help in national development mainly in agricultural and industrial development.  But we cannot say that our print media is fulfilling this role successfully.  “Indian newspapers to a great extent have a tendency to neglect developmental reporting which is the crying need in a developing country.  If sometimes, some space is given to development report then the attention is more on that aspect which highlights the development issues and less on that aspect which leads to development.” [19]

In a democratic country like India, while framing policies, the needs of the last and least privileged man should also be taken into consideration. Explaining to the people why a decision was taken is equally important as taking a decision.  If we use the print media successfully and effectively we can attain this two-way communication.  Government and many other organizations become irrelevant and authoritarian because the main agency that should create and establish the two  way communication possible – The Media – has not lived up to the goals.  There are occasions where they have acted according to the demand of the times even at the cost of their own interests.  But instances are many that tell tales of utter irresponsibility on the part of this media.

The main objectives of the media are to inform, to interpret, to evaluate, to educate, to conscientise, to entertain, to inspire, to create opinions, to create desirable attitudes, to lead, to help in planning, to give balanced and effective criticism/feedback and to give various other value – added services.

Media plays a vital role in public relations, advertisement and campaign among people.  Carrying the information back to the policy makers is another objective of the media especially print media. Psychological studies have proved that media could attain desirable behavioral changes in the society.  Any behavioral change is based on habits, beliefs and attitudes.  The mental ingredients of behavioral change are: Perception, Attitudes, Opinions, Beliefs, Interest, Learning, Motivation, Attention and Memory. Development is the net result of social and behavioral change.  It is not only the increase of per capita income.  E.M. Rogers defines  as follows: ‘Development is a type of social change in which new ideas are introduced into a social system in order to produce higher percapita income and levels of living through more modern production methods and improved social organization. The behavioral change of people is also important.’ [19]

The media in India have lived up to the expectations during certain periods. The role of Media in the freedom struggle is an example.  Media have helped in creating a feeling of nationality and a sense of purpose.  In course of time, media chose to promote certain objectives discarding some others so much so the objectives of media and the interests of the society differed on many issues. The present trend seems that the function is limited to be imparting information and providing entertainment discarding many other traditional objectives.

Sad to say, the print media seems to have failed to perform its avowed duties and to achieve its objectives fully.  The media has neither conducted a deep opinion-research, nor has it taken all the needs of the society into consideration.  Further, it has not bothered to take public opinion into account nor has it aired public opinion in full.  Objectives, very often are not set by people, but by media owners themselves.  This trend does not appear to be helpful for a healthy society and democracy.

The growth of communication is going along and side by side with growth of the society.  “In the process of development the mass media are both cause and effect.” [19]  “Economic development and communication development are closely inter related and mutually reinforce each other – Dr. Kuppuswamy rightly observed.[19]

(ii)     Press Laws and Limitations of the Press

Generally speaking, in India the newspapers and journalists have the right environment to work with freedom and responsibility.  Newspapers don’t have unlimited freedom but they enough of it to express their views fearlessly.  There is no special law in India for press freedom as in England.  The journalists have the freedom of speech and expression as all other Indian citizens have.  Article 19(1) of the Indian constitution ensures the freedom of speech and expression.   19(1) A gives the freedom to publish news and views without prior permission.  But the matter publishing with this right, must not be defaming any person or institution.  Journalists have the duty to fulfill the right to know of the society.

Any newspaper should get it registered before the Registrar of Newspapers, Government of India, before starting publication.  Every year they should publish a declaration about its ownership.  The name of editor, printer and publisher should be given in each printed copy of the newspaper.  If any news is defaming a person, the publisher will be prosecuted.  There is a provision to take legal action against the publisher on both civil and criminal grounds.

The newspapers have no right to criticise court verdicts.  The
in camera proceedings of the court must not be published.  The matters which lead to contempt of court must not be published.  The press has no right to violate the official secrets act.  Anti national approach must be strictly punished.  The media must not encourage religious disharmony or communalism.  Such irresponsible journalism from the part of the fourth estate will be considered serious.

The Press Council of India extends moral support to the newspapers.  It is the statutory body which considers the petitions of the journalists and those against the journals and journalists.  There are 28 members in the Indian press council.  This body gives the guidelines to the journalists and media institutions.  Though in our country there is no pre-censorship of news papers, the guidelines of the press council help the journalistic field positively.  It does not restrict the freedom of the Press.  Though newspaper is a means of expression, a journalist has no right to violate the basic rules of privacy, morality and law of the land.

In 1977 the Janata Government repealed many laws which curtailed the press freedom in India.  This government gave more freedom to the press.  It is not easy to bring in hard and fast rules in the field of journalism.  Changing time, social situations and taste of the people will influence the duties of the press.  This will change the values of the media. Technological advancement is another thing to be considered.[19]

Basically, journalism is considered as a double-edged sword.  It is a weapon which fight against evils and atrocities.  It can lead us to the creation of a healthy society.  It can expose corruption and anti-social activities wherever they are found. If then the government or the judiciary decide to punish the newspapers, it will have a reverse effect. Then the notion of a free press will become a myth.  Here is the importance of some self-imposed ethical codes.  Each and every profession has its code of conduct.  But in the field of journalism we cannot insist on an ethical code, which is suitable for all situations.  It is because the journalists face different circumstances each day.  But there must be some moral principles and practices which are acceptable to all.  Ethical journalism will surely increase the integrity of the journalist and the newspaper.

‘The collection of news and reporting must be truthful.  The reporter must write only what is true to his knowledge and belief.  If he finds any news item incorrect, he should correct it in the next issue of the paper. Baseless criticism must be avoided.  We should obey the basic rules of copy right.  ‘Obey the rules of the country and consider the welfare of the society’ – These are the main directions, given to journalists by the International Federation of Journalists (I.F.J) [19]

Journalists must give voice to the voiceless.  The media have a leader-like role in the society.  Realising this and ardently stand by this is the main task of today’s media men.  They must exercise diligence and care in collecting information and interpreting them.  Ours is an age of globalisation.  The values of the society and tendencies in the media field are changing at a tremendous pace..  Everything is decided according to the need of (or the greed of ) the market.  The Press also is changing with the speed of the society.  Even then some laws and restrictions must be unavoidable.

As a media, the press has certain limitations.  Generally the language of newspapers is rather cold and rigid in nature.  There is no time or occasion for clearance of doubts.  Clarification of any point is not possible at the time of communication.  The effectiveness of written matter depends largely on whether it can attract the attention of the people.  While preparing news items, it is possible to forget or ignore the real needs of the reader.  Feedback of communication in print takes time. There are certain corrective measures to make the print media dependable.  Clarity of thought and accuracy in writing is essential.  Generalisations and assumptions must be given wherever necessary.  Writing with command of knowledge, confidence and with full information is inevitable.  If the writer has the right kind of attitudes and feelings towards one’s self, his subject and receiver, communication becomes easy.  He has to project himself to the receiver’s position.  Proof reading and pre-testing of the message will ensure correctness and completeness.

 

 

(iii)    Technology and Present Working Practices

As Dr. McFarland says communication is a process of meaningful interaction among human beings.  It is a process which use different technologies by which meanings are perceived and understanding are reached among human beings.  This is an age of advanced technologies like DTP (Desk Top Publishing) and PTP (Paper to Plate Printing method) which changed the news room beyond imagination.  In this computer age, a reporter could write and send his stories from his house or far away from his office Gradually printing papers are giving road to web-portals and internet editions.  Many important papers have on line editions along with print editions.

According to the changing situations of the news room, the working practices of journalists are also changing.  Thirty or forty years ago we could not dream of working place or practice like this.  Today, almost all major dailies consider their journalists as trained professionals.  Today’s  journalists are better educated and better paid than ever before.  But at the same time the credibility of the news papers has not increased.  Rone F. Smith explains this phenomenon thus:  ‘today’s media persons are more popular than the past; but the media is away from the mass’.

This is an age of news manufacturing.  Different media plant news items and artificially make value-added news items due to the competition in the field.[19]  News concepts are changing partly because people’s habits are changing.  So we cannot fully say that this kind of news making is absolutely false.  Today more and more people are using news websites in the internet.  So news papers must have to modify their conventional approaches.

Technology is changing and so are the working practices.  Now pictures are moving from video tape to computers.  In an advanced news room, journalists write and edit pictures simultaneously.  This is an example of technological advancement.

‘Too much news’ is another problem which a newspaper editor faces today.  The danger is that a massive increase in news means that there is a gilt of the stuff.  Consumer demand is only one of the reasons why companies produce news.  News is changed as one of many items which can be produced in a factory. Editionising news, mainly local news is another tendency of our time.  This is increasing the circulation of the news papers.

Article 2.    History of Journalism in Kerala

Malayalam journalism is only 163 years old.  ‘Rajya samacharam’ started in June 1847 was the first published journal from Kerala.  This was a publication of the Christian missionaries.  In 1864 ‘Paschima Tharaka’ (Western star) started from Kochi.  In the last decades of 19th century so many Malayalam dailies were started – Keralan (1866), Sandishtavadi (1867), Travancore Herald (1867), Keralopakari (1874), Sathyanada Kahalam (1876) Malayala Mithram (1878), Travancore Abhimani (1878), Kerala Deepakam (1878), Kerala Chandrika (1879), Kerala Mithram (1881), Kerala Pathrika (1884), Nazarani  Deepika (1887), Malayala Manorama (1890) etc. [19]  In our early dailies, literary items are included with importance.

In 1865 Devji Bhimiji started ‘Kerala Mithram Press’ at Kochi..  On January 1, 1881 a newspaper called ‘Kerala Mithram’ was started..   The first editor of the paper was Kandathil Varghese Mappillai.  In 1884, Chengulath Kunjirama Menon Started ‘Kerala Pathrika from Malabar. He gave great importance to ‘Hard news’ in his paper, mainly those related to international events, politics and national developments.  Another important journal of that time was ‘Kerala Sanchari’ which went into circulation  on 3rd October, 1888.  The Editor of this weekly was Vengayil Kunjiraman Nayanar.  An organization called Malayalee Social Reform was started at Thiruvananthapuram. It’s organ ‘Malayalee was started in 1886.  Pettayil Raman Pillai Ashan was its first editor.

On 15th April, 1887 ‘Nazarani Deepika’ came out from Mannam St. Joseph’s Press.  In 1938 it become a daily.  Kandathil Varghese Mappillai started Malayala Manorama in 1888.

(i)      Swadeshabhimani K. Ramakrishna Pillai (1878 – 1916)

Born in 1878 in Neyyattinkara near Trivandrum, he started his journalistic career during his college days.  In 1900, he became the editor of ‘Kerala Darpanam’. He was propagating the idea that people’s representatives also should be given a voice in the affairs of the government.  Vakkom Maulavi was publishing a newspaper ‘Swadeshabhimani’ from Vakkom in Chirayinkil Taluk near Trivandrum. RamaKrishna Pillai became its editor in 1906.

His writings, particularly his editorials were not liked by the Travancore government.  His criticism of the deeds of Diwan P. Rajagopalachari infuriated the government so much so that the Maharajah ordered his banishment from the state.  This happened on 26th September, 1910.  The press was confiscated.  Pillai was arrested and deported to Nagercoil, a bordering area of  the Travancore–Madras presidency.  From there he was later allowed to go to Thirunelveli.  His wife Smt. B. Kalyani Amma resigned her teacher’s job and accompanied her husband along with their two children.  The sufferings of this family for the cause of the freedom of  expression are  still remembered as a legend.  The reward that he got for his courageous stance against corruption and for his advocacy of democratic practices was deportation from his native state.[19]  Swadeshabhimani wrote 16 books including the biographies of Mahatma Gandhi and Carl Marx.  The biography of Marx was the first of its kind to appear in any Indian language.  It was published in 1912, five years before the October Revolution.  The publication of the biography of Mohandas Gandhi well before his emergence on the Indian Political scene was significant.  This was the first book on Mahatma Gandhi in Malayalam.  These publications evinced Ramakrishna Pillai’s prophetic vision.  He thought far ahead of his contemporaries.  He never wavered from his principled stance.  But these qualities made him suffer at the hands of the authorities.  He died on 28th March, 1916 from the attack of T.B.

(ii)     K.P. Kesava Menon (1887 – 1978)

K.P. Kesava Menon was not only a journalist but also a great humanist.  His important works are ‘Nam Munnottu’,  ‘Kazhinja Kalam’ and ‘Rashtra Pithavu’.  Kesava Menon was a father  figure on the Kerala scene, who lived a ninety one year span of life, braving total blindness, and political hostility for a considerable part of his life.  During the Second World War he was practising as an advocate in Malaya.

Kesava Menon was the founder editor of the Mathrubhumi, started on 17th March, 1930 from Kozhikode.  It was started as a tri-weekly.  Kesava Menon’s memorable statement in the first issue of the Mathrubhumi runs thus: “Ever remembering that we have set our not to propagate the interests of any one section, or creed, but to promote the general welfare of the Nation, and in the firm belief that all men are equal so far as the common and general rights  are concerned we shall fight without fear for the advancement of freedom and shall never falter in the endeavour’’.[19]

Kesava Menon conceived the Mathrubhumi, not merely as a medium of information, but as an instrument for educating the people.  Mathrubhumi found that Gandhiji’s ‘Young India’ was the best model to emulate.

Kesava Menon’s personal life was punctuated with sad happenings and blindness came upon him at a time he was at the peak of his career.  This man, born in a small village of Taroor on the first of September, 1887, near Palghat was destined to leave behind him an enviable National Heritage in Literature, Journalism, Politics and Social and Cultural activities.

(iii)    Kandathil Varghese Mappillai (1858 – 1904)

Kandathil Varghese Mappillai was the founder editor of Malayala Manorama.  Manorama was founded as a weekly in 1890.  It became a bi- weekly in 1901 and tri-weekly in 1918.  Since 1928 it has been a daily companion to thousands of readers, with an interval from 1938 to 1947.

Varghese Mappillai was born in 1858 at Niranam in Tiruvalla Taluk of Central Travancore.  After his studies, he found that a journalistic career was suitable for serving literature and the country alike.  He went to Cochin.  In 1889 he established Malayala Manorama Company Limited.  The name ‘Malayala Manorama’ was suggested by Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran.

One of the important contributions of Varghese Mappillai was the founding of the Literary Society, ‘Bhashaposhini’ Sabha. A convention of poets was convened by Varghese Mappillai and Kumara Mangalathu Neelakandan Nampoothiripad in Kottayam in1891.  Many poets and other literary stalwarts attended the meeting.  It was the first all Kerala literary meet.  A Magazine, ‘Bashaposhini’ was published from September 1896 onwards from Kottayam as the organ of the Kavisabha.

Varghese Mappillai established Mar Divanasyos Seminari, M.D. High School in Thiruvalla and Thirumoolapuram  Balika Madam School for Girls. Sri Moolam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore presented him a ring studded with jewels and a Veera Srinkala (Bracelet) in appreciation of his services.  He wrote 9 books mainly related to literature.  He worked hard, neglecting his health.  He died in 1904 at the age of 46. His services  to Malayalam language and literature cannot be forgotten.  His style of writing the editorials was unique, and he advocated script reforms to simplify the printing of Malayalam. [19]

(iv)    Present Journalistic Arena in Kerala

We have seen that Kerala is the birth place of great journals.  Today also this most literate state in India, has quite a good number of weeklies and other periodicals to its credit.  All of them are publications enjoying freedom of expression.

Malayala Manorama, Mathrubhumi, Deshabhimani, Kerala Kaumudi, Mangalam, Deepika, Madhyamam, Chandrika, Janayugam, Janmabhumi….etc., are the important newspapers published from Kerala.  There are above hundred newspapers published from this small state.  Indian Express, Hindu and Pioneer are the main English papers, having editions in Kerala.  Besides daily papers, so many weeklies, bi-monthlies, Women’s magazines, Children’s Magazines Cartoon magazines etc., are also published from the state.  The readership of the state is above that of any developed country.  Newspapers have different editions in each districts.  Some papers have editions abroad because there are served foreign countries with considerable Malayalee population.

Newspapers are a flourishing business today.  Huge capital is working behind them. The owners of important dailies are the owners of other commercial ventures.  Naturally the aim, policy, editorial concepts and ethics are decided by the media owner.  The editor is only a paid employee.  This adversely affects the public opinion creating power of the media.  “The modern press has a dual aspect; primarily it is a medium of expression and communication of information and ideas; it is also an industrial and business establishment where printing and publication is carried on for profit.  Day by day, the first aspect is ignoring.”[19]

There are hundreds of people working behind each newspaper.  Modern technological advancement has changed the media arena.  These two factors need huge investments.  So the newspapers are forced to accommodate a heavy flow of advertisements.  The interests of the advertisers are influencing the newspapers by and large. Newspapers adopt modern management techniques in all of its related fields.  This is also an important change.

Almost all Malayalam Newspapers give great importance to politics.  The first press commission of 1954 pointed out this fact.   The same state continues unabated.  The statements of politicians and superficial political discussions take a major portion of the space in a newspaper.  Scientific, technological and major political analysis are often ignored.  Though the pages increase, the matter content of news and article does not increase.

The television channels changed the print media’s approach also.  Basically T.V. is an entertainment media.  Now newspapers also have started giving more importance to entertainment.  Then also the news angle is ignored to a great extent.  Film, sex, crime, beauty contest stories receive greater importance.  The social responsibilities of the newspapers are not fulfilled.  The media have the power of opinion creation in any society.  But here we see the media advocating undesirable attitudes.  Even the newspaper layout and display are influenced by the television. “The competition between television and newspapers is aggressive today.  There is a T.V. touch in each newspaper.  Fair and balanced reporting is vanished.”[19]

Media activism is another trend which we can see in the Kerala newspaper arena.  Like Judicial Activism, this can also be harmful to the progress of society.  The privacy of the individual must not be ignored. The decency must be considered, each and every media activity must be based on public interest.  Both the ends and means must be pure.  False news must not be reported.  In short, the media must obey certain norms and principles.  The sense of ethics must be upheld at any cost.

Article 3.    Present Journalistic Trends

(i)      Sensationalism

People go to bed after seeing the last news bulletin in the television.  Then what can be news to them in the morning?  This is the serious problem that newspapers face in Kerala today.  The search for an answer to this question has led the journalists to resort to sensationalism, one of the most undesirable trends in journalism.  Writing, editing and giving pictures are made to cater to the needs of entertainment.

The sensationalism started in the developed countries mainly in the tabloids.  But in Kerala, the broadsheet papers are also showing this tendency.  Over the past few years in Kerala, the ‘tabloidisation’ of major newpapers is growing at a tremendous pace.  They flush with photographs of glamorous personalities and are accompanied by a write-up that is a mish mash of juicy tidbits and gossip from the filmi, fashion and corporate worlds.  Fortunately, it has not yet gone beyond the limit of decency. The sensationalism affects not only news but views too.  The views are often prejudiced and one sided.  Media scholars like Gravin Evans (London School of Journalism) admit the truth.[19]

Because of the T.V. culture, everything is a breaking news now-a-days. Cricket or film star related stories gain top priority over inflation, farmer suicide, terrorist attack and other such issues concerning the common man.  Wired stories and events are being reported rather than vital ones.  The Role of Media as an effective tool to empower the masses against a corrupt system is ignored. Sensationalism is considered as an undeciplinary media approach universally.  This will cause atrocities against victims.  Peeping to the private life of people is another character of sensationalised media.

The main aim of sensationalisation is circulation boost up.  Journalism has degenerated into a profession.  In the past it was a service.  Communalism, hidden political agenda and adulteration of the news are the main characteristics of today’s sensationalised approach.  It is called yellow journalism. [19]

Environmental issues are ignored in our media today.  Even when disasters occur as it happened in Bhopal, the papers sensationalised the news with elaborate descriptions of horrible sights.   Environmental destruction in the state was huge.  But most of the papers were blind to that. Only 2% of the total space is given to environmental news today.[19]  “Anti social activities destroy a society.  Like anti-environmental activities destroy the environment.  Both this are two planes of human existence.[19]

The media making even the environmental issues also sensational.  For example, the mainstream journals and newspapers did not give ample space for Medha Patkar’s struggle or the issues of Narmada Bachavo Andolan.  But the mass attempt of Medha and her followers to suicide become sensational news item.

Famous media expert Michael Traber explained the sensational approach of media as ‘the satanic era of public lies.’ He was not ready to consider media as a consumer product.  To him, ‘mass media is a social product and sensationalism is a crime.’

Our former President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has condemned  over sensationalisation of newspapers by saying that almost all our papers are having a negative approach.  ‘We are not recognising our efficiency.  Ours is a great country. India is the largest milk producing country in the world.  In case of remote sensing satellites we are the first.  The production of rice and wheat, we are the second in the world.  These types of great achievements are ignored by our media.  Most of our newspapers always giving news items about diseases, terrorism and crimes sensationally. It is not desirable. [19]

After 1996, about two thousand farmers committed suicide in Ananthapur district of Andhrapadesh.  The main stream papers did not give this news with enough importance.  P. Sainath, the famous correspondent of The Hindu criticised this.  These same dailies sensationally describing stories of beauty contests, fashion designing, food festivals, etc., with the help of specialised correspondents. [19]

News is becoming sensational when it is against the conventional values of the society.  The print media in Kerala sets apart too much space for Clinton-Monica sex scandal stories.  The values of the Keralite society was not taken into account.  But even then the major papers of Kerala gave undue importance to that story.  It is simply a dirty trick to increase circulation.  Some investigative stories are only disguised sensational stories.  Fashion, fiction and other superficial stories are getting importance even in our national dailies.  Today most of the papers are not reflecting the reality.  They are either giving partial views or constructing the news according to their own views. Some media doing this according to their ideological stand.  The competition for sensational news led the newspapers to the violation of law of the land and even journalistic ethics.

There are no simplistic solutions to avoid sensationalism. Committed journalists should report the Truth.  Only through professionalism, dedication to duty and truth, and ultimately love for the people and the country can improve things.

Genuine feelings get lost in trivial sensational news.  Many areas are being neglected.  Otherwise, they get coverage only when they become sensational.  Though it is an age of specialisation in every field, some sectors are neglected in our newspapers. Committed journalists should change this situation.  They must write for the people; not merely to please the media owner.  They have to show vision, commitment to values and velocity.

(ii)     Trivialisation of News

It is a common practice of the newspapers to undermine the importance of news items according to their vested interests. By giving trivialised version of an incident or fact the reader is denied a clear picture of it. Major issues must be given due weightage and seriousness. It is a basic principle of media ethics. From writing to display, news items must be treated with becoming importance. But some papers play down them or simplify them with a view to safeguard selfish motives of the media owners or to attune to journalists’ interest. Some newspapers show marked prejudice in favour of some shades of opinion while selecting news and articles for their special editions or material for editorials to the interests of the society.  This bias is highly detrimental.

Another cause of trivialisation is the impact of television channels. Television is basically a visual media and its main thrust is on entertainment. In the competition with the visual media the stoops to adopt such a mode, which in effect, trivialise cardinal issues, diluting them with buffoonery.  Like sensationalism, trivialisation is also a curse to media ethics. It will lead to the reader to a habit of ‘light’ reading and peripheral thinking. Important events such as weddings, and murders are described as trivial and insignificant matters while malignant gossip is  projected with minute details.  The coverage given by Indian media on the wedding of Liss Harlic and Arun Nayyar is a good example of trivialisation.

This kind of trivialisation made not out of ignorance. This is done deliberately as part of the process of manipulation widely prevalent in the field. Some reporters use their creative skill to concoct stories. This is most unfortunate because the primary commitment of a good reporter is to stand by truth. Giving importance to silly things is aggrandisement or trivialisation in the reverse order. This also is untruthful approach. Today, in the field of journalism specialisation increased. Crime, fashion, politics, sports, life-style, etc., are some such specialised areas. Here also the basic principles of ethics are ignored. Sex, violence, crime, etc., are reported as sources of entertainment by most of the papers. The advertisement culture prevailing in the field also encourages trivialisation and discourages serious reading as well as thinking.

Market always tends the media to trivialisation. Health, Psychology, Sports, Entertainment, Travel, Women, Lifestyle, Fashion etc are given in a simplified and peripheral manner. A beauty context in the city get more space than an accident.

The advertisements also plays major role in deciding the nature of publications today. Some newspapers screen them strictly. Some others collect advertisements using any hook and crook method. Some others avoid advertisements. There are certain media houses which consider advertisements must not influence the content mix. They obey the editorial principles even in the case of advertisements. Advertisements pictures and texts are also supervised by the editorial team. In such a case, the trivialisation of news due to advertisement influence decrease.

Globalisation is another culprit which misleads the media to tow the path of confusion and misrepresentation. Regional news are giving readers importance than national or international news.  While doing so, the beauty and felicity of a language are mercilessly butchered in order to sent the whims and caprices of greedy multinational giants.
In Latin America, Spanish and Portuguese get prominence. Almost all regional languages are dead. In Kerala also, the beauty of simple Malayalam language is destroying. English become the medium of education and communication. As a result, English words and phrases are quite common in regional dailies also. Salman Rushdei, in a recent interview declared that he no longer subscribed to newspapers and magazines because they are all available online. Another cause is that,  they trivialise news items. Every dead wood periodical in the world faces the danger of a young generation that has fallen out of the habit of paying for ‘Content’ whether it be music, films or journalism. (Outlook weekly, 20th Oct. 2008)

Trivialisation is happened due to the rise of news management from outside also. There is a real possibility to manipulate media deliberately. Selective reporting, spiking, double standards…. etc. are very commonly alleged against newspapers, and by their nature and forms of bias not easy to establish or guard against.

Almost all of the tabloid journalists are trivializing news continuously. They are often accused of sacrificing accuracy and the personal privacy of their subjects in order to boost sales. Supermarket tabloids are often focused on entertainment rather than news. A few have “news” stories that are so outrageous that they are widely read for entertainment purposes, not for information. Some tabloids do not purport to maintain common journalistic standards, but may fall far short in practice. Others make no such claims. Some publications deliberately engage in satire. This is also a kind of trivialisation.

Some newspapers are known to employ inefficient fake editors to create an impotent editorial board which will dance to the tune of the capitalist media owner, whose interests rest, by and large, on the distortion of truth. In certain papers we see the influence of ‘imported journalism’ and their editors are but showpieces. This intellectual simplification may lead to the destruction of secular democracy and the ruin of free and uninhibited journalism.  The community of newspaper readers should be extremely cautious in accepting news appearing in newspapers and should exercise their power of discrimination to the fullest extent before doing so.  Only then can we guard against the menace of being duped or misled by the machinations of a powerful of vested interests.

(iii)    Commercialisation of Newspapers

Thomas Griffith pointed out that the trouble with the newspaper business is that it is becoming more and more just a business.  Justice J.N. Ray, the Chairman of Press Council of India also said recently that the media activities in the country is deviating from values and compromising with the market forces. [19]

Generally speaking, media is the mirror of the society.  It should reflect the problems and needs of the society. Social commitment is giving path to commercial concerns now-a-days.  Globalisation and modernisation are the straw that brake the camel’s back.  The primary place of news is loosing. Advertisement and entertainment come to that place.

Selling is appealing to human nature rational or emotional.  Today newspapers consider themselves simply as products.  Then the main motive become selling the product.  The crass commercialism of newspapers make them repugnant to journalistic ethics.  Predatory  price wars and trade competition among dailies is a market reality today.

Any civilised society considers, the newspaper as an agency of communication, capable of bringing public interest by educating its readers.  The newspaper should teach the citizen to keep the public interest in mind even while pursuing their private interests.[19]  But today, journalists and editors are very few in number; media tycoons and content creators are large and unwieldy.  To them, democracy and the role of fourth estate are only in theory.  In practice, News is degraded only to  content in their view.  Profit making is the motive of any business.  News business also becoming a profit making activity.  The place of news is replaced to news stories for fulfilling the desires of the common public.  Many capitalists are now trying to come to the media field.  This is because of two reasons – one is profit making using the media; the other is to preserve their all other business ventures using the power of the newspapers.  It’s a universal phenomenon.  We can see such attempts in the small Kerala’s media field also.

According to the world Association of Newspapers, the circulation of newspapers increased 0.46 percentage in the year 2003.  The circulation of newspapers has been increasing gradually after 1997.  The advertisement revenue is also increasing day by day.   But the editorial content of newspapers does not present an optimistic picture.  The ‘economics’ of the media is good but the content mix is not so good.

The corporate giants in the world are trying to establish a hold on India’s ‘media market’.  This is not only for profit motive, but also for changing the values of Indian society according to the global scenario.  Capital forces have to work irrespective of the boundaries of nations.  Indian middle class are very powerful consumers in the view of multinational companies.  So they regularly trying to control the media field of India and by our government and authorities.  This approach is called ‘Neo Liberalism’.  The final result of this process is that two or three persons will control the entire media field of the country.  It will finally affect the democracy and human rights of our country.

Indian media companies are trying to resist the incursion of the foreign media into the Indian soil.  It is not because of the national consideration but out of fear of adversely affecting their own business interest.  The foreign companies can give newspapers at lower rates and that may affect the sale of the indigenous journals and telecasts.  Also the advertisement revenue will also be divided at the disadvantage of the native media.  The present law in India limits foreign share to a maximum of 26%.  Besides, the editor of the publication must be an Indian citizen.  These two restrictions are effective enough to control the supremacy of the foreign media.  “Foreign media owners could not fulfil the needs of India.  They only see Indian culture and traditions as a tool for their business.  So the foreign ownership to Indian media is dangerous” – famous editor Sir Harold Evans pointed out in his Mammen Mappillai Memorial lecture at NewDelhi in 2007.[19]

The competition among newspapers have dual face.  One is for circulation increase and the other is for space marketing ie, advertisement.  The cut-throat competition now overcomes all limits.  Gifts, profit-cards, insurance schemes for subscribers, scratch and win offers, games like ‘Thambola’ (a kind of gambling) are using to increase copies.  This short cuts to circulation hike does not help the reader morally or intellectually.  On the other hand it is degrading him only as a consumer of the media brand.  This is a common trend in Kerala’s media field, especially among big newspaper houses.

Some big companies now try to woo newspapers by making them shareholders free of cost with ulterior motives.  In this way they expect to get undue favour from the media to the extent of manipulation of news. This is a kind of aggressive business tactic, known as ‘private treaty’ system.  Fortunately this trend is not widely prevalent in Kerala though it is a stark reality in many other states.  Collecting funds and fixed deposits by media houses from the public is a common phenomenon in Kerala.  This fund raising is a kind of banking.  Here also the media is pledging its credibility for monetary  benefits.  This is another face of commercialisation.

What will happen if we allow the media to function merely as a commercial venture?  The final result of this will be the commercialisation of the government.  Today political activities are a money making activity for many leaders.  Political parties, religious institutions etc are also degraded as business organizations.  Once upon a time, we consider educational institutions, publishing houses, newspapers and hospitals as service fields of sanctity.  But in Keralite reality, all of them are becoming  the most profitable business in the society.

Commercialised newspapers, never give importance to the problems of marginalised groups in the society.  If a girl got ‘world beauty queen’  prize the whole world will know within seconds.  What will happen, when a poor peasant committed suicide in a remote village because of debt?  No commercialised news paper will report this.  The transparency of democracy will lost.  We will not know what we ought to know. “In India water becoming a product to sell.  Rivers are selling for years.  These dangers are not new.  But we know them only now.  In the age of globalisation and commercialisation our media darkened all these things’’ – M.P. Veerendrakumar Ex. M.P. pointed out this, though he was also the managing director of The Mathrubhumi Daily in Kerala. [19]

Carl Marx said prophetically, the first freedom among press freedom is the freedom of the press not to become a business.  After independence, the press became more and more commercialised in India.  It projects politicians, religious leaders and literary men as miracle men.  The moral and intellectual equanimous  stand looses.  Commerciatised newspapers causes moral degradation with the help of the superficial rhythm of written lines and with the help of lines which are never written.

In this commercialisation the importance of the editor become lesser and lesser.  In the past, important newspapers are led by the Editors.  But today, the editor is only a person who was responsible legally on a printed matter under the PRB act.  He is just leading a group of trained professionals. Professionalism is a bye product of enlightened capitalism.  Here the editors naturally lost the strength of idealism.  The national feeling for integration is loosing from our newspapers.  The priority given by big newspapers on developmental issues are not always good for the society.

Another important problem of commercialisation is that  it ignores the villages.  Though the big newspapers, editionise news items  newspapers are part of the establishment.  They fulfil the interests of groups.  But many a time, the large media houses could not know or realise the mind of the rural masses. So in like many other fields, the theory of ‘small is beautiful’ is relevant in the media sector also.

Though the competition is strong, its impact is felt to any considerable extent in Kerala’s media field.  Journalists changing their institutions for seeking better job opportunities and financial situations is a common phenomena in other parts of the  country.  But it is not so common in the Kerala’s print sector.  This is mainly due to the commercial ‘understanding and cooperation’ of the major newspaper houses.  When the newsprint price hike happens, the newspapers resist the move jointly.

The story of newspapers starts from the letters which patiently picked up from the composing box.  Then came monotype, lyno type, D.T.P., online and now in cyber space……. A common subscriber considers the newspaper as his able advocate and spokesman in every genuine issue.  It is not good to hurt this faith because of commercialisation.

(iv)    Over Importance to Advertisements

The existence of a large scale newspaper is mainly depends on advertisements today.  If a daily got more than sufficient advertisements it can easily ignore subscribers and subscription income.  Free papers can be produced and distributed.  In many countries such papers are a success.  The cost of production is meeting only through advertisement revenue.  Television news is almost free in every country.  So news paper must be given freely.  Such an argument is being strengthened from many corners.

In Kerala, if a newspaper company decides to avoid advertisements fully,  a copy of its newspaper will have to be sold at Rs. 18 per copy.  Today the price of a newspaper is just Rs. 4.00 on an average.  So a refusal to entertain advertisement will not be feasible at all. In short, an advertiser is giving a subsidy to the reader! In other words advertisements help the fourth estate to survive. The number of pages is decided in major dailies according to the volume of advertisements; not according to the news columns.  The ‘dummy’ page of a newspaper given to its editor is proportionate to the quantum of advertisements.  One of the largest circulating dailies in India, confessed openly that ‘readers are not our aim.  Readers are only a medium to reach to advertisers’.[19]  The circumstances of Kerala is also going in this path.

Advertisements were helping the newspapers in the past also.  But then advertising was the advertiser’s necessity.  The editor had the right to reject any advertisement.  But today immoral advertisements and even the advertisements of liquor are published in our important dailies.  This tendency is neither wise nor good.  “Since an advertisement is also a publication like an editorial or news story, The printer and publisher of a newspaper may be held liable for an advertisement, which is illegal, eg., because it is obscene or defamatory or relates to an article injurious to public health, even though such advertisement had been sent by a third party and the press was not in any way responsible for its authorship.”[19]

There is a strange situation that some dailies giving advertisements which are against to their editorial policy.  As a large scale business the newspapers need huge amounts for its existence and development.  The level of competition is also very high.  In this state, some dailies insisted their reporters to collect and canvass advertisements.  How can a correspondent write against advertisers?  Impossible ‘Free and fearless’ journalism is only a dream in such a situation.

In Kerala, Mathrubhumi the national daily reject crores of advertisement revenue by rejecting the advertisements of Co-Co cola and liquors.  It is a very good step in the editorial supremacy.  But at the same time this daily is collecting advertisements through its part time reporters and contract correspondents.

The competition in the media arena has assumed a dismal nature. The large scale newspapers are trying to establish a monopoly in the field. Victory is a craze in the modern world of competition especially in the business field.  Once got the foremost place in this speedy race,  most of the media owners trying to exploit the consumer.

The general assumption is that those who give big advertisements are different from those who run newspapers.  But in reality, they both think alike.  Within the limitations of such a situation what can be done is to evolve a broad approach to news and views and be consistent and true to that approach through out.  Those who give big advertisements, ultimately govern the media. “He who pays the fiddler, decides the tune!”  The over importance to advertisements make the media world is controlled by capitalist forces and capitalists.

Ours is a consumeristic society.  Common people are swimming with the main stream of the society.  In case of advertisements, the media make its readers brand conscious.  The magic of advertisements helping the product manufactures to loot from the pockets of millions of readers. Here also the media is forgetting the  primary duty of it – to inform accurate things.  Media it self is turning as a consumer product today.  The reader becomes addicted to the language, style, layout and policies of the newspaper which he likes.

The advertisements arise the emotional place of the readers mind; not the intellectual plane.  ‘The advertisement business exploits the social values.  It is a trap which aims at groups’.[19]

We have already discussed the nature of news and  advertisements which appear in the media. Now drawing your attention to the tricks being played to misguide the reader.  Sometimes advertisements appear as news itself, without mentioning that.  The influence of advertisement department on editorial section is increasing even in Malayalam Dailies today.  No one in the media field realises that the reader is the ultimate decision maker in everything.  The unwritten code of conduct in the field is never to mislead the reader by giving paid advertisements as reliable news.  The Federation of International Editors of Journals has given this guideline in the year 1981.

The overflow of advertisements decreases the space for news. The reader does not realise this in ordinary situations.  The advertisements have also information value.  Some newspapers describe advertisements as ‘news that is of use’.  But above all the reader is buying the newspaper for news; not for advertisements.  A new word is coined by English newspapers as ‘advertorial’ ie., advertisement plus editorial.  This is advertisements displayed as news.  This tendency is becoming common in Kerala also.

Another tendency in our media field is that giving the advertisements of certain products which are legally restricted to give advertisement.  This advertisers produce and advertise them easily.  The advertisement of liquor is banned in our newspapers.  But the brand name is commonly advertise as it is that of another product.  This type of cheating is common even in the Malayalam dailies and magazines. The basic thing about advertisement is it must be moral and truthful to an extent.  This is violating here.

A good newspaper institution could not stand only for advertisement revenue forgetting the social commitment fully.  At the same time no media can fully ignore the economic side of it by arguing for commitment to readers.  Common people always visualise the media as their spokesmen.  So they wish that in a democratic country, the newspapers must fulfill their duty (dharma).  There are so many problems to common people.  But they are creating the society.  The society itself is the market of the newspaper.  So the relation between ethics and economics must be complimentary; not contradictory.  This we shall discuss in the next article.

Article 4.    Journalistic Ethics Vs Economic Viability

Journalism was committed to service in decades ago.  Now it is a commercial activity. So the attitude of people towards journalism  has also changed.  But even today there are some ethical principles and practices which the journalists follow.  The economic considerations deviating the press from ethics.

Big newspaper institutions becoming more and more bigger.  They are killing the small papers mainly with the help of price-war.  Naturally the advertisers and ‘sponsors’ helping the giants in the field.  Today newspapers are enterprises which need huge investment of capital.  The capital must ensure the profit in the market and victory over others.  So the field itself is renamed as ‘media industry’ or ‘newspaper industry’.  In Kerala, also this tendency is a reality.  News itself is covered to news stories.  The entertainment value got importance than the news value.  ‘In ordinary sense, cinema, drama or sports items do not express social commitment.  So newspapers also must not show any commitment to society’.  This type of an argument is also rising gradually.  The only slogan is ‘more readers and there by more advertisement revenue’.  This concept changed the role of the Editor in the newspaper.  In the past the Editor was struggling for the society.  He was a lamp post and guide of the society.  He was the final word of newspaper ethics and vision.  But today the role is changed.  This change is foreseen by K. Rama Rao before four decades. He wrote in his auto biography, ‘The Pen is My Sword’ published in 1965 – ‘The Indian journalistic field is changing.  It’s body is becoming weaker.  The soul of it also will be weakened. The editor will be vanished and instead of him dictators will come.  They will be admiring money; not values. They will try to kill Indian Democracy which is a small Hercules.  They are approaching the media only for monetary benefits.  Either the newspaper field becomes a toy in their hands.  Otherwise the people rise and throw them out.’ [19]

In the past, only papers are mainly collecting advertisements.  Today, television, radio, internet and other media always searching for advertisements.  The space marketing field is an arena of utmost competition.  The advertiser is eager to enquire about the purchasing power of the readers of the papers.  The editorial policy is deciding the readers.  Naturally the policy is lenient to the upper class of the society, who have more purchasing power.  Here economics wins the ethics once again.  Each and every decision of the media is indirectly influencing by the monitory thread; though many media owners will not agree this.  Strengthening journalism is not the primary aim of media owner in the modern society.  The market share value of the media house and the net profit and turnover are getting importance.

Media culture itself, is becoming profit-oriented.  Then what is the use of insisting on old principles?  This is a question asked by even from media experts.  Media is the weapon of globalization in the resent age.  In America, the Green peace organisation gave an advertisement about the dangers of car using.  No newspapers were ready to publish that even when the organization was ready to pay the rate that which was equal to the rate given by the Ford company.  In our state, the influence of advertisers is not so much.  But here also the matters are going in the same path.  Ben H.  Bagdikian wrote: “a profitless newspaper will soon die; a losing broadcast station will fall silent or be sold.  Yet, a news medium without constructive social purpose might as well be dead.  The problem today is not that this tension between profit and public service exists, but that so much of corporate journalism pretends that it does not.  It is considered bad taste to talk publicly about the fact that the primary source of our political and social intelligence is a set of corporations in business to make money”.[19]

Everything in our society facing the erosion of values, and so the newspapers.  Commercialisation is the cause of this. Politicisation and Vulgarisation of newspapers is a reality.  Each and every paper have its own vested interest.  Though most of our journalists are professionals today, they cannot control the problem.  If the media owner has no consideration to newspaper ethics, no professional journalist could stand for this primarily; newspaper is the voice of the voiceless.  It must be realised by each and every person behind this.

Media owners like Rupert Murdoch only wish to enlarge their media empire.  They will not stand for the accuracy of news.  The Wall Street Journal of America bought by Murdoch recently and changed the age-old values of it.  The taste of people will be changed according to the capitalist culture.[19]

Mahatma Gandhi pointed out the importance of ethical and economic approaches in the media field when he visited Kozhikode.  He came there to reveal the portrait of K. Madhavan Nair, who was one of the founders of the Mathrubhumi.  Gandhi said; “Mathrubhumi is a daily which stands on its on feet.  It is a rare situation.  Only some newspapers in India could attain such a stand.  So Mathrubhumi has a unique position among India’s newspapers.  It is not only important that a person has huge capital, but also he know that how that capital can be utilised.  Economic issues are secondary in importance.  The policy of the paper and the service it doing for the society is important.  To increase the financial strength of the paper, the employees must also work together”.[19]

(i)      Loss of Credibility

Our newspapers grow from letter press age to computer age.  In that sense the growth is tremendous.  But at the same time the newspapers become smaller in the case of credibility. Credibility for a paper is like oxygen to a living being.  The credibility of a newspaper, in the long run, depends upon the truthfulness and lack of exaggeration or partisanship. Regrettably many newspapers deviate from absolute objectivity and are often found to exaggerate events and even to invent them largely to support certain interests – local, national and international.  In this view, the media in India is often one sided although the large masses of readers are influenced by printed matter, thus leading to media popularity.

In normal case, print media is more authentic than the visual, the latter being fleeting and calculated to create prejudice.  They are more advertising rather than authentic.  But competitive tendencies are creeping into our Fourth Estate making the worse appear the better and creating false and ill-informed opinions.  Truth is often becoming a causality because of the monetary interests which govern the media.

Kerala is fragmented by the number of editions of newspapers.  Necessarily only a small amount of news items is made available to the whole state.  There is a failure to comprehend major events because of newspapers having several local editions with focus on regions and sub regions.

The credibility of a newspaper depends on what the readers expect from it. Every newspaper has its own basic philosophy.  If it departs from that philosophy, which it has cultivated among its readers for long, the paper looses its credibility.  If ‘Malayala Manorama’, at the time of elections, writes an editorial calling for the need to vote communists to power, it has lost credibility.  The same goes with ‘Deshabhimani’ also if it writes an editorial praising American imperialists.

Correspondents reporting according to the policy of the paper.  As far as the management is concerned every report edited on the basis of that policy.  “The leader writer of any paper is the prisoner of the philosophy of the paper.  News is now a commodity to be sold in a crowded market and therefore each seller has to devise unique methods to sell his ware,” E. M. Sreedharan wrote about the loosing credibility of our newspapers before a decade.[19]

Newspapers run by political parties generally publish only their party view.  This does not mean that non-party newspapers are more objective.  Also credibility gets diluted or distorted during communal clashes, social-political tensions, elections etc.  The discerning reader can glean through the papers and take what he/she wants.  But, for a large number of readers confusion distrust in political parties/ systems and a sense of helplessness do develop.  For instance, newspapers in Kerala lost credibility in the case of the ‘ISRO Spy’ scandal.  Even today we do not know the entire truth.  Public memory is short.  People either due to lack of time, interest or for other reasons fail to keep track of news.  Good reporting is when all sides of a question/event are given, leaving the judgement to readers.

Credibility is again the keyword, which can not be brought or built up in short time. “Credibility has to be earned the hard way and is not attainable overnight.  To earn it one has to ensure that facts remain sacred and reporting is unbiased.”[19]

Newspapers today regularly run corrections to sort our misinformation that inevitably creeps into some stories.  Not so common are outright retractions, which is a newspaper’s way of both correcting misinformation and apologising for it.  It hurts the newspapers credibility.[19]

The publication of news items and articles which defaming others will loose the credibility of the papers.  The fame of a person is his wealth.  No one have the right to destroy that wealth.  In many developed countries, media institutions have internal ombudsman for the redress of public complaints.  No Malayalam paper have this facility.  In India, ‘The Hindu’  have this system.

As a custodian of public interest, the Press has a right to highlight cases of corruption and irregularities in public bodies but such material should be based on irrefutable evidence and published after due inquiries and verification from the concerned source and after obtaining the version of the person/authority being commented upon.  Newspapers should refrain from barbed, stinging and pungent language and ironical/ satirical style of comment.

The media, in America is in front row in the case of investigative journalism.  But they are far behind in the case of credibility.  Though we are having low literacy rate in India the media have credibility.  But it is gradually loosing because of many reasons.  As Ron F. Smith explains, Today the media and media activists are popular to common people. But credibility of them decreases.  In the past, number of media are less in number.  Today we are in a world of multiplicity of media.  The errors of one media is revealed by other media today.  This tendency is another cause of decreasing credibility.  What happened in America, may happen in Kerala in the near future.

The importance of new sources must also be considered by journalists.  There is a journalistic saying that, a reporter is as good as his source.  Editors will expect a reporter’s story, without personal biased for they know that the readers expect as much.  “Once a reporter enters a working newsroom he/she aquire access to one of society’s great powers, the power to give or deny information.  You are the eyes and ears of the Public.  Good reporter has a passion for justice.  Otherwise the credibility of the paper will loose.”[19]

(ii)     Views Papers Vs Newspapers

In the last chapter we had discussed the topic of the losing credibility of our news papers.  As a result of the loss of credibility, our newspapers are becoming views papers.  Mainly the papers reflect the views of its owners.  While competing to get more and more readers, the newspapers are trying to value addition.  They are naturally discussing things in a ‘news plus angle’.  Then coming the overflow of views over news.

While giving spice to news, the soul of news is losing.  Writing continuously on peripheral- issues, add sensationalism to investigative reports, downplay important news items, give over importance to small incidents are common trends in Malayalam journalism today.  Here newspapers playing the role of ‘sedatives’ on its readers.  Giving colour and structure to news items according to vested interest is not good for the society.

Most of our newspapers are ready to publish the news stories which are even fabricated by journalists.  They consider that what they serve will be swallowed by the readers.  This is a false calculation.  In short, here the media could not become the voice of the society.  Some small newspapers in Kerala are giving more news items which are given by large scale papers.  Also they are not fully localising the news stories.

Small papers knowing the mind of ordinary people  and giving more importance to local issues.  Fearless criticism, the positive approach to the problems of the society, colourless presentation of news items, simple language, commitment to the society…..etc.  will give more strength to small newspapers.  The tendency to split local editions district-wise does make the reader’s horizon narrow.

Media activity is a psychological activity of the society.  So a media person has many things to take care of.  The journalists could take care of the ideas of their management.  Also the reporters and editors have their own interests.  These interests will reflect on the working field.  Also the journalists between different institutions are in good friendship among them.  Then they can easily plant news items and views in different papers at the same time.[19] Though this tendency is not wide because of the strong competition among media houses in Kerala, it should be removed for the sake of the society.  The lack of a healthy media sense is among media field itself.  Media persons must become good social beings.  They should show the new horizons of development to the entire society.  They must stand for environmental protection.  Also they must give voice to the voiceless like the downtrodden people and Daridranarayanas.

Giving views to tarnish the image of some political leaders is a common tendency in the Kerala’s media arena.  It is only due to political ill will and lack of wisdom of journalists.  ‘The practitioners and proprietors of news institutions to devote themselves to high human purpose, in other words to  be committed to men.  The sad fact is that not all men who find themselves in important positions in the news are wise and human.”[19]

Article 5.    Journalism and Politics

In history we can see many instances where Press and Politics go hand in hand.  The Peoples Paper belonging to Earnest Jones, with whom Carl Marx shared the editorship in 1852.  Launched in May 1852, it became the largest working class newspaper ever produced.

In India, Mahatma Gandhi, Balagangadhara Tilak, GopalaKrishna Gokhale, Muhammadali Jinna, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru etc.  are closely related to newspapers.  Many of them organized or published their own newspapers.  In Kerala also great leaders like K. Kelappan, K.P. Kesava Menon and Sahodaran Ayyappan are closely related to newspapers.

Political parties and leaders play a very important role in moulding the destiny of a nation.  In a democratic polity like that of India all major decisions are political decisions,  taken by our political leaders.  Hence, no effort in nation building can succeed without the co-operation and support of political parties and political leaders in India.  So media could not ignore the political field.

‘Media, Democracy and Education are inter-related.  Training, Press freedom and culture will produce good citizens.  Every good political movement must be supported by the media.  We should reveal the part and role of the newspapers in political decision making’ – Leo Halsyospin, the former minister of France remarked.[19]  The great media educationist Len Masterman also underlines this by saying that democracy will not sustain fruitfully without the help of media.

In Kerala political facts came to be judged on the same criteria as other events and lost their priority over non political matters.  The media in General, but most distinctly the popular press, politics had to be as entertaining as cricket and football.

The depoliticisation  of the press was also the result of a specific discursive policy whose objective was to diversify the content of newspapers.  As a result, the range of topics touched on by newspapers expanded enormously, to the point that today journalism is a discourse which is characterised by the variety of subjects it deals with.

The relation between press and politics reversed and politics became one of the contents of journalism.  Journalists began to report politics according to their own needs and interests, covering the topic from their own perspective and own professional values.

The ‘Personalisation’ of public life refers to the fact that political reporting concentrates on individuals rather than on the political process itself.  Part of this ‘peopling of the press’ involves a process of ‘personification’ of politics, well-known personalities becoming ‘Surrogates for institutions’ and historical forces being anthropomorphized.  Another aspect of the focus on personalities is the interest the media pay to politicians’ private life.[19]  It is a universal phenomena.  The press in Kerala also giving high priority to the very Important People (VIPs) mainly in power politics.  The lives of ordinary people, in particular women, children and manual labourers, are rarely reflected in the mass media, except when crime and misfortune befalls them.

As media is an education system, it should have cultural and political objectivity and neutrality.  But most of the Keralite newspapers have political bias, though they admit it or not.  Newspapers are filled with the statements of politicians.  It is not news in the strict sense of the term.  A piece of news may be defined as a discursive statement about a real event which is both recent and of presumed interest to the audience.  Like any other reporting, political reporting also needs honesty.  As in all things, the best policy is honesty and these probably are no other profession where most people count on a journalist to be honest.  With the awesome power comes an awesome trust.  Many newspapers misuse the trust of people by giving reports which are distorted from truth.  Newspapers of political parties have certain limitations to give reports related to their political interests.  But now-a-days papers which are politically neutral are also giving news items with political calculations.

During our freedom struggle some papers wrote against Gokhale.  Gandhi resist it.  He had the view that disrespectful writing must be protested.  “It is our duty to protest against such writings.  We should consider men like Professor Gokhale to be pillars of Home Rule.  It is a bad habit that to say another man’s thoughts are bad and ours only are good.  Those who holding different views from our are not the enemies of the country”, Gandhiji wrote in Hind Swaraj. [19]  Ours is a country of political plurality.  So we must be ready to accept different political views.  The media should reflect different political views.  Kerala is a land which formulated coalition government far before it was realized in India.  We can not say that the political activities are value based.  The growing dissatisfaction with the policies of the state led to various movements among tribals, dalits, minority groups and other ethnic and religious communities.  Most of the major media does not give ample space for these problems.

Kerala is a consumer state.  Most of the essential services are privatised. As a reflection of the dominant norm of consumerism and consumption based development there has been a steady influx of NRI capital and the creation of a number of initiatives that have helped the development of privatized services especially in the area of health care, education and the housing market.  At the same time the states involvement in the provision of essential services has been cut.  This has reinforced the situation of unequal access to basic human rights and necessities.  The media deployment has merely aided the spread of consumerism and individualism.  Media houses got more and more advertisement from the producers of consumer items.

Today, more than ever before, the unity of the Nation is in danger of being eroded through the cynical manipulation of the masses by politicians and unscrupulous power-brokers.  Here also our media has a vital role to play.  Information is the main input to development.  The basic structural changes in the society mainly political and economic are related to the flow of information.

(i)      Irresponsible Reporting

In the last article we had seen that the freedom of speech and communication must be among the constitutive components of development.  Like any other social institution, the mass media are the responsibility of the public.  In addition, they are moral agents of their own, accountable to the people they serve.  “The mass media are more than aggregates derived from a series of ‘Professional’ judgments they are subject to both personal and corporate ethical scrutiny.” [19]

A media man has a sacred duty to protect the society especially the youth from harmful influences.  But for the most part, such media ethics are being ignored/sidetracked.  Even pornography and violence are propagated by the media with unbecoming vehemence.

A good reporter is considered as a person of influence, a purveyor of wisdom, a mould of opinions and a shaper of society.  What a reporter writes inevitably touches other people’s lines and newspaper stories really can ruin lives, just as they can make celebrities and causes of the obscure and dispossessed.  Consequently, no other profession, perhaps, is so obsessed with ethics, nor so roundly condemned for its transgressions.  Detached, impersonal, unprejudiced reports are the necessity of our time.  Unfortunately in Kerala, we can see several reports which are fabricated by journalists even in our large scale newspapers.

Responsible journalists always stick to the facts and never insert his personal opinion.  He/She will be discreet in the use of adjectives and surely will avoid cheap shots.  Such a reporter always remembers that he is only an observer and assesses his alliances.  Listen to the guidelines of the editors is the mark of a good reporter.  Like any other jury he will not convict without evidence. He knows that a legal defence against libel is provable truth.

Communication is a fundamental human need and a social necessity.  It is not a product for consumption, like sugar, and not merchandise for profit.  Communication needs to be redeemed and liberated from the culture of global capitalism and become, in all its multifarious traditional and modern forms a celebration of life-in-community.

By reporting and interpreting the news, the press has become a very important source of education and information.  The news is selected on the basis of a certain value judgement with the widening scope of newspapers and other media, this media must assume a greater degree of social responsibility.  Media are accountable not only to the public but also to other social institutions for their behaviour as means of communication.  Because of its vast readership and the consequent influence, the press needs to maintain a high standard of moral responsibility. “Good journalism should not only give the public what the public wants, but it should also give them what it thinks is good for the public.  In this way the press should enjoy its freedom with responsibility and balanced reports of news and views.”  [19]

In Kerala, the dependence of the people on the information supplied by the newspapers has increased.  With this the need for accurate reporting has also increased.  The superficial inaccurate treatment of news is full of dangers.  Firstly, such a shabby treatment can shake man’s faith in the press and secondly, misguided and misled by the inaccurate news reports, man may become a dangerous citizen.

It is obvious that getting the facts is the key to news reporting.  Since the facts are so many, therefore a good reporting is the discovery of right facts.  It not only involves the discovery of as many important facts as possible, but their selection as well as their presentation in such a way so as to make a comprehensible story.  The importance of accuracy can well be realized, when we know that today’s newspaper reader not only reads the newspaper but also listens to the radio and watches the T.V.  There are some other media also.  The reader will lose his faith in the newspaper as a media of information, if he reads inaccurate reports.  So the responsibility of reporters increased today than ever before.

A responsible reporter will be true to the facts and figures too.  In case of an interview he will quote the interviewee accurately.  In his report no important link in the story will be left out.  The most interesting and the most familiar person for the public in a newspaper is the reporter.  For the public the reporter is the press itself.  At all important meetings, demonstrations, national and international gatherings, and trouble spots the presence of the reporter represents the mysterious and invisible power of the press. “The newspaper today is a reflex of the day to day life and this reflex is made through the stories of responsible reporters”.[19]

A good reporter should strictly adhere to some professional ethics in his work.  Sometimes, while engaged in his profession he may come closer to some persons and develop confidential relations with them.  Some persons may also tell him their personal, private and business affairs.  But a responsible reporter should never betray their confidence under any circumstances by divulging the secrets which they have told him in good faith.  This quality of trustworthiness increases the popularity of the reporter and he is welcomed wherever he goes.  This will also enhance his reputation in all sections of the society.

One main cause of the complaint against misrepresentation in newspapers is that certain persons in the heat of excitement say things, which they do not mean.  And when reported accurately in the press, they deny having said such things. This is quite common in Keralite situations.  There are some such incidents which led even to the resignation of ministers in Kerala in the past few years.

If a report published in the paper is harmful and irresponsible, one can approach press council.  One can give petition against the paper and against the reporter.  But in India, Press Council has no power to execute punishment.  It can give regulations and timely guidelines to both newspapers and newspaper men.

 

 

(ii)     Politically Biased Approach

There are very few newspapers which are objective on all issues.  Most of them are politically biased, over a long period.  Distorting news and wrongly interpreting views is a common phenomenon in the state.  Some ordinary readers still believe that anything printed is a testimonial of truth and that otherwise it will not be printed.  They can not identify which is truth or false.  In fact, politically biased newspapers are misleading such groups through their distorted reporting and falsification.

Politically biased newspapers could not do justification to our great national ideals – Democracy, Secularism, Political Sovereignty, Socialism etc.  The Philosophy of the market – profits at any cost- is aggressively influencing the newspapers also.  The social commitment is ignored.  The policy-makers of the paper, not the reporters, are to be blamed for this.

Some newspapers are organs of political parties.  They have their own limitations.  The intelligent readers could realize this easily.  But some independent newspapers give biased reports disguised as truth.  This tendency is more during the time of elections.

The newspaper, as a means of communication, can better serve the public interest by educating it’s readers in political values than by acting as a mere propagandist.  It is better that the newspaper perform as a teacher in the school of democracy than as a spellbinder, by adopting the technique of the demagogue or charlatan to gain fame. It must be the guardian of virtues and righteousness even at the risk of life and private interest. The role of the teacher does not prohibit the newspaper from using catch words or the language of the man in the street, but it does forbid the creation of false issues and the practice of directing non rational appeals to promote self-interest and dubious values. “The newspaper should regard the voter as a citizen rather than as a pawn in the game of politics.  The newspaper should teach the citizen to act in the public interest instead of as a self seeker, a Protestant, a Catholic, A Pole, or a farmer.”[19]

No intelligently run newspaper try to take partisan approach and hence loose its credibility.  There is a school of thought in journalism which considers the party organs as not newspapers.  “A party newspaper ceases to be a newspaper to the extent that it is the mouth piece of the government and not an organ of public opinion”.[19] Journalism without the face of party politics is not easy today. Almost all newspapers approach political news according to the colour of the flag which involve in the issue.  Some political papers collect money from the public as donations as well as from the concerned party fund.  Such newspapers could not write the truth without their political bias.  This is not good journalism.  But there is a saying in the journalistic field that good journalism is bad business.  But there is no escape from acknowledging the fact that the vested journalism can’t flourish and the truth can’t pursued where there is intolertence and the crushing of dissent. “A journalist’s responsibility is to tell the truth.  That is his accountability”.[19]

A fully politically partisan approach will not succeed in journalism. There are so many examples to this in history. ‘The Peoples Paper’, which was the largest working class paper ever produced is a good example.  In spite of its excellent circulation figures, the funds raised were not enough to compensate for its continual loss and it ceased publication in September 1858 having only six years of age.

Then what should be the relation between press and politics.  In India, especially in Kerala, main papers were growing with the freedom struggle and other social movements.  They got strength from the movements because though they are part of it, they are fully committed to truth.  There is another argument that journalism is not only an invention of the market economy but that journalism is the narrative form capitalism took to become a historical force.[19]  Whatever may be the arguments we can see that ‘truth triumphs’ over politically biased approach in journalism like any other field of life.

Newspapers have the power to influence political field.  But if the newspapers show political favoritism and patronage, this power will loss. The same news published in various news papers in different ways.  This will create confusion in readers.  News papers project political personalities today.  Then the neutrality of news and natural value of political events will lose.  This is also due to the commercialisation of both society and the newspapers.

In Gujarat, during the time of communal riots the main newspapers – ‘Gujarat Samachar’ and ‘Sandesh’ published reports violating all media ethics.  The papers show criminal nature in reporting.  Both these papers have a circulation more than 10 lakhs.  Yet they join with communal forces.  The Editors Guild enquires about this approach to the editors of both the papers.  Their answer was common.  They are giving false information to defeat their opponents.  This taught us that limitless competition will destroy truthful approach.  In Kerala, the situation is not so crucial.  But the rate of competition is high.

Another contemporary trend in our news papers is that decreasing number of investigative stories.  The period between 1977 and 1991 is a golden time of political investigative reports.  1991 was the year which started globalisation in India.  In the period of free market and globalisation, newspapers are giving priority to economics than politics.  So many politically planned and planted stories are published in newspapers today. This is because of economic motives of the management.

(iii)    Untrue and Anti-social Elements

Both technologically and ideologically, news papers are changing.  In this globalised age newspaper is a commercialised product.  For a commercial activity, profit making is important.  All other things are secondary.  So newspapers today do not take up issues like in the period of freedom struggle.  They are pretending that they are with the people and always advocating for them.  This basic approach is untrue. The great ideals and visions of journalism are ignored today.

Ed Lambeth in his classic media ethics book, ‘Committed Journalism’, identified the principles that good journalists stand by: truth telling, justice, freedom, humaneness and stewardship.  Truth is necessary for ethical journalism.  Without truth, a journalist has no credibility.  The principle of justice relates to a reporter’s responsibility to be fair. A story should be complete, relevant, honest and straightforward.  The freedom principle means that a journalist should be independent both politically and economically.

A good journalist must be sure that the story he filed is accurate, fair and the editing and positioning of it is done with an eye toward the well being of the society or causing at least possible harm.  But unfortunately now in Kerala many type of prejudices rule the media world.  Some newspapers write with partially true information’s and false information.  The news items related to even terrorist activities are reported so.  When the responsible authorities deny it, the media kept silence.  A news item reported by major newspapers of Kerala about 300 Kashmir trained terrorists are in the state is denied by authorities later. Some times the media try to misguide even courts, as general public.  During the time of trial, some reporters approach the case without knowing whatever things documented in the case diary.  While considering the bail application of the accused in CBI custody in the Sister Abhaya case the Honourable High Court of Kerala criticised this approach of the media.[19]

Another tendency noticed in the Press in the state is not to report the story at all.  In the name of a ‘balanced’ approach important news are often relegated to the back pages and confined to small columns.  The treatment of the story in the paper is also important and note worthy.  It is a basic principle of journalism that all are equal under the media microscope.  But we can taste smacks of favoritism every where.  In broad sense it is an untrue approach to the reader.

Journalists are the first to take credit for stories and pictures that provoke others to action against social travesties and ill wills. So they should not give up their social consciousness and commitment.  Here also a truthful approach is an absolute necessity.  The newspapers are supposed to uphold certain principles.  The journalistic process has to have some kind of credibility.  The prime minister of India, noted it when he was addressing a press club in Chandigarh said, “Consider the fact that even one mistake, and a resultant accident, can debar an airline pilot from even pursuing his career.  Consider the case that one wrong operation leading to a life lost, and a doctor can no longer inspire the confidence of his patients.  One night of sleeping on the job at a railway crossing, an avoidable train accident, and a railway man gets suspended.  How many mistakes must a journalist make, how many wrong stories and how many motivated columns before professional clamps are placed?  How the financial media deal with important stories about the market that have no basis on facts?  Investors gain and lose, markets rise and fall, but what happens to those reporters, analysts, editors who influence these markets by their stories? [19]

Basic and traditional values of Journalism have not lost their relevance today.  Then can even now guide media decisions quite effectively.  Ethics is a code of values, which govern our lives, and are thus very essential for moral and healthy life.  In the context of the press, ethics may be described as a set of moral principles of values which guide the conduct of journalism.

Socially responsible, fair accurate journalism based on the theory of self-restraint is the solution in this present scenario, where journalists find themselves caught between traditional glorious values of past and today’s competition and fight to survive.

There are some anti social tendencies which are seen in our present day journalism.  Among them obscenity is the most important.  The prevailing rule at most newspapers in the world is: Don’t use any word that would make your grandmother blush.  The reasonable logic is that newspapers are designed for family consumption and some families still are shocked at the language that they would hear in most new rooms that never gets into print.  The language of some evening papers in Kerala is unbearable to common readers.

Accepting gifts and cash cheques is another undesirable tendency.  Ours is a country of poor millions.  But many times the media men show partiality to the rich people in the society.  I am sorry to say that quite a few journalists do not hesitate to take even the shares from the corporate sector.

Many of the journalists are having drinking habit today.  Journalistic work is a tensious job.  No one can deny that fact.  But liquor is not the remedy of that.  Most of the journalists are not realise this.  Some press conferences, even in Kerala are followed by cocktail parties.  This is a bad tendency because it gives tarnished image about journalists to the public.  Also it’s a fact that the drink evil destroys ones health, wealth and intellectual capacities gradually.  Swadeshabhimani K. Ramakrishnapillai, one of the forefathers of Malayalam journalism noted this in his famous book ‘Vrithantha Pathrapravarthanam’ far before.

Another anti social element is found in crime reporting.  Crime is news in all societies, in every culture and at all times.  Crime and criminals assume a lot of importance in journalism.  Malayalam press reports use crime to sell the papers and therefore commercialisation of news is the main objective of crime reporting in the state.  Ethics is therefore ignored, particularly when the crimes are of a sensational nature.  Reports are mixed with all sorts of views, speculations, biases, pre-conceived notions, hearsay information, etc.  The ISRO espionage case may be cited as an example.  Even reputed and widely circulated Malayalam dailies brought out serialised stories containing truth, half-truth and falsehood.  This type of approach to crimes is detrimental to our society.

References

[19]        Words worth, W.C., The Press in Modern India and the West: a study of Interaction of their civilizations.  By  L.S.S.O Malley (ed.), Oxford University Press, London, 1941, p.188

[19]        Vajpayee,  Ambika Prasad, Samachar Patrom Ka Ithihas, pp.  327-328

[19]        Hema Agarwal – Society, Culture and Mass Communication – Sociology of Journalism – Rawat Publications Jaipur and New Delhi, 1995 p. 9

[19]        The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. XXVI, Navajivan Publishing House Ahemedabad p. 286..

[19]        JayantParikh – Press and Journalism – Role and Responsibility in Developing Society.  Common wealth publishers, New Delhi, 1998 p. 53

[19]        Jayant Parikh, Press and Journalism Role and Responsibility in Developing Society, Common Wealth Publishers,  New Delhi, 1998.
p. 176

[19]        E.M. Rogers, ‘Modernization among Peasants. The impact of Communication,  Newyork, 1994. p. 169

[19]        E.M. Somerlant,  The Press in Developing Countries.

[19]        Dr. Kuppuswamy,  “Communication and Social Development in India.”

[19]        N. P.  Rajendran, Press Ethics and Law, Viewpoint Publishers Trivandrum, 2007, p. 124

[19]        ibid, p. 52

[19]        Suvarna Rekha – One and a half century of Malayalam Journalism, Kesari Memorial Journalist Trust, Trivandrum, 1998,  p. 118

[19]        Dr. J.V. Vilanilam – Nootiyarupathu Varshathey Malayala Pathrapravarthanam – Kesari Memorial Journalist Trust, 1998, p. 91

[19]        B.S. Kesavan, History of printing and Publishing in India – A story of Cultural Re-aweakening – Vol. II National Book Trust, New Delhi, 1988
p.  648

[19]        V.R. Menon, Mathrubhumiyude Charithram – vol. I.  1923-1935, Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. Calicut, 1973, p. 63

[19]        B.S. Kesavan, History of Printing and Publishing in India – A Story of Cultural Re-awakening Vol. -II, National Book Trust India, New Delhi, 1988, p. 664

[19]        Dr. Durga Das Basu, Law of the Press in India – Asutosh Lectures Calcatta University, Prentice Hall of India Private Limited, NewDelhi, 1980, p. 123

[19]        Dr. Sebastian Paul, When Channels Attacking the Viewers (article), Mathrubhumi Illustrated Weekly, Nov. 19-25, 2006 p. 49

[19]        Rajesh Talwar, Sensationalism and the Media, 2008, p.3)

[19]       Paul Manalil and L.I. Justin Raj, Madhyama Nireekshanam, CSS Thiruvalla and CISRS, Trivandrum, 1994, p. 63

[19]        ibid. p. 65

[19]        Dr. A.N.P. Ummerkutty, Bhashaposhini, 1988 Feb-March, p. 32

[19]       Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, My India-Message from the President, Department of Adult Education, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, 2003, P. 5)

[19]        N.P. Rajendran, “The Death of Fourth Estate,” Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd., Kozhikode, 2004, p. 24

[19]        Speech at Kozhikode, organized by Kerala Union of Working Journalists.  Reported by Mathrubhumi, September 22, P.5, Cochin Edn.

[19]        Chitton R. Bush, Newspaper Reporting of Public Affairs, Appleton Century Crofts, Inc. New York, 1951, p. 287

[19]        Malayala Manorama Daily, 16th November 2007, p. 1

[19]        Mathrubhumi Daily Dec. 19 2007, p. 3

[19]        N.P.  Rajendran, The Death of the Fourth Estate, Mathrubhumi Books, Kozhikode, 2008, p. 81

[19]        Dr. Durga Das Basu, Law of the Press in India – Ashuthosh lectures Calcutta University, Prentice Hall o India Private Ltd. NewDelhi, 1980,
p. 167

[19]        The Indian Express, 1-3-1991

[19]        N.P. Rajendran, ‘Press Ethics and Law’, View Point Publishers, Trivandrum, 2007,  p. 187

[19]        Edited by Warren K. Agee, Mass Media in a Free Society, Oxford and IBH Publishing Co, New Delhi, 1969, p. 7

[19]        KNEF Vartha, 2008 January – March issue, p. 7

[19]        From Gandhiji’s Speech on Mathrubhumi. Reported by the Mathrubhumi 14th January 1934.

[19]        Media Focus, January –April, 1999,  Calicut Press Club p. 70

[19]        Somanath Sapru, The News Merchants – How they sell News to the Third World, Dialogue Publications, New Delhi, 1986. p. 89

[19]        Leonard Rayteel, Ron Taylor, ‘Into the News Room – An Introduction to Journalism; Parentice Hall of India Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 1992, p. 138

[19]        ibid, p.  131

[19]        Mathrubhumi Illustrated  Weekly 2008 Nov 16-27 p. 15

[19]        Ben H. Bagdikian, The Press and its Crisis of Identity, Oxford and IBH Publishing House, New Delhi, 1969, p3

[19]        Paul Manalil, L.I Justinraj, Madhyama Nireeskhanam, CSS Thiruvalla and CISRS Trivandrum 1994, p. 23

[19]        Jean K. Chalaby, The Invention of Journalism, Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998, p. 109

[19]        M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, edited by Anthony J Parel, Cambridge Texts in Modern Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1997,  p. 16

[19]        Ed. Paul Manalil, The Dynamics of Modern Communication – An Indian Perspective, C.S.S. Books, Thiruvalla, 2006 p. 33

[19]        Gopal K. Puri, Journalism, Competition Success Review, Sudha Publication Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi,  p. 32

[19]        ibid p. 91

[19]        Chilton R. Bush, Newspaper Reporting of Public Affairs, Appleton –Century – Crofts, Inc New York, 1951, p. 287

[19]        M. Chalapathi Rao, The Press in India, Allied Publishers Private Limited, Bombay, 1968, p. 101

[19]        Kuldip Nayyar, Accountability of Media, Article Published on KUWJ Pathrapravarthakan, Jan. 2009 Book II, issue I, p. 31

[19]        Jean K. Chalaby, ‘The invention of Journalism’, Macmillan Press Ltd, 1998, p. 76

[19]       The Mathrubhumi Daily, Dated 2-1-2009, CHN Edition, p. 13

[19]       Kuldip Nayyar, Accountability of Media, KUWJ Pathrapravarthakan, 2009 January, Book II, issue -1, p. 33.

 

 

 

CHAPTER – IV

FOUNDATIONS OF GANDHIAN JOURNALISM

          Mahatma Gandhi is an inspiration to millions of people even today.  It is because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things.  It is preposterous to think that good things will only come from Washington or from New Delhi – they will come from good people anywhere in the world.  Gandhi used many tools to bring about positive changes in the people.  Journalism was one of most effective instruments for achieving his purpose.

Gandhi was both a visionary and a revolutionary.  He was the undisputed leader of one of the greatest struggle for justice in history.  He was a great communicator also. The methods of his communication he employed were novel and noteworthy.  “He wrote his letters in his own handwriting.  He used his publications fruitfully at a time when 83% of his countrymen were illiterate. Gandhi’s publications were not circulated as large scale newspapers.  But many newspapers in the world got main stories from Gandhi’s publications.  The picture of that small, aged man in two linen clothes was seen in newspapers and news reels everyday”.[19]

The main ideas and principles of Mahatma Gandhi were put forward through his journals.  He knew that the success of Satyagraha was largely dependent on its wide publicity.[19]  As a Satyagrahi, Gandhi always keenly observed the press material even in its smallest details.  He took precautions against the malicious agitations engineered by his opponents.  He wrote in his autobiography – “all sorts of falsehoods appeared in the press about my co-workers and myself.  But my extreme cautiousness and my insistence on truth, even to the minutest detail, turned the edge of their sword.”[19]

Gandhi attached great importance to moral and ethical standards in journalism.  Even today, in journalism the content is very important.  Journalists must stand by good initiatives and time- honored values.  Gandhi insisted that journalists must not join hands with evil forces. They must sympathise with the victims of attributes.  Then they get a moral strength to fight for justice.  This moral force is the fuel of a nation’s progress.  Gandhi considered the media persons as the torch bearers of national progress.  But they are under tremendous pressure from various quarters, in carrying out their day to day work.  Luckily for the society, the media still enjoy considerable power to act as an effective agent for effecting positive changes in the society.  The immediate task before journalists is to recapture the respect of the profession much of which it has lost in recent times.  To win back the professional respect, journalists have to show the courage, to be firm and point out what is right and what is wrong without fear are favour.

As a political activist Gandhi used the media to achieve this objective.  It is a model to all other political leaders.  Gandhi prepared the Green Pamphlet and printed ten thousand copies of it.  He sent it to all the papers and leaders of every political party in India.  “The Pioneer was the first to notice it editorially.  A summary of the article was cabled by Renter to England, and a summary of that summary was cabled to Nakal by Renter’s London office. This cable was not longer than three lines in print.  It was a miniature, but exaggerated, edition of the picture I had drawn of the treatment accorded to the Indians in Natal, and it was not my words”.[19]

The language of Gandhi was simple and moderate.  He wrote this in his autobiography. “The language I used was more moderate than that of the two pamphlets which I have referred to before, as I knew that things heard of from a distance appear bigger than they are”.[19]  He believed that in a country like India the journalists must use only simple language.  Otherwise they could not read the mind of the country or reach the mind of the people.  He wrote, “A journalist’s peculiar function is to read the mind of the country and to give definite and fearless expression to that mind.[19]

Gandhi considered the sole aim of journalism as service to the country and to the people.  Money motive was alien to his principles. “The sole aim of journalism should be service,” he advised.[19]  To him, everything in life is an experiment.  He was experimenting journalism through his publications – Navajivan, Young India, Indian Opinion and Harijan.

Today we hear that journalists and newspaper owners accept money and gifts for publishing news.  Gandhi was strongly against this money- making business approach.  He wrote, “I am definitely of opinion that a public worker should accept no costly gifts.”[19] He opined that all good action will lead us to good goals. “It is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit in the end.  Let us forget the past and think of the task before us”.[19]  He believed in this while saying that all good means will led us to good ends.  The purity of means is more important than the ultimate goal.

Article – 1.  Gandhiji’s Uniqueness

          Mahatma Gandhi transcended the bounds of race, country or religion and became the prophetic voice of the twentieth century.  The depth of his insight, the sweep of his vision, the purity of his character, the steadfastness of his devotion to ideals, his titanic heroism and utter trust in the higher attributes of the spirit were unique.  As Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru rightly remarked, “The light that has illuminated this country for these many years will illuminate this country for many more years; and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country, and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts.”[19]

Gandhi followed the twin stars of Truth and Non- Violence all along the path of his most difficult and eventful life. He acted according to principles, not expediency.  Gandhi worked ceaselessly for the realization of what the sociologists call ‘Common Human’ values, for the triumph of the common human way of life.  He did not believe imposing his values or way of life upon others; by the same token, he resisted unto death the attempts of others to impose upon his or his people their values and way of life.  Gandhi, the Saint of Sabarmati was one of the greatest spiritual forces of all times.  His dharmic approach and such a way of living brings man near unto God.

Modern methods of transportation and communication have spanned the oceans, linked countries together, and made it easy for man to travel from one part of the world to another.  Gandhi visualized such a world far ahead.  He put forward a way of life commensurate with this change.  This was another uniqueness found in this great man. Gandhiji admired every thing in Indian cultural heritage.  He believed that every thing what a man need is in this ancient land.

Gandhiji said, “My life is my message.”  His life was an experiment with truth.  Before this experiment he believed that ‘God is Truth”.  After the experiment he realized that “Truth is God”.  Gandhi’s life of 89 years, his writings of about 110 volumes and above one lakh printed pages are the story of this great experiment.  In his writings of Hind Swaraj Gandhi revealed his vision as conversation between the reader and editor.  His journalistic skill is extra ordinary.

Now I will try to trace the course of Gandhiji’s career as a journalist.  In 1903, in South Africa, Gandhi started a weekly newspaper, Indian Opinion (16 pages tabloid), issued every Saturday in four languages.  Three years later Gandhi had to confine it to two languages for want of competent editors. He himself edited the paper in these two languages and issued the paper punctually until he left South Africa in 1914.

From India Gandhi continued supporting ‘Indian Opinion’ all his life by providing regular editorial material and moral and financial support. In 1919 Gandhi started two weeklies in India, Young India and Navajivan and issued them regularly all his life except for short intervals durations his press was under government siege. In 1933 Gandhi added a third weekly. ‘Harijan’ (which means the ‘Children of God’) and ran it all his life except when the press was ceased.

More than 75% of the content in Gandhij’s papers came from his own pen.  It is estimated that during his life time Gandhi wrote more than 10 million words.  That translates into 500 words every day for 50 years.  What a unique writer he was!  And almost all of his writings were related to personal improvement and social and political reform.  In short, we can easily say that the single factor that helped Gandhi the most in earning the title of ‘Mahatma’ and the leadership of the masses was his dedication of running the weekly newspapers for nearly 40 years of his life.

It is singularly amazing to note that nearly 400 biographies of Gandhi have been written in various languages.  Hundreds of books were written about him by various scholars and writers.  He was called Mahatma (an extra ordinary great soul) by every one.  Newspapers also helped Gandhi in becoming an extra ordinary human being.  We can not recognize him fully. A person like him was not fully understandable to ordinary men like us.  There was only one absolute Gandhian – that was Gandhi, though he said that he was an erring follower of Gandhism.

(i)      How Gandhi used Newspapers for his Political Career?

Gandhi used newspapers to educate himself and his followers.  Newspapers served him as a powerful ally in his struggle for the removal of racial discrimination.  They are a powerful weapon for him to social change and political struggle.  Political and social reforms led by Gandhi got ample coverage both in his publications and in other newspapers.

As Michael Hodges, Executive Director, Texas Press Association remarked, ‘Gandhi could enter into the minds of millions as a great journalist and political leader.  It is the time of newspaper operations and political activities are becoming methods of money making.  Gandhi never thought in that line.” [19]

A journalist like Gandhi is quite unique in history.  We can not find another journalist like him before or after him in the history of humanity.  Now the media have degraded themselves into a business activity.  The sensational approach to each news has tarnish its image greatly.  Gandhi never followed the sensational approach in his writings or in his publications.  His only commitment was to truth.  He believed that journalists must have clear vision.  To him, good truthful work must be rewarded in the end.  “It is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit in the end.” – He wrote in his Autobiography.[19]

In ‘Hind Swaraj’ we find Gandhi first announcing his own life mission.  We can say that Hind Swaraj is his political manifesto.  “His mission is nothing other than showing the way for the moral regeneration of Indians and the political emancipation of India.”[19]  In wider sense the motto of Gandhi’s journalistic experiments is also same.  He always insisted for dharma.  ‘Even when I have used politics I really tried to offer a glimpse of dharma.  What is dharmic will be suitable for the welfare of others.’ [19]

His dharmic concepts are also fit for life in modern world.  Gandhi redefined the scope of dharma to include notions of citizenship, equality, liberty, fraternity and mutual assistance.

Today’s world concentrates on profit, power and capital.  But Gandhi redefined stands alone as the North Star in the purity of his journalistic career.  His journalistic skills, aesthetics, symbolic representations and sense of ethics helped him in his political career.  The language of Gandhi was very powerful.  For example his slogans like, ‘Do or Die’ , ‘Quit India’  .. etc. attracted millions of people.  When Gandhi was in London, he came into contact with a lot of western literature as well as with people interested in Indian religious traditions.  This influence reflected in his journalistic writing.

The sterling qualities were compassion, fearlessness, respect for human rights and love for liberty.  Truth and nonviolence are the foundations of whole Gandhian Philosophy.  Gandhi exhorted to one of his friends while traveling on board a ship named S.S. Pilwana. It was; ‘be true’.  This was indeed his message to the world.  Today in the field of journalism the brightness of truth is fading.  So the relevance of Gandhian approach is increasing.

Article 2.  Basic Principles of Gandhian Philosophy

          Once Gandhiji said to Dr. Radhakrishnan that ‘truth and non violence is my religion’.  “I am being led to my religion through Truth and Non-violence ie, love in the broadest sense.”[19]  Every action in his life was supported by moral force. When any one has any doubt about the moral aspect of his act he can easily solve it by asking himself, how far his act helps the poor.  “I will give you a talisman. When even you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, try the following experiment: Recall the face of the poorest and the most helpless man whom you may have seen and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.  Will he be able to gain anything by it?… Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”[19]

Gandhiji believed that life without service is fraud.  To him, religion was a means to serve others without any restriction.  “If he served one, the spirit actuating him to render that service was that he served the one individual as part not only of India  or one religion but the whole of humanity.”[19]  Thus for Gandhi religion was to serve others without any restriction.

Truth, Nonviolence, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha are basic principles of Gandhian Philosophy.  Satyagraha is associated with contemporary India, and gives Indian leaders a moral platform and a way of playing a role in global politics that is potentially quite positive.  Gandhi knew that violence begets violence. So he always stood for nonviolent approach in life.  The sanctions that Gandhi would rely upon were the sanctions of non violent resistance or of soul force.

Rely upon the inner light, arrive at a judgement, and abide by it fearless of the consequences – such was the emerging pattern of Gandhi’s life.  He was always wrestling with the problems that confronted him and finding tentative answers and acting upon them.  Life was conceived by Mahatma Gandhi as a field for experimentation; the purpose of the experiment on life was conceived by him to be the attainment of Truth.  The methods to be used in this experiment upon life for the purpose of attaining Truth were those of the inner light, of conscience, of the still small voice within. It was Gandhi’s conception that the truth or falsity in a situation had to be decided in the light of one’s own conscience, not on the basis of accepted authority whether secular or sacred. Once the inner light led him to believe something to be right, Gandhi felt he was under obligation to carryout the dictates of his conscience regardless of the consequences.  Throughout his life these principles have been vividly illustrated indeed, not just in word.

(i)      Truth

Gandhi dedicated his life to the wider purpose of discovering truth or satya.  He tried to achieve this by learning from his own mistakes and conducting experiments on himself.  He named his autobiography ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’.

Gandhi once stated that the most important battle to fight was against his own demons- fears, and insecurities.  Gandhi summarised his beliefs when he said, ‘God is Truth’.  He would later change this statement to ‘Truth is God’.  Thus, Satya (Truth) in Gandhi’s Philosophy is ‘God’.  He repeatedly said that Truth was to him God, and God was Truth.[19]  He was a man who gave supreme importance to God in his life.  He wrote, “I may  live without air and water but not without God.”[19]

Gandhi gave primary importance to Truth in his Ashram vows.  Gandhi was convinced that if any one observed the vow of Truth, he would be able to keep all the rules of correct living without effort.  The word Satya or Truth must be understood in a much wider sense. “There should be Truth in thought, Truth in speech, and Truth in action.”[19] In the wider sense a good follower of Truth must have the fullest control over all the senses in thought, word and deed.  He said, “Truth is like a vast tree which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it.” [19]

Gandhiji believed that, every truth is self acting and possesses inherent strength.  The tools for the search of truth are simple ones.  But the practice of Truth is not so.  That is why Gandhiji said, ‘The path of Truth is as narrow as it is straight.  Even so is that of ahimsa.[19] A seeker of Truth must be simpler than sand or soil, he wrote in his Autobiography.[19] Every thing in this world will perish; but truth will live for ever.  It is the power of Truth. Truth is strong as metals and soft as flowers at the same time. (ibid, P. 149)  We saw that Truth is like a vast tree which yields more and more fruits the more you nurture it.  Gandhi had the opinion that Truth is superior to man’s wisdom.  Truth is the sovereign principle, which includes numerous other principles.

Gandhiji’s concept of truth has two faces – absolute and relative.  He said, we are fearing truth, because we fear the consequences of truth.  In the context of journalism, Gandhiji’s views on truth is highly relevant today.  He said, the editor has to be patient and seek truth only.  “Fugitives cannot be free.  If you want to be free you must take freedom and you must stand for freedom.  If you cling to wealth, you cannot be loyal to truth” – Gandhiji observed.  Today the journalists are not ready to correct their own errors.  Gandhi said, that the errors must not be disclosed; they must be call and corrected.  Gandhi gave the various practical applications of these principles.  At the same time Gandhi remarked that ‘a man of truth must also be a man of care.’[19] “The deeper the search in the mine of truth, the richer the discovery of the gems buried there, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.” – Gandhiji gave another implication of truth.[19] To him, the experiment in truth has no failure.  Such an experiment leads to a quicker discovery of truth, and God always protects the honest experiments.  A devotee of Truth always hold himself open to correction, and whenever he discovers himself to be wrong, he must confess it at all costs and atone for it.  Truth is a million times more intense than that of the sun we daily see with our eyes.

Truth was the first and the last love of Gandhi who had an unshakable faith in the aphorism, “Truth alone prevails.” “Truth is the first thing to be sought for and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you.[19] The propagation of truth can be done by actually living it and loss through books.  Life truly lived is more than books.  Words and good intentions are not enough. Gandhi clearly stated: “I call myself a seeker of truly, a speaker of truth and a Satyagrahi.  I will not therefore deliberately give support to those resorting to injustice.”[19]

Gandhi remarked, “In my opinion the Sanskrit text ‘satyam bruyat, priyam bruyat, Na bruyat Satyamapriyam’ means that one should speak the truth in gentle language.  One had better not speak it, if one cannot do so in a gentle way; meaning thereby that there is no truth in a man who cannot control his tongue.”[19]  He again advised, ‘whatever you do, be true to yourselves and to the world.  Hide not your thoughts.  If it is shameful to reveal them, it is more shameful to think them’.[19]

We know that, Gandhi considered journalism as service.  To him every journalist must be a public servant, in the Gandhian sense a true Satyagrahi.  He remarked, “With Satya combined with Ahimsa, you can bring the world to your feet.  Satyagraha in its essence is nothing but the introduction of truth and gentleness in the political, i.e., The national Life.[19] A Satyagrahi bids goodbye to fear.  He is therefore, never afraid of trusting the opponent.  Even if the opponent plays him false, twenty times, the Satyagrahi is ready to trust him the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed.” [19]

Today most of the journalists and newspaper houses are under the murky shadows of untruth and even bribery.  The above words of Mahatma Gandhi convinces us the importance of truth in life.  His contribution to numerous spheres of life is so great.  Ordinary persons cannot even recognise these.  Gandhiji was an extremely open minded seeker of truth.  At times even great men are reluctant to appear as they are before the society.  But Gandhiji was a clear exception to this, for his life was an open book and he had nothing to hide from others.

(ii)     Non-violence

Gandhiji believed that Non-violence is the law of our species as violence is the law of the brute.  The spirit lies dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical might.  Non-violence is the road to Truth.

The tradition of ahimsa was further developed in the two epics of India: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. For Gandhi these epics, though probably some of the figures they deal with one historical, are allegories which describe the duel that goes on within man between the forces of light and darkness. Gandhi has also clearly affirmed that he derived his belief in nonviolence from the Gita.[19]  According to Gandhi, the Gita teaches the doctrine of ahimsa.  The Sermon on the Mount gives the same law in wonderful language.[19]

The principle of ahimsa is the same for all but everyone applies it in his or her own way.  But this is not relativism because nonviolence is a universal law acting under all circumstances.  nonviolence is based on soul-force.  While brute-force is based on egotism, soul-force is based on love, trust and humility.  Ahimsa is not a denial of power as positive influence or healthy moral persuasion, but only for power in its violent forms.  Soul-energy is expressed in man’s capacity for constructive action and creative power for achieving justice and perfection.  One who acquires soul-force becomes capable of challenging and disobeying unjust laws in a completely nonviolent way.  This means of defence is only truth-force.  Gandhi wrote, “Nonviolence is an active force of the highest order.  It is soul-force or the power of Godhead within us.”[19]

Pure motives can never justify impure or violent action. By using violence to subjugate one another we are using violence against our own souls.[19] Nonviolence is a negative word, means it is an effort to abandon the violence that is inevitable in life.  Gandhi insisted on the necessity of nonviolence by saying repeatedly, for we are all tarred with the same brush, of children of one and the same Creator and as such the divine powers within us are infinite.[19]  “If we believe that mankind has steadily progressed towards ahimsa, it follows that it has to progress towards it still further.  Nothing in this world is static, everything is kinetic.  If there is no progression, then there is inevitable retrogression.”[19]  Gandhiji believed that nonviolence propagated by him is applicable worldwide. “The basic principle on which the practice on nonviolence rests is that what holds good in respect of oneself equally applied to the whole universe.  All mankind in essence are alike.  What is therefore possible for everybody.”[19]  Nonviolent approach is the urgent need of our times.  Gandhiji believed that nonviolent action is applicable in all fields of life.  “I have been practising with scientific precision nonviolence and its possibilities for an unbroken period of over fifty years. I have applied it in every walk of life, domestic, institutional, economic and political.”[19] The novelty of Gandhi’s doctrine lies in the fact that he has shown the world, that this great virtue can be applied for the solution of the day-to-day problems of the common man. In the words of Mr. K. Santhanam: “It was the unique contribution of Gandhiji to have elaborated the idea of nonviolence in all its implications and applied it to solve domestic, social, economic and political problems.” [19]

Ahimsa is the attribute of the soul, and therefore to be practiced by everybody in all the affairs of life.  Ahimsa and Truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to disentangle and separate them. “Ahimsa was preached to man when he was in full vigour of life and able to look his adversaries straight in the face.”[19]  The votary of soul force, the soldier of nonviolence, must by will power and inner compulsion, rigidly discipline himself – his body mind and heart – and by constant practice learn to remain nonviolent in thought, word, and deed, even under the severest provocation.  He must learn to engage in right action, right as prescribed by the sense of duty and to be detached as to the fruits of his action.

(iii)    Satyagraha

Satyagraha is a relentless search for truth and a determination to reach truth. Satyagraha is utter self-effacement, greatest humiliation, greatest patience and brightest faith.  It is its own reward.[19] Gandhiji said, “A Satyagrahi must believe in truth and nonviolence as his creed and therefore, have faith in the inherent goodness of human nature which he expects to evoke by his truth and love expressed through his suffering.  In Satyagraha there is no place for fraud or falsehood or any kind of untruth.  Satyagraha is a process of educating public opinion, such that it occurs all the elements of society and in the end makes itself irresistible.  Violence interrupts the process and prolongs the real revolution of the whole social structure.

The conditions necessary for the success of Satyagraha are      (1)       The Satyagrahi should not love any hatred in his heart against the opponent. (2) The issue must be true and substantial.  (3) The Satyagrahi must be prepared to suffer till the end of his cause.

In Gandhian philosophy, means and ends are convertible terms. The two are inseparable and should be equally pure. For Gandhi, life is an organic whole and cannot therefore be divided into different water tight compartments. It is one of the main characteristics of Gandhian approach.  Gandhi’s philosophy has a strong, brightly defined thread in the fibre of India’s cultural history.

Satyagraha is gentle, it never wounds.  It must not be the result of anger or malice. It is never fussy, never impatient, never vociferous.  It is the direct opposite of compulsion. It was conceived as a complete substitute for violence.[19]  Gandhiji believed that Satya combined with Ahimsa, we can bring the world to our feet. Satyagraha in its essence is nothing but the introduction of truth and gentleness in the political, i.e., the national life. “A Satyagrahi bids good-bye to fear. He is, therefore, never afraid of trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays him false twenty times, the Satyagrahi is ready to trust him the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of his creed.[19]  According to Rev. Jack C. Winslow: “With no hatred to the foreigner, but only love and good will towards him, he (Gandhi) was led, nevertheless, by the very principle of his faith, to an uncompromising aggression to the foreign yoke.”[19]

The technique of Satyagraha is considered to be the most potent contribution of Mahatma Gandhi to India and to the world. In the words of R.R. Diwakar, “Satyagraha is a total and integral way of life based on truth and nonviolence.”[19]  Passive resistance is the weapon of the weak, while Satyagraha can be practiced only by the bravest who have the courage of dying if necessary, without killing.  “The aim of passive resistance is to embarrass the opponent into submission, but Satyagraha aims to wean him from error by love and patient suffering.”[19] A Satyagrahi should be an exemplary citizen in serving society.  “A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of the society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so.  It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of the society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular laws are good and just and which unjust and iniquitous.”[19] Before undertaking Satyagraha one should try all other means. Since Satyagraha is one of the most powerful methods of direct action, a Satyagrahi exhausts all other means before he resorts to Satyagraha. He will, therefore, constantly and continually approach the constituted authority, he will appeal to public opinion, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody who wants to listen to him, and only after he has exhausted all these avenues will be resort to Satyagraha.[19] For this conscientisation process newspapers are a good tool. Gandhi used both his publications and other popular newspapers for opinion creation. The spread of news is very important even today.

To Gandhi, the eagerness and readiness for compromise is an integral part of Satyagraha, because a Satyagrahi should believe in the inherent goodness of human nature and also in the spiritual kinship with the adversary. A Satyagrahi must always be ready to compromise. In this world men see truth only in fragments and that also from different perspectives. This also shows the necessity of compromise.   “I am essentially a man of compromise, because I am never sure that I am right.”[19] It is breach of Satyagraha to wish ill to an opponent or to say a harsh word to him or of him with the intention of harming him. “Often the evil thought or evil word may in terms of Satyagraha, be more dangerous than actual violence used in the heat of the moment and perhaps repented and forgotten the next moment.”[19] Gandhi insisted that the publication of articles not contemplating or instigating to violence in spite of prohibitory orders is defensive civil disobedience.

(iv)    Sarvodaya

Sarvodaya, the word literally means, ‘the upliftment of all.’ According to Joan V. Bondurant, Gandhian notions can be divided into three: They are Gandhian objectives (Swaraj, Sarvodaya, etc.), Gandhian Principles (nonviolence, adherence to truth and dignity of labour) and Gandhian means. (Satyagraha, Bhoodan, ie., land gift).[19] Here we deal with Sarvodaya, a Gandhian objective.

Gandhiji believed that if an individual cannot gain spiritually when those who surround him suffer.  He believed in the essential unity of man and all that live.  “Therefore I believe that if one man gains spiritually, the whole world gains with him and if one man falls, the whole world falls to that extent.”[19]  Gandhi gave more importance to the service of man.  To him, serve man is serving God.  Man’s ultimate aim is the realisation of God and all his activities, social, political, religious have to be guided by the ultimate aim of the vision of God.  The immediate service of all human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavour simply because the only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it.  This can only be done by service of all.  Man is a part and parcel of the whole and he can not find Him apart from the rest of humanity.

Gandhi got the idea of Sarvodaya from John Ruskin’s book ‘Unto This Last.’ That book marked the turning point in his life. He studied the lesson that we must do even unto this last as we would have the world do by us.  All must have equal opportunity.  Given the opportunity, every human being has the same possibility for spiritual growth.  Gandhi translated the book ‘Unto This Last’ to Gujarati renaming it ‘Sarvodaya.’

Gandhi drew from it three lessons: (1) That the good of the individual is contained in the good of all. (2)      That a lawyer’s work has the same value as the barber’s in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work. (3) That the life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living.[19] The first of these Gandhi had known earlier.  The second he had dimly realized.  The third was new to him.  This book made it clear that the second and third were implied in the first.

The principle of Sarvodaya inspired Gandhi to develop his ideas about equality and universal brotherhood.  Speaking to the Ministers of Industries on July 3, 1946, Gandhi said, “I read Ruskins  ‘Unto This Last during a train journey to Durban. I saw clearly that if mankind was to progress and to realize the ideal of equality and brotherhood, it must adapt and act on the principle of ‘Unto This Last’. It must take along with it even the dumb, the halt ‘and the lame’.[19]      For Gandhi, the only way to love God and to attain salvation was to love one’s neighbour.  And since the aim of human life is salvation, each and every person is obliged to love his neighbour.  “Man’s Ultimate aim is the realization of God, and all his activities, whether social, political or religious, have to be guided by the ultimate aim of the vision of God. The immediate service of all human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavour simply because the only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it.  This can only be done by service of all.”[19]  In short, it is Gandhi’s belief that the only way to love God is to love one’s neighbour by following the doctrine of Sarvodaya.  Then to follow the path of action, or love one’s neighbour through a life of selfless service, is the only means of attaining Salvation or ‘Moksha’.  And since the ultimate goal of human life is salvation, all are obliged to lead a life of service.  By fulfilling the obligation of accepting bread-labour and leading a  life of Yajna, or rather of loving one’s neighbour.

A rotary of Sarvodaya cannot subscribe to the Utilitarian  formula of the greatest good of the greatest number.  He will instead strive for the greatest good of all.  In this ideal social order all are to be equal members by sharing in work and rest.  The strong protect the weak and everybody contributes to the general welfare and social justice.  Sarvodaya implies that everybody would regard all as equals to one self and would know how to earn an honest living by the sweat of one’s brow.

Article 3.  Role of Mahatma Gandhi in Indian Journalism

Mahatma Gandhi’s ascendancy in Indian politics and his assumption of the leadership in the  National struggle acted as elixir to Indian journalism.  After his successful political and social experiment in South Africa, Gandhi returned to India in 1915 and plunged into the Indian freedom movement.  He was not new to journalism.  In South Africa he had published a newspaper called ‘Indian  Opinion’ to bring into lime-light the sad  the plight of the Indians there.

The deportation of B.G. Horniman and the closing of theBombay Chronicle made it necessary to found a suitable newspaper to project the cause of the freedom struggle.  It was at that time Indulal Yagnik, an associate of Gandhi entrusted his monthly ‘Navajivana Ana Satya’ (new life and thought) to Gandhi.  Its name was abbreviated and it was converted into a weekly.  On September 7, 1919 a periodical hit the newsstands of India.  It was a 16 page journal in Gujarati, published from Ahmmadabad with neither a good name plate nor a design. It was priced one anna.  It never carried any advertisement, it never succumbed to pressures: In set in motion a process that made a difference in Indian language journalism and also became the standard bearer of a new ideology in fighting colonial rule.

Gandhi took over the ‘Young India’ in 1919 from Jamnadas Dwarakadas of Bombay.  Navjivan and Young India served as Gandhi’s main instruments to communicate his thoughts, actions and plans to the people.  He described the objects of a newspaper in these words – “One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; the third is fearlessly to expouse popular defects.”

Although the Mahatma wielded a facile pen in English he preferred to write in his mother tongue Gujarati.  His autobiography, History of the Satyagraha in South Africa, Experiences in Yarwada Jail, Anasakti Yoga etc were first serialised in Gujarati in the Navajivan. It was also instrumental in publishing many articles by the leading figures of the freedom movement.

Between 1920 and 1946 Gandhi organized three major campaigns against the foreign governments. (1) Civil disobedience movement (2) Boycott of the Simon Commission and (3) Salt Satyagraha.  The biggest, grandest and the most non-violent among them was the salt satyagraha. It was in that struggle that the nationalist press played a memorable role, which perhaps is unique in the history of any freedom movement.

The circulation of Navajivan shot up from 600 to 6000 by one month.  Within six months the weekly could be printed in its own press-Navajivan Mudranalaya.  In 1922 Gandhi was sentenced to six years imprisonment for his writings against the British Government in Navajivan and Young India.  The government confiscated the press and the paper wet underground.  It was published again in 1931, but it could continue only till January 1933.  The political situation in India become worse with the launching of the civil disobedience movement in 1930.  The government retaliated by enacting many repressing measures including the Indian Press (emergency powers) Act.  Under the provision of the Act, the government ganged several nationalist newspapers by punishing with fine and imprisonment of the journalists.  With the failure of the second round table conference the British government adopted the policy of ‘divide and rule’.  It succeeded in creating disunity and hatred among the Hindus and the Muslims and even among the sub-castes in the Hindu society.  In several native states the Princes, Maharajas and Navabs developed an antipathy towards the freedom movement and the National leaders.

It was during that period of this crisis that Gandhi thought of starting another English weekly which could be circulated throughout India.  G.D. Birla  agreed to sponsor the paper.  Thus the first issue of the Harijan appeared on February 11, 1933 under the editorship of R.V Shastri.  The paper very soon became popular and self-supporting.  Response given to the Harijan by the public prompted Gandhi to start its various language editions.  The Hindi edition was named ‘Harijan Bandhu’ to which he gave extra attention considering the vast readership.  Articles published in the Harijan mostly came from Gandhi’s versatile pen.  He had a clear and simple style, direct and free from all flourishes.  Mahadev Desai, K.G. Mashruwala, Jawaharlal Nehru, R.R. Diwakar, C. Rajagopal Achari, Kaka Kalekar and such other eminent freedom fighters regularly contributed to ‘Harijan.’

‘Harijan’ was mainly intended to promote Gandhi’s campaign against untouchability and temple entry.  For the untouchables whom he called Harijan’s, the children of God it was a crusader for social justice.  It became the biggest news source for the newspaper and agencies in these days.  Every week Gandhi had something important to say and what he wrote become front page stories.  The Harijan was issued every Friday with news articles, notices, provincial gottings and translated articles.  The annual subscription was Rs.4/- which also helped to build up a good circulation.  As a protest amongst the Communal Award which provided for the formation of separate communal electorates for Muslims and Harijans for the election to state legislatures, the Harijan was stopped in 1940.  It re-appeared in 1946 and continued to serve till 1949.  Today the three journals are part of the history of the freedom movement. Navajivan had been rejuvenated as a publishing house under the Navajivan trust, which holds the copy right of all the woks of Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhiji’s approach to anything is wholistic.  Even in the field of journalism, he did not give up his ideals and ideas. i.e., his experiments in life.  Gandhiji remarked, “I cannot claim complete success for any experiment.  Even medical men make no such claim for their experiments.  My object is only to show that he who would go in for novel experiments must begin with himself.  That leads to a quicker discovery of truth, and God always protect the honest experimenter”.[19]

Gandhi’s attention and activities embraced several spheres of life.  Journalism was one among them. “Most men who have possessed one-track minds; they have one aim, and spend their energies in obtaining it.  Gandhi’s aims were various”.[19]   He was a man of political and social action, inspired by a religious interpretation of human existence.  He wrote, “To see the universal and all- pervading spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love and the meanest of creation as one self.  And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life”.[19]

As a great political personality Gandhi used the columns of major dailies in his time.  He wrote several articles in ‘Madras Standard’ and in ‘The Hindu’ Journalists like G. Subramanian,
G. Parameswaran Pillai, Sonders, etc., helped him very much.  He expressed his ideas in the columns of ‘Statesman’, ‘English man’ etc.  Gandhi wrote these things vividly in his Autobiography.[19]

(i)      Gandhiji’s Entry to Journalism

The British government in India had not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but also had enacted laws aimed at the exploitation of the masses thereby running India economically, politically, culturally and spiritually.  Gandhi girt his loins to resist this policy of the colonialists.  By the Rowlatt Act, the Executive got the right and power to restrict the residence of individuals, to arrest and imprison suspects, without trial, to prevent people from engaging themselves in journalism, distributing leaflets, holding meetings, etc.  Gandhi considered it as “unjust, subversive of the principle of liberty and justice and destructive of the elementary rights of individuals”.[19]    Gandhi fought against the suppression of expression.  Gandhi wrote about this wherever possible.  But his journalistic approach was based on nonviolence.  There was no hatred in his writings against the Britishers.  This social aspect of non violence in journalism is Gandhi’s unique contribution.  “The credit of putting the concept of non violence on the map of collective action must go to Mahatma Gandhi.[19] Gandhi showed an alternative journalistic approach to Indian people.  He wrote, “I am confident that God has made me the instrument of showing the better way.” [19]

One would be simply amazed at the voluminous extent of his workings. Gandhi was a man who was not in the habit of reading newspapers in his younger days.  When he was in England, he read the ‘Daily news’, ‘The Daily Telegraph’, The Palmal Gazette’ etc regularly.  This also helped him to develop his extra ordinary journalistic skill.  As a journalist, Gandhi could teach the media world many valuable lessons in mass communication. An effective communicator, fearless and eloquent with his words, he reached out to millions of people and convinced them of the justness of his cause.  He was the most effective mass medium of the 20th century.  His journalism belongs to an era when there was neither television nor internet.  Such was the power of his ‘soul communication’ that whatever he said and wrote reached the farthest corners of the country within days and to the entire world thereon.

(ii)     Gandhiji’s Journalistic Approach

We had seen in the previous chapters that Gandhiji’s journalistic approach was unique and extraordinary.  He was sincere and honest and practiced what he preached or wrote. For example, in  September 1924 Gandhi started a fast for the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity.  Gandhiji utilized the entire space of one full issue of his weekly for advocating the communal harmony.  We cannot easily believe it today when most newspapers try to fan the fire of sectarianism particularly in time of crises with a view to boost their circulation. But Gandhi never did so.  His sole concern was communal harmony, in Gandhian terms ‘Sarvadharma Samabhava.’

Gandhi had realistic view about the situation in a newspaper desk.  He wrote about it in his autobiography: A newsroom is a place of hard work.  The editors are fighting against time.  Each visitor in that office believes that the editor is a big power.  But the power of the editor is limited in the surroundings of the office.[19]

Gandhiji wrote several letters to newspapers when he was in England.  The papers like ‘Englishman’ published them with ample importance. The editors like Mr. Sonders are friends of Gandhi.  This also helped him wrote and publish the letters to the editor.  He admit this in his Autobiography.[19]

What Gandhi wrote was fully true to his knowledge and belief.  He believed that there is no other God than Truth. Realization of Truth is Ahimsa. “Truth is a million times more intense than that of the sum we daily see with our eyes.  In fact what I have caught is only the faintest glimmer of that mighty effulgence.  But this much I can say with assurance, as a result of all my experiments that a perfect vision of Truth can only follow a complete realization of Ahimsa.  To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself.  And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life.” [19]

Gandhi considered every walk of his life as a way to self-purification.  Identification with everything that lives is impossible without self-purification which is the observance of the law of Ahimsa. “Self purification therefore must mean purification in all the walks of life.  But the path of self-purification is hard and steep. To attain to perfect purity one has to become absolutely passion-free in thought, speech and action.” [19]

This experiences and experiments in life including that in the field of journalism gave him great joy.  For this, he reduced himself to zero.  He admits these things in the last words of his autobiography.  “There is nothing more potent than thought.  Deed follows word and word follows thought.  The word is the result of a mighty thought and pure the result is always mighty and pure.[19]  Journalism is a work based on thoughts and ideas.  Writing must be a result of deep thinking and developing ideas.  In that sense journalism is a result of pure intellectual work.

Gandhi’s journalistic approach was founded on moral principles.  To him, it was a dharmic fight.  He did not have a profit motive.  “Economics that hurt the moral wellbeing of an individual or a nation are immoral and therefore sinful.  Thus, the economics that permit one country to prey upon another are immoral.”[19]  Today journalism is becoming a business. There is an anonymous saying:  “The challenge today before the newspaper management is how to eliminate the editor in editorial matters.” Gandhi was fully against to advertisements.  Today, in Newspapers we can even see the advertisement of liquor.

Hind  Swaraj was written in the genre of dialogue: a dialogue between a newspaper Editor and a Reader.  It is significant that Gandhi chose for himself the role of a newspaper editor, in quite a new style – not that of a traditional figure, the guru.  His readers compressed a composite of ‘modern’ Indians including the expatriates he had met in London in 1906 and 1909.

While in South Africa, Gandhi Wrote two pamphlets, ‘An Apeal to every Briton in South Africa’ and ‘The Indian Franchise.’  These were against a government bill aimed at cutting short the rights of Indians. Gandhi counted on the support and sympathy of the good and just members of the European community too.  The fact that the London Times devoted eight leading articles to the Indian problems in South Africa showed the success of Gandhi as a publicist.  The Indian National Congress recorded its protest against the disfranchising bill units annual session in December 1894.  Gandhi prepared a huge petition with 10,000 signature covering almost the entire population of free Indians in Natal and sent it to Lord Ripon, the colonial Secretary in London.  Copies of the petition were printed and mailed to prominent political personalities and to the newspapers. The newspapers both in India and in Britain reported the case of the National Indians prominently.  This shows how Gandhi used the media for his causes.

We can see that Gandhi’s approach followed an all pervasive to the problems he had to confront. Journalism was no exception. In The Young India edition of October 22, 1925  he gave a list of seven social evils: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, politics without principle and worship without sacrifice.  People need to know these not merely through the intellect “but know them through the heart so as to avoid them.”[19]  Gandhi tried to convince the world of the ‘priority of ethics over technology, of the primacy of the person over things, of the superiority of the spirit over the matter.’  This ethical approach is the journalistic method of Gandhiji.

Article 4.  Objectives of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Experiments

Gandhiji used journals as well as newspapers for conscientisation process.  To inform and to educate are major roles of media.  For example Gandhi prepared the ‘Green Pamphlet’ and send to almost all newspapers in India.  It got wide publicity.  ‘The pioneer’ newspaper wrote editorial about the issue of the Indians in South Africa.  There are several such examples in Gandhi’s life.

We all know only partial truths.  To Gandhi the absolute Truth is God, Himself.  All his activities are experimentations.  He admit this in his autobiography.  If we nurture truth more, the reward will be greater.  Journalism in its real sense, is a search after truth.  Journalistic experiments of Mahatma Gandhi was a truthful and scientific approach to desirable intellectual activity.

During Gandhi’s major Satagrahas he sent reports to politicians and newspapers.  Some of such reports were not meant for publication.  There were strictly for their information.  Gandhi scrupulously followed this principle in the conduct of Satyagraha.  To him, Satygraha was also a social educating process.  Gandhiji lifted the Indian struggle for freedom from the plane of mere political fight and transformed it into an ethical conflict between right and might.  Real journalism is a crusade for right over unethical situations and mighty powers.

We had seen in the former article that the ultimate goal of all his activities was self realisation.  His journalistic activities are also not an excemption.  From his works and writings we will soon be convinced that the love of the poor and of the oppressed is deep in him.  The poorest of the poor (In his words, the ‘Daridra Narayanas’) is to be uplifted. This was the aim of his social, political, economic and journalstic activities.  As a Karma-yogi Gandhi utilised each and every second in his life for these goals.

Needless to say that today, the journalistic field is in utter competition.  Then we have to hear Gandhi’s words: “Not killing competition, but life-giving co-operation, is the law of the human being.  Ignoring the emotion is to forget that man has feelings.  Not the good of the few, not even good of the many, but it is the good of all that we are made to promote, if we are made in His own image”.[19]

Also Gandhi’s life was an open book.  He had the strength to magnify his errors as Himalayan.  His autobiography is proof of this.  No other journalist or writer can easily attain this height.  We all hide our errors.  Gandhiji’s image as a great champion of humanitarian journalism was over shadowed by other glittering aspects of his multifaceted personality.

(i)      Service

Gandhi’s major goal of journalistic experiments is service.  He himself admit  it by saying that the true function of journalism is to educate the public mind, not to stock it with wanted and unwanted impressions.[19]  Gandhi was not a professional journalist.  What he wrote is directly related to these thoughts.  His life was his message. “Man’s ultimate aim is the realisation of God and all his activities, social, political religious have to be guided by the ultimate aim of the vision of God.  The immediate service of all human beings becomes a necessary part of the endeavor, simply because the only way to find God is to see Him in His creation and be one with it.  This can only be done by service of all.  I am a part and parcel of the whole, and I cannot find Him apart from the rest of humanity”.[19] Gandhi considered the sole aim of journalism should be service.

Today, when there is wide spread concern over the growing influence of market forces on media , and regret over journalism being no longer a social service, Gandhiji’ views on values of journalism bring to bear on the profession of journalism the force of ethics and morality.  In this context he had said, ‘It is often observed that newspapers published any matter that they have, just to fill in space.  The reason is that most newspapers have their eyes on profit. There are newspapers in the west which are so full of trash that it will be a sin  even to touch them.  At times, they produce bitterness and strife even between different families and communities.  Thus, newspapers can not escape criticism merely because they serve the people.’  He also said, “The true function of journalism is to educate the public mind, not to stock it with wanted and unwanted impressions.”

Gandhi realised from his experience in the “Indian Opinion’ that the newspaper press is a great power, but just as an uncontrolled torrent of water submerges whole countryside’s and devastates crops, even so an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy.  If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control.  It can be profitable only when exercised from within.  (An Autobiography p.331)  The journalistic work of Mahatma Gandhi both in South Africa and in India is for service and for service only. Gandhi said, “My creed is service of God and therefore of humanity”.[19] While considering journalism as a means of service, Gandhi upheld the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech and expression even at the risk of his life.

 

(ii)     Press as a Tool for Sarvodaya (The Welfare of All)

Gandhi’s greatest contribution to social philosophy is his theory of Sarvodaya social order.  Gandhi knew that we were all the parts of the same absolute entity.  The concepts like ‘Sarva boothe Hitheradha’ and ‘Vasudhaiva Kudumabakom’ influenced Gandhi.  He consider the entire universe as his family.  Gandhi considered press as a tool for attaining Sarvodaya.  He was not believed in the ‘maximum welfare to the maximum number’.  He believed in the welfare of all.  Majoritarian concept in Economics is not attracted Gandhi, 99.99% is not equal to all. Because 0.01% is neglected. Nobody bother about them. Naturally they will ruin gradually.  This was against to Gandhi’s moral approach. Mahatma Gandhi insisted that while framing policies, the needs of the last and the least privileged man should also be taken into consideration.  He was also of the opinion that explaining to the people why a decision was taken is equally important if not more important than taking a decision.  Press is a medium for two-way communication between people and the government.

In his (Gandhi’s) writings and what is of much more significance, in his day-to-day life, he preached and practiced the principle that ultimate sanction of authority and of public policy rests in the respect for the dignity of the individual and his welfare.”[19] Gandhi’s concept of Sarvodaya is related to universalism.  His life and teachings have a universal appeal.  He believed in the essential unity of man and the underlying unity of all nations.  He did not make any distinctions between religions, nations or races. “We all tarred with the same brush.  We are members of the vast human family…. Humanity is not divided into compartments.  They may occupy one thousand rooms, but they are related to one another” – cited in the message of Mahatma Gandhi, complied and edited by U.S. Mohan Rao.[19]

Communal Harmony was another dream of Gandhi’s life for which he lived and dedicated his life.  He observes “If not during my life time, I know that after I had never ceased to yearn after  communal peace.”  He strongly advocated the view that the message of unity and brotherhood had to be communicated to a child from his very birth. Media has significant role in this.[19] Gandhi propagated Communal Unity (in his term ‘Sarvadharma Samabhava’) in his writing in Navajivan, Harijan and in Young India. Today also the news papers have significant role to propagating communal harmony. Unfortunately, today some Indian newspapers are trying to communal disharmony and quarrels. Their eye is only in circulation hike. When a story of a victimised person or a helpless man, appeared in a newspaper the social consciousness arise in favour of him. Helps from different parts followed to that person. This is the power of the media. In this way also a media man can help the helpless people and poor. In policy making the ‘Daridra Narayanas’ are being neglected. Then the media must fight against that. This is the lesson which Gandhiji taught us. Then only the atrocities will be diminished from the society.

(iii)    Social Transformation

Another major goal of Gandhiji’s Journalistic experiment is social transformation. He used constructive programmes for attaining the social transformation. He wrote, “…… My work of social reform was in no way less than or subordinate to political work. The fact is that when I saw that to a certain extent my social work would be impossible without the help of political work, I took to the latter and only to the extent that it helped the former. I must therefore confess that work of social reform or self purification of this nature is a hundred times dearer to me than what is called purely political work”.[19] In his ‘Young India’ Gandhiji wrote repeatedly against the Dowry system, which was a curse in India. In ‘Harijan’ (14-11-1936) he wrote against obscene advertisements. He suggested that the readers must inform their ill-feeling to the editor. After that if the daily continue the same way the reader must avoid that daily. This is an example of awakening process triggered off by Gandhiji.

Gandhi wrote: “the newspapers have become more important to the average man than the scriptures.”[19]  “In the East, as in the west, the newspapers are fast becoming the people’s Bible, Koran, the Zend Avesta and the Gita rolled into one.”[19]  Writing these lines Gandhi had the knowledge about the power of the media in social transformation. Today the media has a major role in society. It plays a significant role in every walk of life. Gandhi foresaw this long ago. He used his own publications and many other major newspapers for promoting social transformation.

(iv)    Opinion Creation

‘Nothing can succeed without public opinion’, remarked Abraham Lincoln, one of the great exponents of democracy. It was he who again defined democracy as the rule of the people, by the people and for the people. Connecting these two statements one can infer that the strength of democracy lays in the effectiveness of the freedom of expression, the two way communication and opinion creation. Today we all are bothered about public relations. The base of public relations is in opinion creation. Gandhiji believed: “Journalism has a distinct place in familiarising and expressing public opinion.”[19]

Creating opinion among the people is one of the main objectives of the media. Gandhi could develop desirable attitudes and opinions through the media among people for decades. He realized that the people believed in the newspapers to a large extent. He repeatedly said: “The newspapers today had almost replaced the Bible, the Koran, the Gita and other religious scriptures.”[19] This influence of the newspapers are sometimes overcoming all its limits. Gandhi warned about this also. “The newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of imdependent thinking”.[19]

Gandhiji’s Journals which he described as ‘views papers’ were organs of political and social movements and discussed with intensity and concentration, problems that demanded immediate action. As professor K. Swaminathan put in a but shall  in his talk in 1976 at the Nationalist Forum of Journalists held in New Delhi, “While the topics and their treatment in the three journals varied according to the historical contingency, these was nevertheless running through them all a common refrain, viz the insistence on truth and non-violence, on fairness to all and the public good, which provided the first principles, the firm universal frame work within which alone Gandhiji’s thinking and acting could function…. The regard for truth in the abstract issued in practice as severance for fact.”[19]

It will be pertinent to point out as to what Mahatma Gandhi considered to be the role of newspapers. He wrote: In my humble opinion, it is wrong to use a newspaper as a means of earning a living. These are certain spheres of work which are of such consequence and have such bearing on public welfare that to undertake them for earning one’s livelihood will defeat that primary aim behind them. When further a newspaper is treated as a means of making profits, the result is likely to be serious malpractices. It is not necessary to prove to those who have some experience of journalism that such malpractices do prevail on a large scale. He was of the opinion, ‘Newspapers are meant primarily to educate the people. They make the latter familiar with contemporary history.’

 

Article 5.   Satyagraha and Media

The Media have lived up to the expectations in some critical periods in history. The role of the media in the freedom struggle is a glorious example. The media have helped in creating feeling of nationality and a sense of purpose to the agitation. In those days the objectives of the media and those of the society were almost identical.

Gandhiji’s new weapon of satyagraha was a method of resistance which called for continuous public attention. During the Salt Satyagraha the need of public support was fully demonstrated.  The breath of salt satyagraha reached throughout the world. The reports of the American and British journalists about the police excesses on the one hand and the endurance of suffering incidental to  satyagraha on the other, gave the whole world a lively picture of the dramatic scene. Mr. Webb Miller of the New Freeman wrote: “During eighteen years of reporting…. I have never witnessed such harrowing scenes as at Dharasana. Sometimes the scenes were so painful that I have to turn away momentarily. One surprising feature was the discipline of the volunteers. It seemed they were thoroughly imbibed with Gandhi’s non-violent creed.[19] There are so many examples like this, Gandhi said, “Satyagraha is a relentless search for truth and a determination to search truth.”[19] Journalism is also a search for truth relentlessly. Again, “Satyagraha is a process of educating public opinion, Such that it covers all the elements of the society and in the end makes itself irresistible.”[19] One of the major role of media is educating people. Satyagraha is an attribute of the spirit within. Media should also arouse the real good feelings of the individual’s mind.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “My newspapers became for me a training ground in self-restraint and a means for studying human nature in all its shades and variation. Without the newspapers a movement like satyagraha could not have been possible.”[19] Gandhi served as Editor of Indian opinion for 12 years form 1903 to 1915. Gandhi often declared that journalism was not a profession or business for him, but an effective medium of communicating with the common people. For this reason he wrote more and more in the Indian languages and spoke to the masses directly. It is not therefore surprising that Indian Opinion was bi-lingual (English and Gujarati) right from the beginning. Later for sometime it had also Hindi and Tamil sections. Indian opinion more or less forced that South African provincial regimes to modify their repressive laws against Indians. Gandhi himself has confirmed this fact. He says of his ‘Indian opinion’ articles: ‘There was no padding, no essays given to the readers. I used to reason out for them their difficulties. I had no time to discuss theories. They had instructions as to what they were to do. I have no doubt that Indian Opinion had a vital part to play in moulding and guiding the satyagraha. (1-7-1940)

The two journals, ‘Young India’ and ‘Navajivan’ were used by Gandhiji to ventilate his views and to educate the public on satyagraha. In 1933 Gandhi started ‘Harijan’, ‘ Harijan Bandhu’, ‘Harijan sevak’ in English, Gujarati and Hindi respectively. These papers were the vehicles of his crusade against untouchables and poverty in rural areas. These papers published no advertisements even then they enjoyed wide circulation. His note of defiance and sacrifice gave a new stimulus to the evolution of press as a weapon of satyagraha. He always stressed the importance of newspapers in educating the people. He knew newspapers could become powerful medium for spreading ideas. To him, a good journalist’s duty is to teach people to brave, not to instill fear into them. The satyagrahi must also be a brave person. He criticised that the newspaper man has become a walking plague. This is because of the reason that some journalists instill fear in the society.

Gandhi published an unregistered weekly ‘Satyagraha’ In 1919, defying the Government orders. This one-sheet weekly was sold for one paisa. Gandhi’s journals were read even by his political opponents and by the British officials as well as the congress leaders because Gandhi used his journals for loud thinking. After Champaran the Mahatma took to journalism as his most potent weapon of satyagraha. Also his crusade for the repeal of the Press Act of 1910 was a unique piece of journalism. He was telling the rulers that it was in the best interests of the government to repeal the law. This we will discuss in detail latter.

Article 6.    Value Based Journalism

Gandhi was a journalist who gave primary importance to values. His journals deal with the evils of exploitation of the workers, the degradation of the peasants, the absence of the virtue of modernisation, and the rampant consumerism which is the characteristic of modern life. Gandhi criticised the modern western civilization. Gandhi was the doctor of modern civilization when it was considered as curable disease.

Blount’s pamphlet, “A Crusade (which was also the name of an organization he founded to counteract the ill effects of modern civilization) was summarized in ‘Indian Opinion’ in 1905. Its motto, ‘Simplicity, art, aspiration’ appealed to Gandhi greatly. It’s principles did so even more; the betterment of society begins with the betterment of the individual; county life is the best form of the good life; handicrafts and agriculture are conducive to human well-being; machinery is the ‘Devil’s instrument; politics can only seal, never initiate, social reform; life without work is guilt, while work without art is brutality: work is a form of liturgy, etc. Taylor’s fallacy of speed was also summarised in ‘Indian Opinion.’[19]  Divided into three short chapters- ‘Speed and population’, ‘Speed and Profit’ and ‘Speed and Pleasure’ – the book challenges the prevailing assumption that ‘faster is better’ these examples taught us that Gandhi’s approach was value based and ethical.

Today the dailies like, ‘New York Times’ saying about the need of ethical codes in journalism and put forward ethical codes for journalists. Gandhi realized this far before. Gandhi’s principles are helping newspapers for attaining newsroom integrity. It will avoid all kinds of errors. It ensures impartial  approaches. It envisages just and moral principles. The reporters must work with freedom, courage and impartiality.

It is an age of globalisation. The value erosion happened by globalisation make the society having many atrocities. The everlasting principles based on Indian culture was lost. Consumer culture prevails every where including in the media field. The value system is also changed. The good values must be replaced. For this, the guidelines put forward by Gandhiji will be helpful.

(i)      Editor with a Difference

Gandhiji was a journalist who spent a substantial portion of his time in politics. To quote Gandhi himself: “Politics are a part of our being; we ought to understand our national institutions…. So in our Ashram every child is taught to understand the political institutions of our country and to know how the country is vibrating with new emotions, with new aspirations, with new life.”[19] Before independence the Press was under the fetters of restrictive laws and enjoyed little freedom of expression. Gandhi wrote in his journals in such circumstances.  Freedom of expression and  press freedom which we now consider sacred were quite limited in those days. The situation in England was very different. The rights which the British people enjoyed in their country were denied to Indians in their own motherland. There was much discrimination in the field of freedom of expression.  However, Gandhi decided to swim against the tide.

In Free India the newspapers enjoyed full freedom which was limited only against irresponsible words and deeds. During the emergency period, this freedom was considerably curtailed. The freedom of the press that we enjoyed today is largely due to the big contribution that it made for the success of our struggle for independence. What makes Gandhi a journalist par excellence is that he was free from hatred and malice. Journals in the world appreciated this unique quality of Mahatma Gandhi. ‘News Chronicle’ wrote about him that, ‘Gandhi inspires the world with hope.’ The Times narrated his courage as rarest of the rare. Manchester Guardian called him as the saint among politicians. Washington Post described his political approach as ‘the wave of sanctity’.[19]

Gandhi’s views and approach were prophetic. He had foreseen problems like the scarcity of resources, the increase in population etc. He never wastes even a small piece of paper. He limited all his wants, even food. He used the one side of old envelops. He was against the production of anything which was not useful. This prophetic view is a good quality which a journalist needs. A good journalist is the representative of the common people in the society. So he has to express his prophetic approach and attitude for a better society. The theories enunciated by Gandhiji were theories to practice. He practiced all the theories he put forward. He was a theoretician and simultaneously was a practitioner. Whoever enjoys self-rule transforms himself or herself in some measure. Self-rule without self-transformation is not Gandhian. Gandhi himself said about it: “it is the experience everywhere in the world that an ounce of practice achieves more than a ton of preaching.”[19]

Gandhi was a crusader for human rights. We can see this in almost all his major writings. In all his activities, including journalistic work he upheld the ultimate purpose of human existence and pointed to the final goal of man in life. The respect and regard for every person is founded on the identity of human nature and man’s common vocation. The supreme consideration is man. Moralisation by incorporating the values of justice and truth into society and politics was based to the Gandhian journalistic approach and Indian philosophy.

The Mahatma could effect a cultural change which brought humanity a step forward towards non-violence and tranquility. It generated a fresh awareness of man’s innate spiritual orientation. It was a sort of interior renewal for many persons whose relationship with others became warm and pacific. They experienced in themselves a radiant internal serenity and strength which led to changes in all spheres of their life. A great transformation within and without was taking place. For the liberation that was necessary in various fields such as political, social, economic and journalistic, non-violence became central. This realization is the main contribution of Gandhi who was an editor with differences.

(ii)     Alternative Journalism

From the former articles we can easily understand that Gandhi had a peculiar way of writing, which has come to be termed alternative journalism. The path led by him was unique. His journalism was a journalism based on justice. In Gandhi’s opinion, the industrialisation on a mass scale will necessarily lead to passive or active exploitation of the villages as the problems of competition and marketing come in. Today, even newspapers are produced massively and marketed aggressively. Also today journalism is city centered. Gandhi always gave importance to the villages.

Gandhi’s alternative approach in journalism concentrated on the poorest of the poor in the society. He was a symbol of the poor men. For a hungry man, God appears in the form of bread – He wrote in ‘Young India’. (20.5.1926). He argued for the 30 cores of unemployed persons in the country. Gandhi was against all kinds of exploitation. His mighty pen was a sword against exploitation. He stands with human rights. He was against to all kinds of slavery.

Gandhi gave importance to gender equality. “The exploitation of women by men is violence.  Women had equal mental capacity having men. Her place in society must be high”. Gandhiji wrote.[19] In his opinion the social force and power of nonviolence is more to women. If nonviolence is the dharma of human race the future is of the women.[19] He was against child marriage. Through his publications he tried to encourage re-marriage of widows.

Gandhi’s approaches are more relevant today. Another journalism (Alternative journalism) is considered as a new branch in this profession all over the world now. But Gandhiji foreseen this. To his opinion, newspaper is a mirror  image of the society. He turned to alternative way not only because of the news value of that approach but also because of the justice behind that. Today, we are saying about the democratisation of the media. But Gandhi never gave importance only to the elite class. He gave importance to ordinary peasants, handicrafts men, women and children. Social importance is significant in alternative journalism. Gandhi’s approach was based on social significance of issues. He never gives news fragments as we give today in the journals. He considered every thing as a part of social setup and a process. He believed that all have the right to know. He tried to hear the unheard voices. It is the method of alternative journalism. Today, the unheard voices are increasing in the world. We can say that alternative journalism is the applied form of Gandhian values in journalistic field. Today alternative journalists, all over the world write features, news items, provides and diary notes in this method. But Gandhi wrote this in a simple language with graphic manner.

Today journalism is urban based. But alternative journalism has its focus on villages. Gandhi concentrated on pure editing, reporting and crafting. He was highly conscious and careful about each word he wrote. He asked intelligent questions in his mind before writing each sentence. That was interesting also. Unfortunately, we are not followed the methods of alternative Gandhian approach in journalism on large scale.

Article 7.   What Gandhi said:

In this article we will try to discuss about various aspects of journalism in the Gandhian way. Gandhiji said, “Journalism has become the art of intelligent anticipation of events”.[19]

Mahatma Gandhi, in a journalistic career spanning nearly four decades, edited four journals. None, including Harijan and Navajivan, could boast a circulation of more than a few thousand copies. But such was Gandhi’s grasp of the basics of mass communication that he ensured that his daily “Out pouring of heart and should” reached all. If one were to ask the question as to who came first- Gandhi – the freedom fighter or Gandhi the media crusader – the truth would be that Gandhi – the journalist pre-dated Gandhi the freedom fighter by at least 20 years. The burden of leading a nation towards freedom and the contingency of having to face trials followed by jail terms, did not stem the flow of writings from Gandhi’s pen. There was not a day when he was not writing on some issue or the other in Young India and Navajivan.

Gandhiji’s journals carried articles on a variety of subjects written by him and others ranging from the spinning wheel to the most important political problem of the day. But writings on one subject where conspicuous by their absence throughout viz. art and aesthetics. Even so, Gandhiji tried his hand on intellectual and aesthetic subjects as well. An extract of an article on ‘Indian art’ published in the issue of the Indian opinion dated Sept. 17, 1903. Years later in an interview to G. Ramachandran, Gandhiji admitted that “I do not speak or write about art because I am conscious of my own limitations. That consciousness is my only strength. My functions are different from the artists and I shall not go out of my way to assume his position. “Gandhiji even quipped during that interview that “Neither Jesus nor Mohammed wrote on art!”[19]

 (i)     About Poisonous Journalism

Gandhiji defined poisonous journalism as the journalism which was not helped to attain the goals of sarvodaya. It is dangerous to the health of the society. Anything morally wrong will never be practically correct. Gandhi wrote: “An itch for news is a variety of dissipation, debilitating to the mind and spirit, unless it is properly curbed”.[19]

In the news business media men help to provide the people with the information they need to frame then attitudes and to make, or at any rate to authorize or ratify, the decisions on which the well-being of the nation rests. Most of the journalists are in it because it seemed a pleasant way to make a living, or because we are unable to do anything else, or because of the promise of excitement. Gandhiji insisted  that we must bother about the consequences of what we do for the nation and for the world.[19]

Gandhi gave guidelines against poisonous journalism through Harijan. He was also bothered about such advertisements. On 2nd January 1937 an editor of the ‘Nispraha’ paper wrote in Harijan about Gadhi’s stand. He read about obscence advertisements which Gandhi wrote about in Harijan. He translated it and published in ‘Nispraha’. He sent one such advertisements to Gandhi. Gandhi found it was a false advertisement meant for misguide the villagers. He warned about such journalism. Gandhi knew that poisonous journalism is the enemy of developmental journalism. His impartiality, truthfulness and credibility are extra ordinary.

To those who said that Gandhiji’s ideas are not practical in a largely self driven world, the Mahatma replied that “these has never been an experiment on a large scale in nonviolence”.[19]  This is true in case of Gandhi’s journalistic experiments. No one tried to follow Gandhism in large scale. Gandhi’s journalistic experiments are also need good followers.  No one tried to follow it in large scale. But Gandhi’s work in the field of journalism had a strong influence not only on every newspaper in India but also on the entire literary world of every language in India.

(ii)     Duty of Journalists

Gandhi expatiated on the duties and the function of journalists in his speech at ‘The Hindu’ office in Madras on 22nd March, 1925 after unveiling the portrait of the late Mr. Kasthuriranga Iyengar: “I never thought that Mr. Kasturiranga Iyengar was an out and out reformer but he had cultivated journalism for the sake of journalism as it appeared to him. These are three functional duties for journalists. (1) Accurately reflect the opinion. (2) Do not change the editorial policies in which way the wind is flowing. (3) But whenever we saw the country as a whole is changing we must recognize it”. He added, “A journalists peculiar function is to read the mind of the country and to give definite and fearless expression to that mind.”

Gandhi extolled the approach of the Hindu and late Iyengar. He said, The Hindu’s news columns satisfied the ambition of a most voracious reader. Journalists must know the art of clipping. It is an art as I can tell you from my own experience. He said that the journalists must give news comprehensively that an average reader gets information from a single newspaper. World news must be displayed in an attractive manner in newspapers and magazines.

Journalists must be bold and express differences in a decent way. They must remember that the country’s interests are more  important than those of individuals. Journalism has a distinct place in creating and propagating public opinion. “We are yee cultivating or we have yet to cultivate the best of journalism among us we have many wonderfully able journalists to copy. Whatever little I know of journalism, I realize that there is still a great deal to be done. In our march towards our goal, I know that journalism will play a most important part in shaping the destinies of our country.”[19]

Gandhi practiced all the above things which he preached. This makes him unique among journalists. His words appeared in the  ‘Young India’ of August 1927 are epitome of his philosophy: it is better to allow our lives to speak for us than our words.

(ii)     Purity of Journalism

Journalism had social reforming capacity. This capacity attracted Gandhiji. So he insisted that journalism must be pure. It must be based on certain ideals. Gandhi said, if we have an ideal approach we don’t need any idol. Idolatry is permissible in Hinduism when it sub serves an ideal. It becomes a sinful fetish when the idol itself becomes an ideal. The pen is our foundry and the hands of willing copyists, our printing machine.[19] But the handwritten newspaper is I admit is a heroic remedy meant for heroic times. If the government did not allow printing machine, this method is useful. The restoration of free speech, free association and free press is almost the whole swaraj. The Public press has been gagged, in short freedom with self respect has become impossible throughout the length and breadth of the land. [19]

Gandhi considered journalism as a noble profession as he put forward certain restrictions to the press. “We should rely on ourselves to expatiate on our grievances, but we must not forget that we have to do that under certain restrictions born of politeness and sobriety.[19] An editor could convey his thoughts to the readers without any deviation. Independent views of writers must be published. What is published is to be correct and advisable to read. “I have  my self been editor of newspapers for several years and can explain from personal experience the difficulties which the editor has to undergo in the true discharge of his duties. I am not disputing the fact that some restraint is necessary” [19]

Gandhi put forward to avoid the restrictions to the press. The journalists must be plain-speaking, honest and truth seeking persons. In this journey, they must fight for truth. Even if then, their bodies were taken away, the souls will become free.[19] Gandhi insisted on the depth of insights, power of personality, purity of character, steadfastness of devotion to ideals, titanic heroism and utter trust in higher attributes of the spirit of journalists. He said, we must act in accordance with principles, not expediency. He must stand for common human values and must led a human way of life. Gandhi, the journalist was a greatest spiritual force of all times. The experiments of Gandhi was based on Truth, to him God. So he always insisted on the purity of life. Journalism and journalistic experiments also are part of this purification process to him.

(ii)     Fearless Press

Gandhi believed that the press must be independent and fearless. He said, “One of the curses of India is often the sin of secrecy. The tendency of human nature is to hide dirt, we do not want to see or touch dirty things; we want to put them out of sight. The Pess Act is a symptom of the disease of cowardice. If we would boldly declare our intentions, the Pess Act will die of inanition. I notice, too that the most telling passages of my speech in Calcutta have been omitted by the press evidently for of the censor. I would for rather see a complete stoppage of a newspaper if the editor cannot, without fear of the consequence, freely express his sentiments or publish those which he approves”[19] Non Co-operation, while it gladly avails itself of the assistance that may be rendered by the press has to be, by its very nature, independent of the press. These can be no doubt that every thought we print is being printed on sufferance. As soon as its circulation takes effect, the Governemt, for the sake of its existence will try to prohibit it.” We must devise methods of circulating our ideas unless and until the whole press becomes fearless, defies consequences and publishes ideas, even when it is in disagreement with them just for the purpose of securing its freedom. If the government does not allow printing, then the news must be written by one and read loudly for all”.[19] Gandhi considered the Press Bill of the British government as reactionary.[19]

Liberty of speech means that it is unassailed even when the speech hurts; liberty of the press can be said to be truly respected only when the press can comment in the severest terms upon and even misrepresent matters, protection against misrepresentation or violence being secured not by an administrative gagging order, not by closing down the press but by punishing the real offender, leaving the press itself restricted. “The Lokamanya (Tilak) spoke more eloquently form the Mandalay for tress than through the columns of the printed Kesari. His influence was multiplied a thousand fold by his incarceration and his speech and his pen had acquired much greater power after he was discharged than before his imprisonment. By his death he is editing his paper without pen and speech through the sacred resolution of the people to realize his life’s dream”[19]

I (Gandhi) need hardly draw attention to the fact that in a subject country like India, the liberty of the press is double precious. And the editors responsibility if you owned British owned press, is very great at the present critical moment in the history of this country.”[19] Gandhi wrote, newspapers would have no value if their editors did not have the right to express their views freely. We want the removal of all restrictions imposed by the Government on newspapers: Should we then, tolerate people imposing restrictions by means of threats. We may try to change people’s views and their attitudes by love, by presentation and by example. Threats will not succeed. Every one, therefore, and specially a non-co-operator, should improve his language, purify his thoughts and make them gentler. How can anyone whose tongue is sanctified by uttering God’s name, in whose heart dwells God, have unworthy words on that tongue and unworthy thoughts in heart even for a moment. Any person who joins the army of non-co-operators with a foul tongue and an evil mind or heart though he may claim to be a friend, acts like an enemy.”[19]

Gandhi had a comprehensive concept of freedom. He fought for personal, moral and national freedom. Liberty is basic to man’s personality. It does not mean a licence.[19]  “I value individual freedom and social restraint.”[19] Gandhi had an integral approach to freedom just as he saw life as a whole. Man has to realize freedom at all  levels which is a process of wherent growth. “Social, economic, political and moral freedom are intimately interlocked and interdependent. There must be all-sided development”[19] So Gandhi always stand for a fearless press “Main freedom to behave according to the dictates of conscience constitutes the most powerful expression of his inalienable nobility.”[19] On the level of truth and information, freedom suffers when the social communication media are misused or the objectivity of news and facts is veiled or distorted. “The press is called the Fourth Estate. It is definitely a power but to misuse that power is criminal.”[19] Journalists should have the freedom and responsibility to uphold truth. For that they must be fearless.

(v)      Obscene Literature

“No country and no language is free from obscene literature. As long as there are self-indulging and immoral people in the world, obscene literature will continue to be produced and read. But when such literature is disseminated through newspapers of good standing, and under the guises of art or service, it is truly horrible”. – Gandhi remarked.[19]) Gandhi got one such copy of a statement from Marwari Community. He seeks the source of it and found that money is the end of it. He wrote about this in Hindi Navajivan on 6th March 1930. It was on a Marati weekly called ‘Chant’. He responded to it that no man who has any sense or who has the good of society at heart would ever publish such things. To publish such things in the name of reform is unnecessary and harmful.

Gandhi saw the readership of obscene literature in two types: the educated debauchees who wish to satisfy their lust by any means, and innocent men who, though so far free from the ways of vice, are so impressionable that they may be corrupted. For such people obscene literature is fatal.

Gandhi directed that journalists and editors of newspapers must refrain from publishing obscene literature. It should never buy or read such literature. We should popularise the books and newspapers and boycott the obscene ones. Even today Gandhi’s words are relevant because some newspapers use such sub-standard language. They must be avoided.

Gandhi observed: “The proprietors and editors of some newspapers seemed to be engaged in robbery. They make it their profession to rob people’s money by inventing all sorts of pretexts, by making unfounded allegations against innocent persons and threatening them.”[19] Some accept bribes and try to justify dishonest practices and in this manner dupe the innocent public.” A friend from Calcatta informed Gandhi of one such instance. A Journal published an article alleging the immoral practices at Govind Bhavan and is malinging many families and among the simple folk of the Marwari community. Having concocted indecent incidents which never took place, they implicate certain family people in them. The friend who has sent Gandhi this filthy paper wants him to write something about such journals so that they may mend their ways. Gandhi’s response was as follows: “I have no such hopes for my article. It is therefore not addressed to them but to those families who are being blackmailed by such journals.”

In this chapter we had seen Gandhi’s experiments in journalism.  In the next chapter we will try to look into Gandhi’s contributions as a journalist, critically.

 

 

References

[19]     Larie Collins and Dominic Lapire, Freedom at Midnight – Malayalam Translation, D.C. Books, Kottayam, 1998 p.64

[19]       ibid, 333

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemedabad, 1927 p. 484

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Mudranalaya, Ahemedabad, 1927 p. 193

[19]       ibid, p.193

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.26, p.369, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahemedabad

[19]       Mind of Mahatma Gandhi – Ed. Prabhu & Rao, 3rd Edn. 1968, p.479

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahemedabad, 1927, p.254

[19]       Ibid. 300

[19]       Haridas T. Muzumdar, Mahatma Gandhi – A Prophetic Voice, Navjajivan Publishing House Ahemedabad, 1963, p.4

[19]       ibid, p.2

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House Ahmedabad, 1927, p.300

[19]       Ed. Antony J. Parel, ‘Gandhi – Hind Swaraj and other writings’, Cambridge texts in Modern Politics, Cambridge University Press 1997, p.14

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.32, p.489. Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad

[19]       S. Radhakrishanan and J.H. Muirhead (eds) Contemporary Indian Philosophy, p.21

[19]       R.K. Prabhu, This was Bapu, Ahmedabad, 1954, p.48

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, Delhi Diary, Ahmedabad, 1948, P.139

[19]       D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol. I,  p. 10

[19]       Harijan, May 14, 1938, p.109

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, ‘From Yervada Mandir’ p. 2

[19]       Ed. Prabhu and Rao , ‘Mind of Mahatma Gandhi’, 3rd Edn. 1968. p. 43

[19]       Truth is God, Ed. R.K. Prabhu, 1958, p. 36

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of my Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1997, p. 18

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1927, p. 17

 

[19]       ibid, p. 250

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 25, p. 255

[19]       ibid, Vol. 69, p. 213

[19]       Young India, 17 Sept. 1925

[19]       Harijan, 24 April 1937).

[19]       Young India, 10th March, 1920

[19]       (M.K. Gandhi, ‘Satyagraha in South Africa’, Navajivan Press, Ahmedabad, 1928, P. 246)

[19]       Cf. Mahatma, Vo. 4, p. 138

[19]       Young India, Dec. 22, 1927, p. 426

[19]       Harijan, 12 Nov. 1938

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 25, p. 279, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad

[19]       Autobiography, p. 206

[19]       Harijan, August 11, 1940,  p. 245

[19]       Harijan, Oct. 22, 1938, p. 298

[19]       Harijan, July 6, 1940, p. 185

[19]       K. Santhanam, ‘Gospel of Gandhi’, Bombay, 1967, p.p. 10-11

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. IV, p. 476

[19]       Young India, 26-2-1925, p. 73

[19]       Harijan, 15th April 1933

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, p. 246

[19]       S. Radhakrishnan, (ed.), Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections, p. 316

[19]       R.R. Diwakar, ‘Gandhi, The Spiritual Seeker’, p. 74

[19]       Harijan, March 25, 1939, p. 64

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments  with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1927, p. 357

[19]       Young India, Oct. 20, 1927, p. 354

[19]       Louis Fischer, ‘A Week with Gandhi, London, 1947, p. 102

[19]       Harijan, April 15, 1933, p. 8

[19]       J.V. Bondurant, ‘Conquest of Violence’, Bombay, 1959, p. 6

[19]       Young India, 4-12-1924, p. 398

[19]       Autobiography, p. 224

[19]       D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol VII, p.180

[19]       Harijan, August 29, 1936, p.226

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmmedabad, 1927, p.357

[19]       R. Payne, ‘The Life and Death of Mahatma Gandhi,’ London, 1969, pp.
14-15)

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.39, p.401

[19]       An Autobiography p. 183, 184

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 15, p. 118

[19]       B. G. Gokhale, Indian Through the Ages, Bombay, 1961, p.162 also S. Radhakrishnan, ‘Mahatma Gandhi,’ pp 124, 236

[19]       Harijan, Sept 29, 1940, p. 302

[19]       An Autobiography p. 184

[19]       An Autobiography,  p.239

[19]       An Autobiography p. 583

[19]       ibid, p.583

[19]       Harijan, 24 April, 1937

[19]       Young India 13, Oct 1921

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi,  Vol. 28, p. 365

[19]       G.A Natesan, Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, Madras, 4th edition, 1933, p.350

[19]       Mahatma, D.G. Tendulkar Vol. 7, 2nd edition, 1960, Publications division, p.209

[19]       Harijan 29 August, 1936

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol.25, p.260

[19]       K.P. Saxsena, ‘Gandhi and the International Concern with Human Rights’ (Essays), p. 154

[19]       Message of Mahatma Gandhi, New Delhi: Publication Division, Ministry of information and broad casting, 1968. p. 127

[19]       J.C. Jain, ‘Gandhi the Forgotten Mahatma’, p.155

[19]       Young India, August 6, 1931, p.203

[19]       ‘Mahatma,’ D.G.Tendulkar, Vol.3, 2nd Edn. Publication Division, p.375

[19]       ibid Vol.7: p. 209

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi. Vol.26, p.370, Navajivan Publishing House Ahmedabad

[19]       Mahatma, D.G.Tendulkar, Vol.7, 2nd Edn. p.314, 1960, Publications Division.

[19]       ibid, Vol.7, p.116

[19]       ‘Relevance of Gandhi and other Essays,’ Gandhigram Trust

[19]       Quoted by R.R. Diwakar, Satyagraha in Action, p.90

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.26, p. 273

[19]       Mahatma, D.G. Tendulkar, Vol 7, 2nd Edn. 1960, Publications Division,
p. 49

[19]       V. Sundaram, ‘Mahatma Gandhi as a Journalist’

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 10, p .379

[19]       C.F. Andrews, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s Ideas’ p .110

[19]       Larrie Collins and Dominic Lapire, ‘Freedom at Midnight’, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Limited, New Delhi, 1976, p .429

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.20, p. 98

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, ‘Women and Social Justice,’ Navajivan Publishing House, Ahamadabad,  p .4-5

[19]       ibid, p. 156

[19]       Mahatma D.G. Tendulkar, Vol.7, 2nd Edn. 1960, p.209, Publications Division

[19]       Young India 13-11-1924 and 20-11-1924

[19]       Mahatma, D.G. Tendulkar, Vol.7. 2nd Edn, 1960, Publications Division, p.135

[19]       Ed. Robert Schuunuhl, The responsibilities of Journalism, East West Press Pvt. Ltd. NewDelhi, 1989, p .19

[19]       Harijan, 25th Aug. 1940

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.26, p.385

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.22, p. 176

[19]       ibid, vol.55

[19]       Bombay Secret Abstracts, 1916,  p.506

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.13, p283

[19]       ibid, p.283

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.19, p. 9

[19]       Young India, 22-12-1920

[19]       on Press Bill, Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 48, p.13)

[19]       ibid, Vol.22, p. 176-178

[19]       AICC file No.1362, 1941 Courtesy: Nehru Memorial Museum and Library

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 20, p. 393. Freedom of the Press)

[19]       ibid, vol. 9, p.451

[19]       Collected woks of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. LXIX, P.258

[19]       Collected Woks of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.  LXIX, p. 258

[19]       “Juslitai et Pax”, The Church and Human rights,  p. .32

[19]       Selected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol VI, p. 315

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 43, p. 20

[19]       Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.36, p. 417

CHAPTER – V

GANDHI AS A JOURNALIST

Apart from being a national leader and social reformer, Mahatma Gandhi was a great communicator. More than any one else, he recognized that communication is the most effective tool to shape opinion and mobilise popular support. He was successful because he had a latent skill in communication that eventually surfaced in South Africa where he had gone initially to set up practice as a lawyer. The practice of communication started by him in South Africa gave him the clue to rally millions of his country men when he returned to India

Gandhiji was an ardent fighter for the cause of the freedom of the press also. He often said, “Freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego. The liberty of the press is dear privilege, apart from the advisability or otherwise of civil disobedience”. Gandhi brought in many new elements which brought us new vitality   in the field of journalism. On account of his wide interest, his genius for simplification, his eagerness to reach the largest number of people, and the novel nature of his activities, there emerged a new awakening in journalism.[19] Gandhiji undoubtedly introduced a new and noble element in the field of journalism which may justly be termed the human approach. Besides he was well aware of the   educational mission of the press.

To whom should the journalist be loyal? To the propriety, one’s own self or the particular class he belongs to? This has often been debated resulting in different conclusions but to Gandhiji, readers were the prime consideration. A journalist may be a patron, a party member, or a faithful employee, but his loyalty according to him should primarily be to his readers. The public has the right to know the truth. It must be informed objectively as to what is happening. If the paper loses confidence of its readers, it forfeits all that is worth in journalism.

Within a few years of his return to India, after more than twenty years of active leadership in South Africa, Gandhiji once again turned to journalism, which would help him to propagate his ideas and programmes and be congenial to the style of his growing political leadership. ‘Young India’ had already been founded and functioning as an organ of the Home Rule League of Bombay, soon after the inauguration of the Rowlatt Satyagraha campaign in 1919. Gandhiji took over its editorship. He stripped the journal of all advertising and filled its pages his message to the congress party.

In both the weeklies ‘The Young India’ and ‘The Navajivan,’ his trademark was a straightforward, disciplined style. In simple yet forceful language, he propagated and elaborated his percepts of truth, nonviolence and satyagraha. Gandhi’s achievement was all the greater in that he earned remarkable popularity for his papers which relentlessly argued for the need of bringing about an all-pervasive social change. The most remarkable thing about him was that he carefully kept away from the cheap methods of sensationalism and misrepresentation. He had learned to write with telling effect. Rival Gujarati papers declined in popularity and the circulation of the Navajivan more than doubled within a year of his assuming its editorship.

There was no journal which could stand comparison with the Harijan. It was not a newspaper in the usual sense, for the Harijan made more news than it reported. Its inception in 1933, the impact of its suspension in 1940, the drama of its complete suppression in 1942, and its resumption of publication in 1946 were all events of historical importance. The Harijan was not a party organ, yet it became the most influential journal involved in the movement for Indian independence. The Harijan drew more international contributors than any other Indian publication of that time.

Gandhi often wrote in newspapers when he was in South Africa. This helped him to create public opinion. This was his first step in journalism. His experiences and experiments are unequal in the history. In less than a few months stay in South Africa, Gandhi realized the need to become a journalist to fight for the rights of the Indian community. And he brought the highest qualities the profession could boast of courage in the face of adversity, unswerving adherence to truth, pursuit of public causes, and objectivity in presentation.

The objectives of satyagraha are, in a way, the objectives of journalism also. Inform the truth, guide the public, analyse things… etc., are the aim of Gandhiji’s journalistic experiments. He influenced so many people through his writings. Mahatma had understood the need for stopping the exploitation and corruption be it economic, political, social, religious, moral and what not and fought tooth and nail against these evils. Thus Gandhiji became a great champion and promoter of social justice. His journalistic experiments are based on service to the society. He is a man of prophetic vision who could envisage the shape of things to be in future years.

Gandhiji’s life and work in South Africa prepared and formed Gandhi for the greater battle in India. “…Had he begun in India he would have got tangled up in very complex problems such as India presents. His apprenticeship in trying out the possibilities of soul force was gained in a simpler situation. South Africa furnished the rehearsal for the real dharma of India.”[19]  The most formative period of Gandhi’s life was in South Africa. In journalism also Gandhi had the formative period in South Africa through Indian Opinion.

Truth was the first and the last love of Gandhi who had an unshakable faith in its ultimate victory. Some of his aphoristic pronouncements were: “Truth alone prevails”, “Truth is the first thing to be sought for, and Beauty and Goodness will then be added unto you.”[19] The propagation of truth should be done by living up to it. Words and good intentions are not enough. Gandhi clearly stated: “I call myself a seeker of truth, a speaker of truth, and a satyagrahi, I will not therefore deliberately give support to those resorting to injustice.”[19] There is obviously the possibility of making mistakes and falling into error and this possibility befalls each and everyone without exception. Gandhi, the journalist had a vision geared to action, suited to the particular situations, and at the same time endowed with a universal dimension. “I can not give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my speech or writing.”[19]

Gandhi read almost all newspapers when he was in jail. He wrote answers to the questions of journalists and sent them to their offices. Gandhi communicated even to illiterate people. At that time 30 crores of Indians were illiterate. The media all over the world started quoting the words of Mahatma Gandhi.

Article 1.  Gandhiji’s Journals

(i)      Indian Opinion

Gandhi published his articles in English and in Gujarati in his Indian Opinion. In South Africa, he was a lawyer, a political activist, and above all, a journalist. Gandhi was quite well informed of what was going on in the Indian subcontinent. In the first chapter of Hind Swaraj, Gandhi stated the three objectives of the newspaper, the first of which  is to understand the popular feeling and to give expression to it; the second is  to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is  to expose popular misconceptions fearlessly.  To a certain extent, the people will has to be expressed; certain sentiments will need to be fostered and defects will have to be brought to light. The three functions mentioned here are also the functions that he had proposed for his newspaper, ‘Indian Opinion.’[19] “Although this journal supplied a real want, what may be termed a commercial demand had to be created. In other words, the paper had not only to find its matter, but its readers also” Gandhi added, “It (Indian Opinion) was to educate public opinion to remove causes for misunderstanding; to put before the Indians their own blemishes and to show them the path of duty while they insisted on securing their rights. We (the workers of Indian opinion) write impersonally and no one on the staff of this journal claims any glory over the matter. We therefore think it but right to take the public into our confidence.”[19] “The journal Indian Opinion is a great instrument of education. It is necessary for every Indian to look upon the journal as belonging to him, not as something mine”. The objects of the journal are threefold: first, to make our grievances known to the Government, to the whites here in South Africa and in England and to people in India; Secondly to tell our people of their own shortcomings and to exhort them to overcome these and, thirdly – and this is perhaps the principal objective to eliminate the rivalry between Hindus and Mohamedians and the caste distinctions  among Gujaratis, Tamilians and Bengalis as well as those practised elsewhere in India. All persons connected with the journal are such that they can earn their livelyhood by other means.”[19]  500 complimentary copies of the journal was published first.

In the beginning, The Indian opinion had its editions in Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and English. Gandhi wrote, “The Indians and the Europeans both knew that, though I was not avowedly the editor of ‘Indian Opinion’, I was virtually responsible for its conduct. It would not have mattered if the journal had never been started, but to stop it after it had once been launched would have been both a loss and a disgrace. So I kept on pouring out my money, until ultimately I was practically sinking all my savings in it. I remember a time when I had to remit £75 each month.” [19]

The journal became to him a training in self restraint, and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with his thoughts. “Satyagraha would probably have been impossible without Indian Opinion.” [19]

Gandhi viewed his journalistic attempts as an ‘ethical experiment’. He never considered it as a business even though he has frankly described the  difficulties faced by newspaper management in his autobiography.[19] But in this study, we are giving importance to the journalistic approach of Mahatma Gandhi; not the newspaper management techniques. We are trying to evaluate the contributions of Gandhi to the Journalistic field. He influenced millions of people through his writing.

Sjt. Madanjit and Magalal Gandhi helped the Mahatma in managing the ‘Indian Opinion’ Sjt. Madanjit was canvassing subscribers for the ‘Indian Opinion’. Gandhi, never considered whether there was profit or not Mr. West left the journal when he discovered that there was no profit. But Gandhi did not blame him. The idea of having an engine to work the press had not appealed to Gandhi. “I had thought that  hand-power would be more in keeping with an atmosphere where agricultural work was also to be done by hand.”[19]  But when the idea was not found feasible, an oil-engine was installed for the purpose. In the initial stages they had to burn midnight oil for bringing art each issue of the journal.

The publication started in 1904 fell in loss many times. Gandhi himself worked hard and compensate the loss of the weekly. Most of the articles in it are written by Gandhiji. Great men like Tolstoy, appreciated Gandhiji. The service, which Indian opinion done to the society was great. The publication was a mirror of Gandhiji’s life. Today we are hearing about the principles like, ‘media is the message’ and ‘media man is the message’. But Gandhi, the media man was the message behind his publications. He never wrote a word for the sake of false praising to others. He wrote things after deep study. He never exaggerated things. Gandhi wrote in his autobiography that the journal was helped for his own self control and self purification.

(a)      Origin and Development of  ‘Indian Opinion’

The first editor of ‘The Indian Opinion’ was Mr. Mansukhlal. But most of the work was done by Gandhiji himself. Gandhi himself wrote the editorial. It was published in four languages-Gujarati, Hindi, Tamil and English. Hindi and Tamil editions were nominal in circulation. So Gandhi stopped the publication of those two editions. On an average 75 sovereigns was the expense of publication. Gandhi gave the money without expecting anything in return.

Gandhi wrote in his autobiography: “Indeed the journal became for me a training in self restraint, and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts. The critic found very little to which he could object. In fact the tone of Indian Opinion compelled the critic to put a curb on his own pen. Satyagraha would probably have been impossible without ‘Indian Opinion’. The readers looked forward to it for a trustworthy account of the satyagraha compaign as also of the real condition of Indians in South Africa. For me it became a means for the study of human nature in all its casts and shades, as I always aimed at establishing an intimate and clean bond between the editor and the readers. I was in undated with letters containing the outpourings of my correspondent’s hearts. They were friendly, critical or bitter, according to the temper of the writer. It was a fine education for me to study, digest and answer all this correspondence.” [19]

The journal was an effective means of educating and consolidating the Indian community. The Indians all over the world were kept in touch with the course of events in South Africa through this weekly. It was a useful and potent weapon in the struggle of Indians in South Africa. Gandhi expressed through it his thoughts and ideas on all  subjects of interest to the Indians. ‘Indian Opinion’ carried some articles in Gujarati language. Through the Gujarati columns in particular, Gandhi tried to educate the Indians in South Africa in self-discipline, sanitation and good citizenship and to prepare them for satyagraha. He sought to inspire his readers by recounting the lives of great men and women.[19] For 10 years Gandhi poured out his thought and feeling on all the subjects of interest to the Indian community.[19]

A girl named Ms. Shlesin helped Gandhi very much in publishing ‘Indian Opinion’, especially when he was jailed. Her’s was a selfless service. She was sending the communications and doing all financial correspondence. Gandhi utilized the money getting from his cases for ‘Indian Opinion’. Mr. Madangit helped Gandhi by joining subscribers and collecting subscription. Gandhi charged the office and press of ‘Indian Opinion’ to phoenix settlement. He gave equal living wage to all. He insisted on that the journal published in the right day every week. The phoenix have almost a self sufficient atmosphere. Each one worked hand in hand for the success of the journal. The editor Mansukhlal Nazar controlled the paper from its Durban Branch.

The publication was an important tool for the political movement led by Gandhiji and the Natal Indian Congress to fight racial discrimination and win civil right for the Indian immigrant community in South Africa. Through the 19th century Indians were brought to South Africa as indentured labour by the authorities of the British Empire, which governed both South Africa and India. Along side various multi-ethnic communities, the Indian community suffered from significant political, economic and social discrimination, administered by the system of apartheid. In the aftermath of the Boer War, the government of General Smuts introduced significant restrictions on the civil rights of the Indian immigrant community, giving the police power to warrant-less search, seizures and arrests. All Indians were required to carry identification and registration cards at all times. Working as a lawyer in the Natal province, Gandhi organized the publication with the aim of educating European communities in South Africa about Indian needs and issues.

At Phoenix, the press workers were governed by a new work ethic- they would all have a share in the land, in the profits if there were any, they would grow crops to sustain themselves and they would work jointly to produce Indian Opinion. The newspaper’s editors included Hebert Kitchin, Henry Polak, Albert west, Manilal Gandhi, who was the paper’s longest serving editor (for 36 years) and Sushila Gndhi. All but one of its editors spent some time in jail.

(b)      Purpose of Indian Opinion

The Indian opinion began by adopting a very moderate tone, reiterating its faith in British law and seeking not to provoke the hostility of British officials. However, the Indian Opinion boldly highlighted the poor conditions under which indentured labourers worked. Editorials exposed the discrimination and harsh conditions prevalent in the agricultural estates where indentured Indians were employed. Cases of harsh treatment by employers were publicised and the astoundingly high rate of suicide amongst Indians was pointed out. A campaign to end the system was launched and editor Henry Polak, a friend of Gandhi’s, went to India to mobilise support. From 1906 onwards it became a vehicle for challenging state laws and urging defiance of these when these were clearly unjust. This tradition began during the satyagraha campaign between 1906 and 1913 by which Gandhi resisted the attempts of the colonialists to impose passes on Indians in the Transvaal. The paper played a decisive role on defeating the registration drive of the officials. Its pages paid tribute to local resisters and Brian Gabriel, one of Natal’s earliest Indian photographers, provided visual coverage.

The Indian opinion was a means of bringing news about Indians in the colonies before the public in India. The pages of Indian opinion provide a valuable historical record of the disabilities that Indians suffered under. It also provides an invaluable record of the political life of the Indian community. Gandhi’s experience with the publication and the political struggle in South Africa proved a major experience for him that helped him in his work for the Indian independence movement. In India he would publish Young India, Navajivan and Gujarat Samachar. The Indian Opinion continued to publish for many decades and played a significant role in the wider civil rights struggle of South Africa. But it also suffered from not being a commercial enterprise, but rather a publication committed to serving social causes. Gandhi was clear about the nature and content of his newspaper. It would not carry any advertisements nor try to make money. Instead, he sought subscribers who would give donations. Indian opinion became certainly a most useful and potent weapon in the struggle for the rights of Indians in South Africa. In South Africa his writing often made the white racists look ridiculous: The white barber refused to cut my black hair, extending his colour prejudice to not only non-Christian skin but non-Christian hair as well.

The paper was important for understanding Gandhi. Through it Gandhi was able to communicate not only with his colleagues but with the general public on the crusade he was leading on political, social and economic issues. The critics found very little to which they could object. In fact, the tone of ‘Indian Opinion’ compelled the critics to put a curb on his palm. From Gandhi’s writings overseas readers could form a time picture of the happenings in South Africa. Among the distinguished readers were Gokhale in India, Dadabhai Naoroji in England and Tolstoy in Russia. Gandhi worked hard for this weekly. He got two hundred journals per week in exchange of Indian Opinion, read each one of them carefully and reproduced such news as might benefit the readers of Indian Opinion.

Gandhi was a successful journalist but never intended to make a living from journalism. In his opinion the aim of journalism was service: “Journalism should never be prostituted for selfish ends or for the sake of carrying a livelihood. And whatever happens to the editors or the journal, it should express views of the country irrespective of consequences. They will have to strike a different line of policy if they wanted to penetrate into the hearts of the masses.”

When he took charge of the Indian Opinion, it was a losing concern and had a small circulation of four hundred copies. For some months Gandhi had to contribute Rs.1200 per month to keep it going. Altogether he incurred a personal loss of Rs. 26000/-.  In spite of this heavy loss, he later decided to keep out advertisements in order to devote more space for propagating his ideas. He knew that he would not be able to serve truth and remain independent if he accepted advertisements. He never cared to increase the sale of his journals through improper means, nor to compete with other newspapers.

The journal did not project any sensational topics. He untiringly wrote on constructive work, satyagraha, non-violence, diet, nature-cure, Hindu-Muslim unity, untouchables, spinning khadi, swadeshi, village industries and prohibition. He stressed the need of re-orientation of education and food habits and was a severe critic of national defects. Indian opinion more or less forced South African provincial regimes to modify their repressive laws against Indians. One-day Gandhi got a call from Bihar where the Indigo farmers of Champaran were subjected to the same kind of indignity and exploitation as the indentured labourers in South Africa. He promptly went there and investigated the issues, and produced a report that would be the envy of the greatest investigative journalist anywhere in the world.

Gandhi’s book, ‘A Guide to Health’ was first published in Indian Opinion. This was a book appreciated both in the East and West. Here Gandhi succeeded in the conscientisation process which was a duty of the media. In the year 1909, ‘Hind Swaraj’ was written in Gujarati between 13 and 22 November on board the ‘Kildonan Castle’, on Gandhi’s return trip from England to South Africa; it was published in two instalments in the Gujarati section of ‘Indian Opinion’ (11 and 19 December) Gandhi also translated some books which he read and published partially for the benefit of the readers of Indian Opinion.[19]

(ii)     Young India

‘Young India’ (1919-1932) was an English weekly journal published from Bombay under Gandhi’s supervision. It was started from Bombay on 7th May 1919. On 8th October 1919 Gandhi became the editor of its Ahmedabad edition. Messrs. Umar Sobani and Shankar lala Banker were controlling ‘Young India’ in the first phase. Gandhi had already learned from his experience in the ‘Indian Opinion’ that, a journal needed a press of its own “Moreover the press laws in force in India at that time were such that, “if I wanted to express my views untrammeled, the existing printing presses, which were naturally run for business, would have hesitated to publish them. The need for setting up a press of our own, therefore, became all the more imperative, and since this could be conveniently done only at Ahmedabad, Young India too had to be taken there.” [19]

Through the journal Gandhi commenced to the best of his ability the work of educating the reading public in Satyagraha. It had wide circulation which at one time reached  the neighbourhood of forty thousand. He set his face against taking advertisements in his journals from the very first. “Incidentally, these journals helped me also to some extent to remain at peace with myself for, whilst immediate support to civil disobedience was out of the question; they enabled me freely to ventilate my views and to put heart into the people. Thus I feel that both the journals rendered good service to the people in this hour of trial, and did their humble bit towards lightening the tyranny of the martial law.” [19]

The power of satyagraha was imbibed in whatever Gandhi wrote. In 1930, Gandhi declared the decision for salt satyagraha in Young India. Monday and Wednesday are the days of Gandhi’s vow of silence. In these days he wrote articles for Young India and Navajivan. Gandhi revealed his thoughts through these publications even in the disobedience. The hardship of martial law was also simplified due to these publications.

Gandhi had been frequently writing on various aspects of journalism. To him editorial independence, adherence to truth and self-restraint were the three over-riding considerations for journalism. In his message for the editor of the newspaper, ‘The Independence’ on 30th January 1919 he wrote: “In wishing you success in your new enterprise, I would like to say how I hope your writings would be worthy of the title you have chooses for your journal; and may I further hope that to a robust of independence you will add an equal measure of self-restraint and the strictest adherence to truth? Too often in our journals as in others do we get fiction instead of fact and declamation in place of sober reasoning. You would make ‘The Independence’ a power in the land and a means of education for the people by avoiding the errors I have drawn attention to.” This was the same line of thinking of Gandhi’s publications also.

In India Gandhi published his journals for about 30 years, without the aid of any advertisement. He suggested that for each province, there should be only one advertising medium, printing decent descriptions of things useful to the people. After accepting the editorship of Young India, he was keen on conducting a Gujarati paper because a vernacular paper was a felt want. Editing a newspaper in English was no joy to him. He brought out Navajivan, the Hindi and Gujarati version of Young India, and contributed many articles regularly. He was proud to say that many readers of his publications were the farmers and workers who really made India.

The price of ‘Young India’ was one anna per copy. He sustained no loss in running it. But when he was jailed the circulation dropped down to 3,000. Under heavy pressure of work he had to write a lot and had to work late at night or in the early hours of the morning. He often wrote on a running train. Some of his famous statements or editorials bore the mark “on the train”. When his right hand got tired, he wrote with the left. Curiously enough, his left hand writing was more legible. Even while convalescing he wrote three to four articles every week.

Gandhi was first jailed in India for his bold articles printed in Young India. He never submitted to any gagging order issued by the Government. When he was not allowed to express his deepest thoughts, he stopped writing. He was confident that he could any day persuade his readers to copy his editorials for him and circulate the news. He knew his paper could be suppressed but not its message so long as he lived. By not caring for the aid of printing room and compositor’s tick, the hand written paper, he assured, could be a heroic remedy for heroic times.

Issue after issue of the ‘Young India’ bore good testimony to the  Mahatma’s journalistic genius which  manifested in his appeals to the government to do what was ‘just and righteous’.  His writings were not meant to evoke hatred and contempt. Gandhi believed in healthy journalism and avoided malicious techniques of communication. He wrote, “My writing come not be poisonous. They must be free from anger, for it is my special conviction that we cannot truly attain our goal by promoting ill-will against the rulers or anyone else. My writing cannot be free from hatred towards any individual because it is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth.

Gandhi, fully devoted his time for propagating Khadi during the three years from 1924. ‘Young India’ greatly helped him in this mission.[19] In 1926 Viceroy Lord Reeding returned to England and Lord Irvin came to India. This was not published in ‘Young India’. Gandhi published a letter on whether it is good to kill mad dogs which was one and a half page lengthy. This continued in following four issues. The selection of items in the magazine was remarkable. There was a regular column named ‘letter to the editor’. This gives enough space to the readers to respond on various issues. They got the views of Gandhi as reply to these letters which were published in the weekly. Gandhi continued his writing even when he was ill. Major decisions of Gandhi were revealed through his weeklies.

Several times the Britishers raided the office of ‘Young India’. But, Gandhi remained fearless. The authorities could not find any document which was illegal or antinational, Gandhi considered that fearlessness and freedom of expression are the base of value based journalism. ‘Gandhi’s Autobiography’, ‘Satyagraha in South Africa’, ‘From Yervada Mandir’ and ‘Anasakthiyoga’ are first published in his weeklies. This also helped increase the circulation of the publications.

(iii)    Navajivan

Navajivan (1919 – 1913) was a Gujarati weekly edited by Gandhiji and published from Ahmmedabad. It had occasional biweekly issues. Navajivan was first published on 7thSeptember, 1919. It was the time of protest against Rawlatt Act. So it was not easy to get permission for a new weekly. So Gandhi bought the ‘Navajivan Anasatya’ weekly of Indulal Yajnik. It had only 600 copies of circulation before Gandhiji became the editor. It is increased to 2500 copies after Gandhi’s arrival. The second issue got 5000 copies and the third got 6000 copies. It was published from a small press. When circulation increased, a large press becomes a necessity. Other printing units are not ready to print the weekly from their press because of they feared the authorities. So Gandhi and Anasuya Behn collected
Rs. 6000 and started a new press. This was today’s ‘Navajivan Mudranalaya.’

Many asked Gandhi Why he hesitated to start a daily in English language. He replied: “I want to communicate with the farmers and weavers, who lived in huts in remote villages. The message of satyagraha must reach them. For that, the language must be understandable to them.”[19] Navajivan like all other publications of Gandhi was a part of our struggle for freedom.

In 1930, the government abolished the printing of Navajivan. In 1931 it was re-started. But the Government intervened again. In 1933, Gandhi put an end to both the papers. After that Navajivan Trust and Navajivan Publishing house started. The copy-right of all of the works of Mahatma is to this publishing house. “Navajivan was read in the farthest corners of India, sometimes in groups. Gandhi’s articles were reproduced in almost all the newspapers in India.” [19]

The name ‘Navajivan’ meant the renewal of the country and the magazine. The renewal of Gujarati language and literature also was the aim of Gandhiji. It brings a new energy to the life of the people also. Politics was the most important topic in the weekly. Gandhi tried to increase the moral standard and courage of the readers continuously. He tried to purify them. To make them complete human beings was his primary aim. Gandhi knew that it is inevitable for ‘Sampoorana Swaraj’ which was proclaimed by him at Godhra on November 1917. In the first issue itself Gandhi wrote about this ‘dharmic renewal’ : “I practiced  some dharmic values in my life after continuous and hard effort. It is my duty to inform others, this happiness and culture.”[19] Gandhi tried to inspire all the Indians through his weekly. Gandhi never tried to write these things as a philosopher in volume of books. He gave his message in simple language for common people in the village. He took his own approach to social and political problems. Thus he conveyed to common people in a simple way. Gandhi put forward some conditions for the publication of Navajivan. He informed it through the weekly to the readers. This is based on the Gandhian journalistic values. The conditions are (1) The weekly take any advertisement for money. (2) It will not continue in loss (3) Navajivan is not a business. To increase the circulation, the standard of the weekly does not decrease. [19]

When Navajivan got a subscription of 9000, Gandhi wrote: “I don’t want to make it 2000. If it becomes 50000, I will not show extreme happiness.”[19]  There was not enough printing facility for Navajivan in that time. The number of persons worked in the weekly are also low in number. But in content wise the magazine was in frontline. Gandhi said to the readers that they should not evaluate the weekly by reading only one  issue. He published translated articles from other languages like Bengali. Many famous persons wrote in it and Gandhi regularly communicated with them. He gave ample importance to the feedback from the readers.

Navajivan was running at a loss at one stage . Then the price of one copy was 16 paise. 8 paise had to be spent on the raw paper alone. But Gandhi was not willing to decrease the quality of the paper. He insisted on using good quality paper. He decreased the size and the number of  pages. Number of pages was decreased to 12 from 16. In Bombai and Ahmedabad Navajivan sold on five paise instead of four for single copy. Gandhi informed the readers that, if he increased the number of copies, the loss will also increase. So in that stage, Gandhi and the readers struggled not to increase the circulation. When Navajivan was started, eight pages were promised but, the circumstances having permitted, sixteen pages were given. Gandhi did not avoid any subject because of lack of space. He concised articles with greater effort and attempted to include all of them. Gandhi was against to write lengthy articles in newspapers and weeklies. He criticized the publication of large articles in newspapers. He observed that the writer failed to communicate his ideas to the readers in such lengthy writing. Some times the ideas become not easily understandable. Gandhi insisted on that the articles in the Navajivan must be short and matter-of-fact. His thrust was on social issues. The main aim of the magazine was service.

While continuing publication, Navajivan become profitable. Gandhi could increase pages up to 16 without any loss. But he was not profit motive also. Navajivan continued the publishing with the help of editor Gandhi, his co-workers and readers with a fully service mentality. At the same time he was very calculative and keenly observing the economic side of the paper. His Gujarati Beniya tradition of traders was considered as one of its causes by observers. Gandhi wrote: “These two weeklies (‘Navajivan’ and ‘Young India’) enabled me freely to ventilate my views and to put heart into the people. Thus I feel that both the journals rendered good service to the people in this hour of trial, and did their humble bit towards lightening the tyranny of the martial law.”[19] Gandhi was jailed in 1922 for writing articles against the government in his weeklies. He was accused sedition. Even then he was not go behind from his journalistic attempts. Another example for Gandhi’s deep- rooted commitment is that on communal harmony. He devoted one full issue of his weekly for this. At the same time, we can see that he devoted his full life for communal harmony and unity.

(iv)    Harijan

‘Harijan’ (1933-1956) is the English weekly journal founded by Mahatma Gandhi and published under the auspices of the Harijan Sevak Sangh, Poona and from 1942 by the Navajivan Trust, Ahmedebad. The weekly suspended publication in 1940 during the ‘Individual satyagraha’; resumed in January 1942, but again stopped during the ‘Quit India’ Struggle. The main aim of starting ‘Harijan’ was to teach the masses about Gandhi’s ideas of satyagraha, non-violence and nonviolent resistance.[19] The burden of leading a nation towards freedom and the contingency of having to face trials followed by jail terms did not stem the flow of writing from Gandhi’s pen. There was not a day when he was not writing on some issue or the other in his weeklies. Gandhiji started Harijan on 11th February, 1933. It was a continuation of the ‘Navajivan’. The very word ‘Harijan’ means the people of God. Gandhi called the downtrodden and marginalised people, ‘Harijan’. His aim was the upliftment of the poor, helpless millions. This name had been suggested by a reader of ‘Navajivan’ in response to Gandhi’s call through the weekly. Names such as untouchables, defused class, scheduled caste, last born… etc., were not acceptable to him.  Gandhi earnestly desired that the weekly should be circulated all over India.  G.D. Birla sponsored the English weekly. R.V. Shasti was its first editor. The growth of the weekly was quite fast.  It soon became a self-supporting venture.  Gradually Gandhi started Harijan in various other languages. Its Hindi edition was named  ‘Harijan-bandhu’. It got Gandhi’s special attention and supervision, because it was the most widely read edition. Gandhi wrote articles for the Hairjan regularly in a simple, vivid language. He gave his own version to deep issues. Mahadev Desai, K.G. Mashruwala, Jawaharlal Nahru, R.R.Diwakar C.Rajagopalachari, Kaka Kalekar and many other freedom fighters wrote regularly in the weekly.

The main aim of the publication was to remove untouchability from the society. Attempts like temple- entry were supported whole heartedly by Gandhiji. He said, ‘Untouchability is a wound in the body of Hindu religion. It must be remedied by all.’[19] Harijan’ also helped Gandhi to propagate  the constructive programme. Harijan weekly was a news source to many of the major newspapers and news agencies at that time. Every week Gandhi, had to say something important to his readers. Most of the newspapers both in India and on abroad make it front page news item. Harijan was published on all Fridays with news, small write ups, informative pieces, local informations, translated articles etc. The annual subscription rate of the weekly was Rs.4/- This also helped to attain good circulation.

During the time of Communal Award amendment of law Gandhi stopped the publication. This was as a protest to the Government. This was in 1940. After six years Harijan was re-started it’s publication and continued upto 1949. Gandhi’s publications are the part of history today. But it was very helpful to the study of history of India’s freedom struggle. When Gandhi started ‘Harijan’, he asked Dr. B.R. Ambedkar for a message. Dr. Ambedkar not responded positively. He replied that the caste Hindus not accept his message. Gandhi included this write up of Ambekar in the first issue of English Harijan.[19]

There are no such journals which are influential like ‘Harijan’ in the world among small publications. Gandhi wrote: “Harijan service is a duty the caste Hindus owe to themselves.”[19] It is a fact that untochability in India was decreased very much as a result of these type of message. He could win the people of India by advocating the principles of truth and non-violence which are the guiding principles in all his activities.

Once Gandhiji wrote a letter to Sir Edward Benthall, Managing Director of the Titaghur Paper mills, asking him to give paper free of cost for the Hindi edition of the Harijan. Sir Benthal was not ready to make a gift of the paper but promised to give advertisements in the paper so that Gandhiji could buy enough paper for the newspaper. Gandhiji said that the ‘Harijan’ would mention that the paper was a gift from Titaghur paper mills and that itself would be a good advertisement. Benthall was not agreeable to such a mere acknowledgement. He insisted on a direct advertisement. But the ‘Harijan’ had decided not to take advertisements for pecuniary benefits. This policy of keeping away from advertisements was unwavering and was zealously adhered to. Gandhiji had set ideas on the functions to be performed by the press. In his autobiography. Gandhiji had defined the objectives of journalism as follows: “One of the objects of a newspaper is to understand the popular feelings and give expression to them; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to espouse popular defects”. Gandhiji exerted a powerful influence on the promoters of newspapers and frequently induced them to be fearless. He earnestly wanted frank opinions on his personal views to be expressed. “His appeal to the editors of newspapers was that they should not surrender  their conscience at any cost.”[19] Knowing full well, the power of the pen. Gandhiji exploited the situation by starting Harijan for the service of the nation. Gandhi’s faith in the Indian masses was unshakeable and people’s confidence in him had remained profound and abiding.

The most remarkable service Gandhi rendered to India or rather to Hinduism, as a religious reformer, was his stern opposition to the rigid caste system and unsociability. Before him, though many religious reformers had attacked it, none of them had so successfully revolutionized the attitude of India’s intelligentsia towards untouchability as Gandhi.[19] For this aim ‘Harijan’ halped Gandhi very much. He wrote in ‘Harijan’: “Harijan service will be always after my heart and will be the breath of life for me, more precious than the daily bread, but I cannot live without Harijan service for one single minute.”[19] Gandhi’s work influenced the legal system of the country. This is in fact, the power of the pen also. In 1933 the state of Baroda passed a law named ‘the Caste Tyranny Removal System.[19] Travancore followed this example, opening all the temples for Harijans.[19]  Now, untouchability is forbidden by Article 17 of the Indian constitution.[19]  Gandhi realized far  before that 1/6th of Indian population was Harijan. He visualized the upliftment of India in their upliftment.

In that time, the voice of Mahatma Gandhi, was the voice of India. Harijan was not a news paper in the usual sense of the term. It was more a views paper, conveying to an eager world what the Mahatma though on a wide range of subjects. He answered the questions of his readers about various subjects through the weekly. Once there was an occasion which ‘Harijan’ refused to publish Gandhi’s own article. Gandhi revealed the truth that Manu is sleeping near him at night, in a write up. Two editors resigned after getting this write up for not to publish it. The trustees of Harijan also hesitate to publish this. Gandhi became disappointed. After Gandhi’s death, his disciples attempted to keep the Harijan going. Commendable as the effort was, it had its great short coming, for Harijan without Gandhiji was like a body without the soul. Men like Mashruwala most faithful Gandhians, tried hard to keep the journal going but they must have known from the very beginning that they had set for themselves an impossible task. It became more and more apparent as the weeks rolled by until ennui possessed the editors and the journal had  its natural ‘death’.

Article 2.    Topics of Gandhiji’s Journalistic writing

We know that Gandhi was a versatile genius. Journalism was one of his tools for social transformation. He covered a wide range of subjects in his weeklies. He responded to anything which he considered as relevant – some times it was international, some other times it was purely local and negligible to others. Gandhi had an extraordinary soul force. He always analyse things with the help of this. He keenly heard the inner voice and became firm in his principles. So he could wrote on various subjects and interrelate things logically.

When Gandhi wrote on a subject he was giving importance to truth. He never considered to his past words. Here we can see an inconsistency of approaches. Gandhi’s consistency was to truth and not to his past words. Also he was growing in his thinking as an extra ordinary practical  philosopher. He explained this as a growth from truth to truth. Gandhiji was interested in going to the root of every problem. So he was not trivialising matters. He did not like peripheral approach.[19] Most of Gandhi’s writings had a personal touch. This personal touch was peculiar in nature.

The phrases, quotations and sayings of Gandhi was apt. Now for example, let us see what Gandhiji says about Tagore: One day a public worker told Gandhiji, “Bapuji, this Ravindranath writes well but he does not take part in the struggle. If he loves the country, why does he not do anything?” Gandhiji replied in one sentence: “A cow does a cow’s work and a horse does a horse’s work”.

The topic which most Gandhi wrote on was naturally politics. At the same time he wrote on philosophy, sociology, art of teaching, economics, guide to health etc. Satyagraha, village development, equality, khadi, propagation of Hindi, naithalim (education through mother tongue), casteless society, removal of untouchability, upliftment of women, service to Harijans, self- realization, village cleanliness, rural reconstruction, detachment, village industries etc. were his thrust areas. He touched almost all subjects under the sky with a humane touch. He made remarkable observations on various topics. For example, he was nursing a leprosy patient called Purchuri Shastri  in his Ashram. The observations on leprosy which Gandhi got are written by him. These observations have been confirmed by modern medical science after decades.

Gandhi knew that every media was useful to man but had to be used wisely. If it was used carelessly the media could enslave us. He selected topics carefully for his writings. His prudent and guided approach was quite enlightening .Gandhi always welcomed criticism on his writings. He often published such public responses in his journals. Behind all his writings and statements, stood the indomitable power of his personality and his committed action for the good of humanity.  His spiritual insights ethical valuations and philanthropic enterprises could and will still  immensely inspire and illuminate the people of this millennium. Gandhi tried to reform the society and make it free from corruption . He fought against exploitation of all type. His social commitment and love of nature is extraordinary.  His truthfulness and courage is unique. He is absolutely fearless. He had no vested interests in taking topics. He was very much concerned about the ‘Daridranarayanas’ and downtrodden people in the society. His dharmic approach was seen in his selection of topics also. He welcomed the wind of every where to his room. In this age of market-economy, we are realizing the importance of Gandhiji’s approach more and more.

(i)      Gandhiji’s Unique Style of Writing

Gandhi’s writing was in graphic and picturesque. He always adhered to the simple style. His thoughts, words and deeds were inextricably connected. He wrote small write- ups many a time. He strictly followed his own axiom; ‘small is beautiful’ in his writing too. His clarity of thinking is unique.

Gandhi wrote: “I must say that, beyond occasionally exposing me to laughter, my constitutional shyness has been  no disadvantage whatever. In fact I can see that, on the contrary, it has been all to my advantage. My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words”. He considered this helped him in his discernment of truth.[19] In writing also Gandhi followed this principle of economy of words.

Gandhi was not in the habit of diary writing. His writing was not based on documents. The style was not that of academic documentation or professional journalism. His major writings including Autobiography is based on his memory. “I write just as the spirit moves me at the time of writing. I do not claim to know definitely that all conscious thought and action on my part is directed by the Spirit. But on an examination of the greatest steps that I have taken in my life, as also of those that may be regarded as the least, I think it will not be improper to say that all of them were directed by the Spirit”, Gandhi wrote.[19] “Writing is itself one of the experiments with truth.”[19] Gandhi was an voracious writer. His writing was spontaneous also. He was using words as a great teacher, not as a professional journalist. He never exaggerate things. He used several similes and examples. His approach was related to Indian tradition. He used terms from our legends and puranas. This was helpful to understand his principles easily. For example, the word ‘Ramarajya’ was very much related to our Indian culture. The influence of Bible also helped him to use good language. He keeps nonviolence in language also. He avoids harsh words, even in provocative situations.

Gandhi could implement satyagraha with the help of his publications. He knew the method, attitude and various styles of using language. He was not having a literary style, like that of Pandit Nehru. Gandhi’s language was not flowery or ornamental. Gandhiji’s publications helped for the perpetuation of his ideas. He was absolutely true to himself when he said: ‘My life is my message.’  Gandhi did an extensive mass education which he imparted nearly for half a century. His approach was psychological. Experts say that he knew the techniques of mass psychology. His cleverness and sense of humour also make the writing attractive to the reader.  Even his seriousness was tempered with a touch of humour. Critical examination of Gandhian literature, thought and philosophy reveal these peculiarities of Gandhi’s language.

(ii)     Gandhiji’s Peculiar Language

Gandhiji used powerful language when it was necessary. For example he used the slogan ‘Quit India’. He knew the power of each word. At the same time his words are understandable to the reader in first reading. His language is simple and readable. His sentences are short. The flow of language is notable. He wrote in a straight forward manner. At the same time the way of tight writing was extra ordinary. His natural language was written with the tune of a speech. At the same time it was published after  well edited. For example, he said:  “the path of truth is as narrow as it is straight”. Here a great idea is expressed with few simple words. One can not easily express such an idea with the help of much lesser words than this.

Gandhi knew how to communicate his thoughts in a small space. He wrote with different angles to express various thoughts according to situations. He never used cleache expressions. He gave importance to ideas; no to indirect and feature style literature his language was layman language with an aristocratic treatment. He knew the apt meaning of each word. His sentences were direct. He hate complex sentences. Gandhi knew that the tool of the journalists and writers is language. He insisted on that the language of newspapers must be moderate. But some times Gandhi used violent and harsh words. Gandhi considered the mother of parliament as a sterile women and a prostitute. He explained its cause also “Both these are harsh terms, but exactly fit the case”[19]

Gandhi was an ardent lover of Hindi. He insisted that basic education must be through the Mother Tongue. At the same time he did not dislike English. He wrote: Our best thoughts are expressed in English; our best newspapers are printed in English’.[19]  At the same time he wanted Indians to preserve their languages. He was very keen in the case of languages. It may sound strange but it is quite true that the Father of the Indian Nation, who was staunchly in favour of using Indian languages, has enriched the English language to a great extent. Gandhiji has contributed richly to world thought. But the way in which he has expressed his thoughts for the world is his particular contribution to English literature. Gandhi’s writing underlining the beauty of his expressions.

Gandhi was a man of ardent spiritual life. Any one who reads his writing will easily admit that he was a man of extraordinary interior life. When using language Gandhi heard the voice from within. He listened to the words which are related to his philosophic stand. At the same time he paid special attention to the minute peculiarities of languages. “Languages proclaim that women are half of man and by party of reasoning man is half of woman. They are not two separate entities, but halves of one. The English language goes further and calls woman the better half of man.”[19]  But he avoid mere fashionable use of foreign languages and expressions. The journalistic scholars and media experts also appreciating Gandhi’s approach.[19]

More important than the style was the content of his writing. The subject matter he chose was down to the ground. Gandhiji was able to divert the attention of the rising journalists and authors from cities to villages. He impressed on them the fact that India lives in her villages; that the journalist’s or author’s job was to write about village and villagers. Thus he was able to put the villages of India on the wider and lively canvas of Indian writing. The Gandhian era of writing, a golden era came into existence.

Gandhi’s humor sense enriches his writings. When Gandhi was invited to Delhi by Mountbatten before he became the viceroy. Gandhi wrote the reply to Mountbatten just after getting the letter. He gave it to one of his followers and said, ‘this must post only after two days. That young man does not consider that I was eagerly waiting for his invitation’. After that he laughed.[19] Humour sense and good handwriting are considered as a boon to journalists and writers all over the world.

Bhagawat Gita, Holy Bible, The Light of Asia, etc., developed Gandhi’s good language. Tolotoy’s ‘The Kingdom of God is Within You’ and Ruskin’s ‘Unto This Last’ also influenced him very much. The deep truthfulness and ethics increased the glitterness of Gandhi’s language. During the three year long stay in London, Gandhi confronted the social and revolutionary theories prevalent in Europe; he came into contact with a lot of western literature as well as with people interested in Indian religious traditions. He read for the first time Bhagavad Gita in English translation – ‘The Song Celestial’ by Sir Edwin Arnold. He read Madame Blavatsky’s ‘Key to Theosophy’.  He followed Kropotkims’ ‘Mutual Aid’ which was then appearing serially in a London journal. He met socialists and humanitarians like Edward Carpenter, and theosophists like Annie Besant. He conversed cordially with many Christians and Quakers. All these things helped Gandhi to develop his influential language.

As Louis Fischer rightly pointed out, Gandhis’ mind and emotions were even more exposed than his body.[19] He made himself accessible to all. The accessibility was complete as well as creative in journalistic sense.

Article 3.   Repercussions of Gandhji’s Journalistic Approach

Mahatma Gandhi was a great journalist, not only because he was great in so many ways and his greatness was total but because he had a great journalist’s special gifts of courage and bravery. Gandhi was one of the most fearless of journalists. His life was an epic struggle for freedom and equality and though national freedom came in the last years of his life, he had been ceaselessly exercising his freedom before it came, fighting the many restrictions imposed by the British regime from time to time. He also fought for the freedom of the press. “For a man who knew no fear, this might seem natural, but he was also the most independent journalist possible, independent of the Government, independent of business, independent of party. In his case there was no question of the usual external or internal pressures on the press.”[19]

Gandhi was arrested and jailed twice for writing in his journals. ‘Young India’ was suspended when Gandhi was prosecuted for his articles and sentenced in the famous trial of 1922. After two years in prison, ‘Young India’ was revived and Gandhi resumed editing it. The circulation had fallen by them from 21500 to 3000. But it sealed new heights before long.

The journalist in Gandhi aimed at making the Indians capable for attaining swaraj. With this objective in view he tried to increase the moral and spiritual strength of the people. Gradually the peoples power of discrimination between moral and immoral things increased and they got strength to stand by the right and resist the evil in the minds increased. On 13th March 1922 Gandhi wrote an article in Young India. It infuriated the government and Gandhi was accused sedition. He was arrested and jailed. This was Gandhi’s first imprisonment in India. The Editor, Mr. M.K. Gandhi and the publisher, Mr. Desai of ‘Young India’ were produced before the court in person. Another charge was brought against them. They were accused of forcing some advocates of Alahabad court to sign on the satyagraha pledge. This was the first allegation of contempt of court alleged against him.

The Thalidomide case in England related to ‘Sunday Times’ was a similar case. The main accusation was that the paper gave its opinion on an issue which was in front of the court for consideration. . But Gandhi had the strong conviction that the papers had the right to discuss any issues which had public interest. His commitment was not to court, but to truth. He explained this in ‘Young India’.[19]  Though the Thalidomyde case came for consideration after Gandhi wrote  his view and  the court was influenced by his words. In India the contempt of court law was amended in 2005. The principle of Truth as defence was included in the law. The sanctity of truth came to be accepted both in journalism and in law.

In 1928 also Gandhi was jailed for writings on Navajivan and ‘Young India’. When Gandhi was jailed Barrister George Joseph took the charge of the editor of ‘Young India’ in 1930. The government turned against to the two publications. It was discontinued. In 1931 it restarted. But both ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Young India’ were stopped in January 1933.

Gandhi’s arrest on 10th March 1922 was on a charge of rousing the people against the British government. The accusation was based on  three articles (‘Tampering with laity’, ‘A puzzle and its solution’ and ‘Shaking the manes’) which  he wrote in ‘Young India’, whose publisher Shankarlal Banker also underwent trial before C.N. Broomfield, the District and sessions Judge of Ahmedabad. Gandhi was sentenced to six years imprisonment.It proved a blessing in disguise. The life in the Yervada prison near Poona gave him time for rest, reading and writing.

Here we can see that Gandhi stood firmly by what he wrote.  He never deviated from or side-tracked his convictions. He took full responsibility for what he wrote. He was against all kinds of repression of the press. Gandhi wrote about this in 1910 while explaining his stand against the Press Act. He considered the existence of a free public press to be one of the first essentials of a healthy and progressive society and indispensable to the proper development, political and moral, of civilized people; and further that the extension and maintenance of freedom in all departments of public life is the surest guarantee of popular progress and contentment and of mutual trust between the government and the people. He wants that the press in this country should enjoy the utmost liberty of expression, subject to the legal restraints of the ordinary law and penalties should be imposed  only after proper trial and conviction.[19]

He continued, “We read newspaper. But are you sure that you read the real thoughts of the editor? I think not. Independent views of writers are not published. What is published is otherwise and therefore, one can say that it is advisable to read the opposite into the words that appear in the newspapers. To my newspaper writer brethren I say, ‘Say openly whatever you have to say’ that is our duty.’’ [19]

Article 4.  Gandhian Views on Journalistic Ethics

Gandhi considered the primary duty of journalists is to write truth. To find out truth and reveal it for the benefit of public is considered as the base of journalistic ethics. It is the primary duty of the media. Gandhi considered journalism as a way to serve people. Service was the essence of this journalism. He gave a humane face to journalism. Today journalism becomes a profession. Gandhi never considered it as mere profession. He insisted on certain ethical codes. To him each written word was sacred. Gandhi advised that the journalists must be honest. He considered honesty as the best policy. “Honesty has never been so much proved to be the best policy as it is now for those who do not or cannot back their dishonesty with gunpowder and poison gas.” [19]Gandhi continued, where there is honest effort, it will be realised that what appear to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree.”[19]  He insisted on the objectivity of writing. He always adhered to objectivity in his writings. While upholding moral standards and ethics, Gandhi considered the reliability and public accountability of the publication is its most valuable asset. An organization earns and maintains a strong reputation to a great extent, through a consistent implementation of ethical standards, which influence its position with the public and within the publishing house.

Checking, rechecking, fairness, transparency, ethics, lawfulness etc are the principles of media justice. Gandhi gave ample respect to all these principles. He was not only considering the goodwill of the society but also the betterment of the individual. He propagated the duty of media in thinking reasonably and acting according to that. He empowered the thought process of the individual and the society. He never took partisan approach. Always stand with truth. He believed that truth will finally triumph however it must be tried to close. His definition of ‘dharma’ was the non-violent pursuit of truth.

Gandhi considered the necessity of experiments and reflection to understand and meet the needs of the times. Being a man of action he didn’t formulate theories or didn’t write any long systematic treatise on journalistic ethics. But he expressed his views in some context or other on almost all important aspects of life. He wrote on various topics in his editorials. Even the brief statements given to the press were also very penetrating.. Gandhi laid stress on the need for action – Karmayoga – for renewing the society. Strength lies in action and action is duty done.

Gandhi was a man of ethical journalism. He did not give any strict code of conduct for journalism. But he declared that there must not be any clash of interests in fulfilling the duties of journalists. The writings and reports must be unbiased and unprejudiced. Gandhi never considered the press as a venture based on commercial interests. He insisted that journalism must be value based. All other type of journalism must be resisted by the people. Newspaper is not a product for marketing. It is an important media for communication. Gandhi’s approach to journalism was not aimed at covering news. It was different from today’s practices he provided ideas and ideologies for the national cause. His primary aim was to offer new ideas to the people. That was a kind of campaigning journalism. Even then he stuck to truth with all its sacredness. The honesty, simplicity and truth which he upheld in his life were reflected in his writings. Gandhi was not in a run for mass circulation. He stood certain principles which he believed to be right. Those principles and codes are as relevant today as they were in his times. Gandhi liked direct communication. He stood for uncontrolled press freedom. Both in life and in journalism he was a man of self restraint and self-control. Today, the Indian Press Council calls for self- control and self- restraint on the part of   journals and journalists.

Gandhi respected the right to reply, right to information and the responsibility to correct. He never insisted on his stand firmly. Whenever he thought that his stand was not correct, he immediately corrected that. Satyagraha is also a method of correction and purification. But today the media is not ready to correct its mistakes. In Gandhi’s Autobiography and in his writings we can see so many occasions which he correct his own mistakes. Gandhi had no vested interest in his journalism. Today newspapers are found to be guided by selfish interests, personal and business interests rule the medial today. Gandhi was an advocate of uncontrolled press. He believed that for that if the press freedom was restrictedly limited by those in power not only the journalists but also the entire public should fight against that.  “Were I to describe the worries and hardships of journalists, I should fill a volume as big as the ‘Mahabharata’. People some times praise me and some times swear at me as well; sometimes they defend that authorities and occasionally denounce them too. It is for journalists to separate the gram from the chaff in all this. It is the journalist’s duty to throw light on every matter of public concern. However, not to admit in one’s paper a single adjective which does not serve the people’s cause is the most effective means of securing the repeal of the press act,” Gandhi wrote.[19]

Gandhi was a man of practical journalism and worked as such for over about twenty years. But he never compromised on ethics and principles.  Today the journalistic field has become an arena of cut-throat  competition. This competition drives many people to deviate from the path of time honoured conventions and values. Gandhi wrote, “It was a hard struggle, but I found in the field of journalism as in many others that the strictest honesty and fair dealing was undoubtedly the best policy. Any shorter cut is longer at least by double the length sought to be saved. The rule I would like my fellow journalists to observe is never to publish any news without having it checked by some one connected with me and having authority.”[19]  Journalistic work is an unending quest for truth. Amidst the journalistic gold rush to commercialise news, some publications have always been committed to in-depth inquiry and truthful reportage. Hype may get visibility, but it clouds the reader’s minds. Hype may sell, but it’s not news. So good publications must guard themselves from the onslaught of commercial enticement.

The media has the power to change the conscience of the society for the better or for the worse. Media influences the society in taking decisions and making choices.  It can empower the society in a positive way. In gaining this objective, media ethics and social considerations play a vital role. If public opinion desired suppression, the press would on its own initiative exclude news and opinion disliked by the public. “Editors can signify their disapproval of the gag by either publishing the offending statements and risking prosecution or even confiscation of the press or by stopping publication of their papers altogether by way of protest.”[19]

(i)      Journalism and Advertisements

Gandhi was against publishing advertisements in journalistic publications. He didn’t publish any kind of advertisements in his own journals. “From the very start I set my face against taking advertisements in these journals. (in ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Young India’) I do not think that they have lost anything thereby.”[19] Gandhi considered that it had in no small measure helped them to maintain their independence. Again he considered advertisement as an indirect tax. Indian opinion published some advertisements in its starting stage. But later, it avoided all kinds of advertisements. Gandhi felt that the journal was in a hunger for advertisement. So he took this firm stand.

As we saw, Gandhi considered journalism as service. This is the cause of his resistance to advertisements. He also said that if a product is good, all newspapers must write about that product without any payment. Once Gandhi wrote about a pump set in this way in his publication.[19]

Today, we can not think about a newspaper refusing to publish advertisements. But the relevance of Gandhi’s attitude towards advertisements is more now than ever before. We are living in a consumeristic society.  Advertisements misguide the common consumer. An ordinary person has become so dependent on them that he cannot take decisions on many things without their guidance. Gandhi foresaw this danger. The citizens of every country are today having degraded themselves as consumers of certain products. They are consumers of newspapers also. Readers are not considered as subscribers, but as customers. as newspaper had become mere product for sale. Its power as Fourth Estate in a democratic country like ours is decreasing. The advertisement revenue of newspapers is directly proportional to its circulation. Then the media is aiming at circulation alone. This is not good for a healthy media environment.

Some advertisements lead to cultural degradation. Women are exploited in several advertisements. This will lead to the destruction of the cultural standard of a society. The advertisements are also doing damage to language. The language used in many advertisements is deceptively ambiguous, not pure. Gradually it will degrade the society. Gandhi was against to all kinds of addictions. The advertisements are meant for marketing a product. This also tends the customer for continuous buying. The customer become brand addicted. This was against to Gandhi’s principles. He was basically a man of ‘anasakthi’. Unfortunately today, we are forced to view even illegal advertisements in the media.

Another problem related to advertisements is that it will create unnecessary wants. This will increase the wants. The advertiser forces the customer to increase his wants. This is against to the Gandhian theory of limitation of wants. Today, the advertisers increasing the market without considering the purchasing power of the people with the help of the media. On the other hand the newspaper houses selling their space for money. This kind of space marketing also led to unhealthy competition between newspapers.

Gandhi believed that advertisements will not help the increase of the quality of the product. The producers spent a lot of money for advertising. So naturally it will make a decrease in the amount spent for maintaining the quality of the product. The magic of advertising does not help the consumer in increasing the standard of consumption.[19] Finally, the advertisements create different tastes in various persons. This will led to the destruction of interpersonal relations and family relations. This will also make adverse effect in the society. Gandhi was a man of ardent ‘dharmic’ believes. So he protests all kind of adharmic tendencies in the society. Attract the customers indirectly, change their lifestyle and change their socio-economic back grounds and even their level of maturity as buyers are not good. The sole aim of advertising is sales promotion. Even if it is considered as a good aim, the means for that is not good. Advertising is an artificial way for increasing needs. Gandhi’s economic philosophy is need based and not greed based.  Also he insisted on that both ends and means must be pure.

The latest studies in the media field have confirmed the wisdom in Gandhi’s  approach. Sandeep Lakhina, C.O.O., South Asia at Stardom Worldwide recently wrote about this – “Today, content is king, and advertisements are boring. And the world of marketing communications is in flur. Marketters, agency folks, brand custodians etc…. across the globe have been obsessed with the new world of communications.[19] The consumption of newspapers is based on the speed of communication, strength of the content, approaches to various issues, and the brand loyalty of the reader; not on the volume of advertisements.

The globalised market today not promoting the media which stands for investigative journalism. They advocate for entertainment and trivialisation of issues and news. They want the people must be led according to tendencies of the market. For this, advertisement is the tool. One deep study of Gandhi’s approach to advertisements will easily reveal that he had foreseen this danger far before. Today the media is, unfortunately, ignoring the social wellness aspect of it. It is also observed that some companies and establishments are given excessive news coverage in the newspaper / magazines because they had issued advertisements to that print media. Sometimes, adverse reports are published of those companies which do not give advertisements to the newspapers or magazines. This is another problem aroused when median give more importance to advertisements. The Press Council of India gave guidelines on this in 1996. The guideline continues, the no newspaper owner, editor or anybody connected with a newspaper should use his relations with the newspapers to promote his other business interests. These guidelines are come from the Gandhian influence.

(ii)     Patriotism

Gandhi, as a man and as a journalist was absolutely patriotic. He himself admitted it many times. He loved India, not only because it was his birth place, but also he found the inborn and everlasting goodness of this country. He was impartial in his evaluation. At the same time he was a global citizen. He as an internationalist welcomes the goodness from everywhere. He wrote in ‘Young India’, “It is impossible for one to be internationalist without being a nationalist. Internationalism is possible only when nationalism becomes a fact, i.e, when people belonging to different countries have organized themselves and are able to act as one man”.[19] He continues “My patriotism is not an exclusive thing. It is all-embracing and I should reject that patriotism which sought to mount upon the distress of the exploitation of other nationalities. The conception of my patriotism is nothing if it is not always, in every case, without exception, consistent with the broadest good of humanity at large.”[19]

Gandhi used journalism as one of the tools for national reawakening. The strength and content of swaraj depended on the growth of national consciousness and aspirations. The Indian nationalism should mean the development of the national strength of India. Gandhi wrote, “the fight for swaraj means not mere political awakening but an all-round awakening social, educational, moral economic and political.[19] Gandhi gave primary importance to the propagation of constructive programme both in his life and in his journals. His topics were the rural upliftment, self sufficiency of the villages, education, sanitation, nutrition, promotion of women, communal amity, care for lepers, economic equality and so on. All these topics are selected from his patriotic approach, social committment and concern for national development. Gandhi knew that journalism is a kind of mass education. Education is an elementary right and it is necessary for the development of individuals. He believed, ‘Swaraj is to be attained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority.”[19]

Today, the patriotic feeling among journalists is lessening than that of the pre-independent period. Almost all of our national leaders are taking journalism as a way to serve country. They had their own dailies to express their own patriotic vision. For them patriotism is almost same as humanity. Gandhi himself says, “I am human and humane. There is no cultural isolation for me.”[19]  At the same time, we know that Gandhi was a man who was ready to sacrifice his life for Mother India. He was serving the country unto his last breath with extra ordinary courage. The fight against atrocities, social evils and injustices is a symbol of patriotism. So each journalist is getting an occasion to show patriotism when he stands and writes about these evils. The conception of Gandhi’s patriotism is nothing if it is not always, in every case without exception, consistent with the broadest good of humanity at large.

Gandhi served almost 50 years as a political leader in India. His journalistic experiments are also go hand in hand with his political life. We can see patriotism even in the names of his publication – ‘Young India’, ‘Indian opinion’ etc. In the introductory issue of Navajivan declares that by that name the editor aims the re-birth of the mind of the reader and the country. Journalists must realize that Gandhi was as patriotic as to write, “Just as the cult of patriotism teaches us today that the individual has to die for the family, the family has to die for the village, the village for the district, the district for the province, and the province for the country, and so a country has to be free in order that it may die if necessary for the benefit of the world.”[19]

(iii)    Unbiased and Impartial Approach

As a journalist, Gandhi’s approach was unbiased and impartial. He had no prejudices or vested interests. Always he stood for justice. For Gandhi, all men are brothers and God is the father of all. Accordingly, all have a basic right for equality, human fraternity and freedom as the children of God. That is why as early as in 1893, Gandhi fought against the violations of the basic human rights. To him all men are equal. This was the foundation of his unbiased and impartial journalistic approach.

Gandhi explained his ardent stand in ‘Hind Swaraj’ about this, “The same fact is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited. One party magnified its own importance while the other party minimises it. One news paper would consider a great Englishman to be a paragon of honesty, another would consider him dishonest. What must be the condition of the people whose newspapers are of this type.”[19]

Gandhi fully agreed with C.P. Scott’s journalistic view, that ‘Facts are sacred and comment is free’. He never wrote anything before making sure that it is true.  He knew that most of the readers considered newspapers as their Bible. So newspaper editors must be  truthful. At the same time he saw the people changing their views frequently. In Gandhi’s own words, ‘these views swing like the pendulum of a clock and are never steadfast’ (ibid, p.33).But the firm and truthful stand of a newspaper or a journalist must not be changed. If the stand was incorrect it must be corrected. Truth must only be replaced by a greater truth. Here Gandhi underlined the importance of the credibility of a newspaper. A newspaper which forfeits its credibility will not survive. Even in this age of internet editions, the credibility of the newspaper house is calculated seriously by the reader. As life, journalism is an enterprise based on give and take principles. So truthfulness must be the guiding principle in the functioning of this most potent media. So Gandhi’s unbiased stand in his writing should serve as a model for every creative journalist.

The public has the right to be informed of   different opinions and visions.  Journalism must function like a meaningful dialogue, not as a monologue. Various shades of opinions must be discussed with mutual respect. Otherwise, tyrannical and intolerant approaches will tarnish the very image of journalism. Besides it will cause a threat to the sacred Press Freedom itself. To be precise, the press must be impartial and unbiased because it is not a client in any dispute.  But today, in practice almost all newspapers are  guilty of taking a partisan attitude in all issues, social  or political . Even non-party free newspapers are take sides to inflame passion. This will serve only to ruin the democratic institutions including the unrestricted news culture. Furthermore, such an approach will prevent   the newspapers from fighting the evils and injustices in the society. Most of the media owners have vested interests and back- door relations with the ruling class and administrative barons. It is high time that people realised the danger and fought against the menace with tooth and nail.

References

[19]       Ed. Sunil Sharma, Journalist Gandhi, Selected writings of Gandhi, Gandhi Book centre, Bombay, 1994, p. 7

[19]       E.S. Jones, Mahatma Gandhi, an interpretation, London, 1948, p. 26

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.25. p. 255

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol LXIX, p. 213

[19]       R.K. Prabhu & U.R.Rao, The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan publishing house Ahmedabad, 1945, p.39

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 4,p.320, Vol 5, p.289-90

[19]       ibid, 289

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. V. P.295

[19]       An Autobiography, p. 330

[19]       ibid p.330

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan publishing House, Ahmedabad, p-348

[19]       ibid, p.350

[19]       An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House Ahmedabad, 1927, p. 330

[19]       cfr. Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol I preface p.v.

[19]       An Autobiography, p.213

[19]       M.K.Gandhi, Hind Swaraj, p. 11

[19]       An Autobiography, M.K.Gandhi. p. 550

[19]       ibid, p.551

[19]       K.N.Valsan, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’, Sreevalsam Publishing House, Kochi, 2008,
p. 465

[19]       Media Digest, Kerala Press Academy, April 1994.Article: ‘Gandhi, the Journalist’: written by Perunna K.N. Nair p. 30

[19]       Mahatma Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Vol 1, by D.G.Tendulkar p.265, The Publications division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 78, p.138 – Code of Ethics for Journalism

[19]       Navajivan, Sept.7, 1919

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 43, p.14

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography, p. 551

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography, p .262 & Tendulkar, ‘Mahatma’, Vol III, p. 191

[19]       Media Digest, Kerala Press Academy, 1994 April, p. 95

[19]       Mathrubhumi Illustrated weekly, 2004 April 18-24, p. 28

[19]       Mahatma, Vol.No.3, 2nd Edn , Publication Division D.G. Tendulkar, p. 203

[19]       ‘Indian Journalism’, Nadiq Krishnamurthy, Prasaranga University of Mysore,
p. 96

[19]       S. Radhakrishnan (ed.), ‘Mahatma Gandhi’, p. 57

[19]       Harijan, August 26, 1933, p.1

[19]       L.S.S. O’Malley (ed) ‘Modern India and the West p. 361

[19]       ibid, 378

[19]       c.f. Amar Nandi, The constitution of India, Calcutta, 1958 p. 69

[19]       Gunvant Shah, ‘Gandhi for the New Generation’, Navajivan publishing house Ahmedabad, 1982, p.18

[19]       Gunvant Shah, ‘Gandhi for the New Generation’, Navajivan publishing house Ahmedabad, 1982, p.18

[19]       An Autobiography, p. 323

[19]       ibid, p.324

[19]       Ed. Anthony J. Parel, ‘Gandhi-Hind Swaraj and other Writings,’ Cambridge texts in Modern politics, p .30

[19]       ibid, p. 103

[19]       Harijan, March 23, 1947, P.80 & Auto biography p.18

[19]       K.M. Shrivastava, News Reporting and Editing, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi, p.23

[19]       Larrie Collins and Dominic Lapire, ‘Freedom at Midnight’, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1998

[19]       Louis Fischer, ‘The Life of Mahatma’, p. 399

[19]       M. Chalapathi Rao, ‘The Press in India’, Allied Publishers Private Limited, Bombay, 1968 p. 69

[19]       ‘Young India’ 6th January 1920, p.36

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 13, p. 62

[19]       ibid, p. 63

[19]       D.G. Tendulkar,  ‘Mahatma’, Vol.4, 2nd Edn. P.269, 1960, Publications Division

[19]       Ed. R.K. Prabhu, Truth is God, 1955

[19]       Navajivan, 14-3-1920

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.43, p. 14

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.73, p.304

[19]       An Autobiography or the Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, 1927, p.551

[19]       Malayala Manorama Daily, Cochin edn., 2008 Oct. 10, p.9

[19]       Paul Manalil & L.I. Justin Raj, ‘Madhyama Nireekhshaman’, Christava Sahitya Samiti, Thiruvalla, p.36

[19]       The Economic Times, 3rd March 2010, ‘Brand Equity’ p.3

[19]       Young India, 18 June 1925

[19]       Young India, 4 April 1929

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House Ahmmedabad, Vol XXXI, P.330

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 26, p. 52

[19]       Young India, 16-3-1921, p. 81

[19]       Mahadev Desai, ‘Gandhiji in Indian Vilalges’, S. Ganesan, Madras, 1927, p.170

[19]       Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, Ed. Authony J. Parel, Cambridge Texts in Modern Politics. Cambridge University Press p .33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER – VI

GANDHIJI’S PROPHETIC VISION ON JOURNALISM

Mahatma Gandhi was an embodiment of all human virtues and the world looked up to him for guidance in every crisis.  He was simple, truthful, selfless and worked to shape a social order free from exploitation.  So the world would need Gandhiji for centuries to come. Here we are constrained to confine the discussion to Gandhiji’s journalistic experiments. The values and ideals advocated by him are no less relevant today. They are most likely to attain new dimensions to suit the needs of a changing world but they will endure as long as man continues to dream of an ideal world justice combined with love and compassion reigns supreme.

Watsonian behaviourism of 1912 underwent a change as a result of experimentation of neo behaviourists like Thorndike, Guthire, Skinner and Hull, Psychoanalysis of Freud resulted in neo-freudiam thought after the contributions of Eric Burn, Thomas Haris, Eric Fromm, Anna Freud and Ronald Laying Classical gestalt theory of Koffka, Kohler and Werthemir got a new form, thanks to the contributions of neo-journalists like Kurt Lewin and Tolman. Dalton Atomic Theory got modified and gave way to modern atomic theory owing to Avogadro’s Hypothesis. It seems that Gandhian thought too is undergoing such a metamorphosis and the classical Gandhian thought is developing into a neo Gandhian thought at the global level, especially in the field of journalism. At the social level Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Jayaprakash Narayan, Baba Amte… etc.,  have been the torch-bearers of Gandhian ideology.  Such a development in journalism is not only welcome but also inevitable.

When Gandhi did his journalistic experiments India had been under colonial rule for four and a half centuries. Economy, culture, art, business, judiciary, administration and philosophies were all shaped on imported theories. Now we have been free for 63 years. The problems such as population explosion, environmental destruction and social discrimination still continue to impede natural progress and prosperity. Here lies the relevance of Gandhiji’s prophetic voice. We could not attain the fruits of independence fully because of the afore-said problems. So we need a ‘second independence struggle’. There Gandhi could lead us invisibly and indirectly. Journals and journalists have the responsibility to stay a leading role in this struggle. Gandhi has showed us that ‘media is the message’. It is necessary to evaluate Mahatma Gandhi in a holistic manner, the way he himself saw Vinoba. Those who uncritically followed Gandhiji years ago feel unhappy perhaps because they might be unable to understand the new context and the needs and situations of the hour and the ways and means to meet them.

How did Gandhi attain this journalistic height? It was mainly due to the harmony in his thought, word and action. The complete transparency in his revolutionary way of life was steeped in the principle of satyagraha. We have made divisions of morality as well as of life doing great injustice his legacy. At least now Gandhiji’s Philosophy of life should awaken us and goad us to work for the common good. Gandhiji’s contribution to numerous spheres of life is so great that it is not possible for us to talk about him without reverence.[19]

The main characteristics of Indian culture are simplicity perseverance, patience, frugality and otherworldliness. But the westerners are enterprising, impatient, engrossed in multiplying their material wants and in satisfying them. Gandhi could synchronize the virtues of these two streams of culture. This is why Gandhi got so many followers both in the east and in the west. Gandhi is internationally known as a pacifist, activist, revolutionary, saint, shrewd politician, non conformist etc. All these appellations while expressing the depth and breadth of his multifaceted personality perhaps overshadow the title – a great journalist. Gandhi attain this title without competition, anger, violence or hatred. So Albert Einstein exclaimed that “Generations to come it may be, will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”[19]

As Girilal Jain rightly pointed out, “News and views now tend to seen as editorial material thrown in between advertisements as if to break the monotony and to hook on the reader. This cannot but affect adversely the status of journalists, however exalted a view they may have of their calling and role.”[19]  In India we are far behind the so called countries in this regard. But again, the trend in that direction is obvious enough. So it is the right time for us to listen the voice of Mahatma Gandhi.

Article 1.    About Misuse of the Forth Estate

Shri. C. Rajagopalachari once said, “I want you to look upon journalism as an art and not as an industry. Journalists are like painters and poets rather than factory workers. They are really creating the works of art… Whatever may be your difficulties, whatever your internal pains and travails, you must look upon what you produce as productive, creative art.[19] This is a good guideline against the misuse of the fourth estate. Today, the press is misused by so many people in so many ways.

The press is a corrective force, unfortunately today, it becomes a corruptive force. Media persons must aware of this. The privileges of the press are valuable. It is given by the public. So the primary responsibility of press persons is to serve the public. A good report must help to correct a politician, a writer or even a judge. At the same time the press must always be ready to self criticism.

Directly or indirectly today many persons misuse the press. Planting news purposely with vested interests is one of such problems. To avoid this, journalists must strictly obey the principles and ethics of journalism. Check and cross-check the news items is an ultimate necessary. Accuracy and fairness of news is only attained through this pre-publication verification. Journalists must take caution against defamatory writings. Parameters of the right of the press to comment on acts and conduct of public officials must be strictly followed. The right of privacy of individuals must be respected. Newspaper should not pass on or elevate conjecture, speculation or comment as a statement of fact. All these categories should be distinctly identified.

In crime reporting, Newspapers should eschew suggestive guilt by association. They should not name or identify the family or relatives or associates of a person convicted or accused of a crime, when they are totally innocent and a reference to them is not relevant to the matter being reported. It is contrary to the norms of journalism for a paper to identify itself with and project or promote the case of any one party in the case of any controversy or dispute.

Gandhiji considered the premature publication of news indirectly obtained by means, not always straight, ought not to be the function of journalists. “I know that the newspaper said to be the greatest in the world makes it a boast to publish news which the keepers are most anxious often in the public interest to withhold for the time being….. I know that mine is a voice in wilderness, though I speak with the authority of an unbroken experience of practical journalism for over twenty years. Successful conducting of four weeklies can be regarded as such. I would warn fellow journalist against copying the English method of obtaining and publishing news. Let them study my original method which was introduced long before I became a Mahatma and before I had acquired  any status of importance in the public life of India.”[19]  Gandhi was against to increase tastes. As a product newspaper also addicts us to an extent. It was against to Gandhi’s approach. He said that if we are not addicted to tea, there will be more forests today. Birds and animals get more food. Journalism is also like this. Making addict to tastes is against to Gandhism. He always insisted on that journalists must show self-restraint responsibility.

Gandhi ignores the marketing side of the newspapers – both circulation wise and advertisement wise. So we cannot compare directly today’s journals with Gandhiji’s journals. Today’s media world is a world of business. Even then the principles put forward by Gandhiji is important. Today internet is used as newspapers for attaining news. Then also the basic principles of Gandhian journalism is important.

Gandhi was against to sensationalism as well as trivialisation of news. Today newspapers are doing both these as a regular practice. Simplifying a news item which is in serious nature is called trivialization. Some newspapers are not giving serious items. Even if they give them, it will be simplifying to increase readability. Gandhi had an openness to write and publish truth. He was against to all kinds of derailment in journalism. But when journalism become a business, the main aim become the selling out of the commodity. Newspaper becomes a consumeristic product in the consumeristic society. This is a derailment for newspapers.

Today journalism is a corrective science. There are so many trends which are desirable in this field. These positive trends must be promoted. They must also be acknowledged. At the same time some journalists are now deviating from the perspective and objectives of it. Here the common reader become in between the devil and the deep sea. Here we got guidance from the Gandhian path. Before independence he was the most influential Indian journalist. He gave the examples of good journalism through four weeklies. He was in the filed for sixty years. Today, Gandhi was no more; and so Gandhian journalism also.

(i)      Giving False Information

Gandhi was utterly against giving false information through newspapers. In Gandhi’s conception of journalism, there was no room for sensational scoops. He said, there are occasions when a journalist serves his profession best by his science’. Gandhi’s commitment was for truth.[19] Gandhi never wrote anything only for creating an impression and carefully avoided exaggeration. His aim was to serve truth, to educate people and to be useful to the country.

Gandhi was able to edit his journals in the midst of his other activities secures a miracle. Most of his articles, even those which made up his autobiography, were written during short intervals between two engagements; some were written in moving trains because it was more important for the manuscript to be dispatched from a particular station so that it was in Ahmedebad at the right time for printing. It was sometimes a race against time. One wonders how articles written by Gandhi in such circumstances could turnout to be at once so powerful and truthful. An American scholar, Philips Talbot, who stayed in the ashram at Sevagram for a few days in 1941. Describes the scene after lunch: Gandhi was lying on a mat, Kasturba was massaging his feet while he was dictating to Mahadev.

Extolling the qualities and expectations of an editor Gandhi was clear that even when a newspaper writes something that displeases the government, which is nonetheless true, the editor should not apologise. He was categorical in stating that if a newspaper were to run into difficulties as a consequence of publishing truth it should rather close down than buckle. This he felt was a better service to the public. Gandhi knew that facts or what passes as facts was only impressions or estimates of things and estimates vary. Therefore we may get different versions of the same event. To him, journalism meant not to stock the public mind with wanted and unwanted impressions. Journalists have to use their discretion in what to report and when. Given the control in which there were attempts to muzzle the press, Gandhi believed in freedom of the press. This was a matter of giving expression to public opinion.

Gandhi lamented about journalism as a profession and he was disturbed by the practices of at least a few journalists of his time. He pointed out that in India ‘whoever fails to find a better occupation takes to journalism provided he can scribble.’ These observations he stated were based on his reading of certain language journals. He therefore, felt that editors had great responsibility and wanted them to confer in order to impose certain restraints on the profession. Gandhi brought the highest qualities of the profession and could boast of courage in the face of adversity, unswerving adherence to truth, pursuit of public causes, and objectivity in presentation. The journals of Gandhi were ‘a mirror of his own life’. In the Story of My Experiments with Truth, he wrote, “Week after week I poured out my soul in its columns and expounded the principles and practice of satyagraha as a I understood it. I cannot recall a word in these articles set down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely to please. Indeed, the journal became for me training in self-restraint and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts”.

According to Mahatma Gandhi’s assessment of the newspapers of his time the mode of functioning was not in any way helpful to his crusade. He found them commercial, afraid of the government and dishonest in reporting. His last word on the Indian newspapers came at a prayer meeting in Delhi on June 19, 1946. He said: “If I were appointed dictator for a day in the place of the viceroy, I would stop all newspapers”. He paused and added with a mischievous wink: “With the exception of Harijan, of course.”

Gandhi was considered as an ethical journalist. The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism and journalistic organizations today was followed by Gandhi far before. While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability – as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public. Gandhi concentrated on this. He considered professional integrity as the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Reporting the truth is never libel, which makes accuracy very important. At the same time giving false information is a crime.

As with other ethical codes, there is a perennial concern that the standards of journalism are being ignored. One of the most controversial issues in modern reporting is media bias, especially on political issues, but also with regard to cultural and other issues. Sensationalism is also a common complaint. Minor factual errors are also extremely common, as almost anyone who is familiar with the subject of a particular report will quickly realize. There are also some wider concerns, as the media continue to change, for example that the brevity of news reports and use of sound bites has reduced fidelity to the truth and may contribute to a lack of needed context for public understanding.

Audience have different reactions to depictions of violence, nudity, coarse language, or to people in any other situation that is unacceptable to or stigmatized by the local culture or laws (such as the consumption of alcohol, homosexuality, illegal drug use, scatological images etc.)Even with similar audiences, different organisations and even individual reporters have different standards and practices. These decisions often revolve around what facts are necessary for the audience to know. Gandhi was a man of action. Gandhi without action is meaningless. Gandhi’s truth is utterly different from ordinary truth. His works are more powerful than his words. He believed the man is multi dimensional. So he insisted on that we must use heart, head and hand before any action. This includes his method of journalistic action also. Gandhi knew that truth will prevail. He showed this by his method of direct action. This is the philosophic cause which he talk his ardent stand against giving false information through journals. A great degree of altruism is inherent and imbedded in this approach. This truthful approach is very important for a person who believe that there are some values which are higher than our body.

(ii)     Butchering Independent Thinking

Gandhi said, ‘the newspapers should be read for the study of facts. They should not be allowed to kill the habit of independent thinking.’ Mahatma Gandhi’s speech during his visit to ‘The Hindu’ sums up his philosophy and vision of journalism: “I have, therefore, never been tried of reiterating to journalists whom I know that journalism should never be prostituted for selfish ends or for the sake of merely earning a livelihood or, worse still, for amassing money. Journalism, to be useful and serviceable to the country, will take its definite, its best for the service of the country and whatever happens, the views of the country irrespective of consequences. I think that we have in our midst the making of newspapers which can do so”.

It is an age which newspapers are creating news artificially. News and views are making with selfish motives to increase the popularity of the papers. This type of manipulations will destroy both the independent thinking capacity of the reader and the credibility of the newspaper. At the same time the newspapers are taking partisan approach to the consumers having high purchasing power. Fashion shows and theme weddings taking more time and space of the media. The problems of the society especially that of the common people ignored. The power of collective and independent thinking will be lost as a result. Today the media in India is facing mediocrity. There is no scope for excellence. Gandhi foreseen this danger and said, there is no scope for excellence in journalism. The great journalists like Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Pyne, John Reed, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar etc. influence the thought process of the society with the help of their mighty pen. Today the journalistic field is tremendously changed. The field become more advanced and technology based. But the basic principle that the media influence the thought process of the individual and the society is more prevalent today. It is an urgent necessary to grow the minds of media persons as well as technology. Otherwise it will be a danger.

‘Executive’ is supervised by the ‘legislative’. Judiciary discusses the merits and demerits of these two estates. But fourth estate is analysing all these three. So it is more powerful and popular. To collect analyses and distribute reports is easier today. But these reports and information become vain if the media does not arouse desirable attitudes. Undoubtedly the power of the media is growing. But the responsibility is not growing proportionally. Many media killing independent thinking, by giving irresponsible news and views. The views of reporters and media owners imbibed in each news item in each newspaper. Then the reader got only distorted view. This also led to the killing of independent thinking.

It is welcome sign that most people now do not believe everything they read. This realization also helps the process of diversification in the media field. The media must also be ready to correct whenever any report is later found to incorrect. Sensationalism attract common readers to a large extent. But that will, in the long run, kill the habit of serious thinking. The power to know and inform things is the strength of the media. This strength is not recognized today. Decentralisation and localization of news was the straw that broke the camel’s back. But even then the habit of reading and the capability to analyse or criticize the media is existing. It is good for the society. Though this popular observation is prevailing, the newspapers are sometimes going to the channel of unwanted approaches vested interests, hidden agenda, the pressure from the side of media owners, financial reasons….. etc are the cause of this. This will destroy the opinion making capacity of the media.  Authenticity and credibility will lost. Gandhi, C.P. Scott, Harold Ivans etc., criticised this adamantly. They belived that the newspapers must have the power of ethics and principles. It must prevail moral values. As Mr. Sasikumar, founder Asianet Malayalam Channel, pointed out media activity is a cultural movement. When it become a business it will become artificial. Then it will kill independent thinking[19].

Creating wrong news and publishing it is neither good nor wise to the society. There is a saying among the American paparasies that if you give us a pen full of ink and mindful of poison we will destroy anyone. This is the wrong path. Any journalist who has social commitment can not accept this approach. The news must arise the minds of readers. News items must not be information packets. Otherwise it will kill independent thinking and so both national and personal development. Successful communication will give information, interpretation (views) and entertainment at the same time.

Article 2.  Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press is based on the freedom of the people to know. Right to information, speech and expression….etc are also part of this. This right is considered as a privilege in almost all countries. Gandhi, Nehru, Jafferson…etc. gave their views on press freedom firmly. Gandhi was human and humane. He relentlessly fought against injustices and inequality. He was a great liberator of mankind. He gave a new philosophy to his nation and to mankind. He was a lover of truth and justice, fighter for freedom and inherent rights of the individual, advocates the democracy and purity of public life. Gandhi served his country and through it humanity at large and left an indelible impress on the course of human history.

Gandhi said, the highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility can not be denied; unbridled licence is a sign of vulgarity, injurious alike to self and one’s neighbours.[19] Gandhi was a great fighter of freedom as well as an educationist. He considered journalism also as mass education. He said, “According to me, real education consists in learning the art of thinking. If we can master it, everything else will follow in beautiful order”.[19]

Gandhi insisted that if Press Freedom is violated, the people must protest strongly against it even by undergoing satyagraha, for the freedom of the Press is vital to the success of democracy.  Even if it involves great sacrifices, it is worth the trouble because it is better to die as a free citizen than to live as a slave. Gandhi did not mean that the newspapers should be given licence to write what they liked. Press liberty must have certain restrictions. But these restrictions must be decided upon by journalists and editors themselves. They must follow certain self-imposed control. Gandhi believed that ‘freedom, has always had many limits.’[19]

Gandhi was rising his sound in the 11th chapter of ‘Hind Swaraj’ by saying that restricting the freedom of the press is injustice.[19] Right to know is considered as a basic human right by him. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. So Gandhi advocated the press for this vigilance. To him, it was a part of basic human rights and civil liberty. An editor has the right to select matters for publishing in a newspaper. This freedom must not be restricted either by government or by media owner. Even if the government dislikes the liberties taken by the press and considers them dangerous, it is wrong to interfere with the press. A completely free press with all the dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or a regulated press. “The liberty of the press is a dear privilege, apart from the advisability or otherwise of civil disobedience”, Gandhi wrote.[19]

Gandhi emphasized the great importance and the immeasurable potency of the individual in society. The society should accept his freedom and moral autonomy. Man is the maker of his own destiny in the sense that he has the freedom of choice as to the manner in which he uses his freedom.”[19] Denial or deprivation of individual freedom is contrary to the very nature of man. In the Gandhian line of thinking, the individual’s status as a human being is prior to his position as a member of society or as a citizen of some state. Gandhi’s notion of the presence of God in man amounts to a belief that man has free will, reason, conscience and love.[19] It is in the individual level. In the social level Gandhi considered, civil liberty is the breath of political and social life, and it includes freedom of the press.[19] He explains, Civil liberty includes freedom of the press and freedom to read newspaper which do not promote violence.[19]

During the entire period of the freedom struggle, one could see that the British Government tried to control and curtail the freedom of speech and expression of the press. “If one has no affection for a person or system, one should be free to give the fullest expression to his disaffection so long as he does not contemplate, promote or incite violence.”[19] Administrative interference with the liberty of the press under a law that is under promise of repeal be regarded as anything but repression.[19] Gandhi’s non-violent action was directed towards safeguarding the elementary rights of free speech, free association and free press. Gandhi wrote, ‘Every state has the right to put down violence by force, but to suppress expression of opinion in order to prevent the spread of disaffection is repression.[19] There should be freedom of opinion and public opinion has to be respected. The indispensable condition for the success of a cause is that “we encourage the greatest freedom of opinion and public opinion has to be respected. The indispensable condition for the success of a cause is that, “We encourage the greatest freedom of opinion.”[19]

Almost all developed countries consider the right to information act as sacred. The free society of Sweden, Canada, U.S.A. and Australia has evolved as a result of such an act. To enforce this law U.S.A. alone spends 60 billion dollar per year. Such a law is inevitable to ensure press freedom and to fulfill democratic rights. The rights to information and various human rights acts ensure the freedom of the press in the modern society. Gandhi foresightedly wrote, ‘freedom of the press is a precious privilege that no country can forego.’ [19]

 

 

(i)   Media’s Role in a Democratic Country

Media plays a vital role in any democratic country. Creating opinion among the people and carrying the information back to the policy makers is the duty of the media. To inform, to interpret, to evaluate, to educate, to conscientise, to entertain, to inspire and to create opinion are considered as the major roles of media. Media will made a vigilant society and it will join various groups of people. To empower a democratic system and to ensure communal harmony are the other roles of media. Media activity is a kind of informal education. For this, media persons should keep intellectual truthfulness and justifiable analysis. Moral principles and dharmic principles must be propagated by the media. Media giving emotional news items to propagate good feelings in the society. Our national leaders, especially Gandhiji played the major role in this. The progress in education helped the progress in media literacy. But at the same time the devaluation in every walk of life affects the media field also. Social, cultural and educational growth of the society is directly related to the information spreading power of media. But today media is giving more importance to entertainments. This is a degradation. Gandhi was against this. He was also against to all kinds of mind polluting activities which the media practicing today. “Our holiest temple is our body. We should take care not to let it be infected with any impurity from outside. We should not sully the purity of the mind with evil thoughts.”[19] So media has the duty to create better society by creating better individuals. Now we are becoming the members of a global community. The traditional systems are replaced by modern system in a tremendous speed. These cultural changes and media is inter-related. Modernisation results value changes. This change is seen in the history of India even from the period of the Birtishers. Foreigners introduced new printing units in Kerala. The people of Kerala had a unique culture. We use westernisation in a different democratic participatory process and practice. This shows a good example of the influence of the media in the society.

Gandhi considered the upliftment of the poor as one of the duties of his journals. He wrote, “Daridranarayana is one of the millions of names by which humanity knows God who is unnameable and unfathomable by human understanding, and it means God of the poor, God appearing in the hearts of the poor.”[19]  Again, in the opinion of Gandhi, service of the poor is not one among the ways, but the only way to worship and love God. Gandhi cannot find any higher way of worshipping God than by serving the poor and identifying himself with them.

The Media has the duty to propagate satyagrahas and other means of protests against social evils. At the time of freedom struggle, the breach of salt laws was reported by the media around the world. In that time the Journalism in India was a tool of the freedom struggle. But in free India it becomes a profession. Media become the fourth estate. So media should fulfil the role of the fourth estate and professionals should search for journalistic heights and excellence. The presentation of news must be factual. The professionals must not go for libertarian freedom. The press freedom must be self-restricted and use with social responsibility. Hachin’s commission explained this as the factual, matter-of-fact, integrated presentation of news. Gandhi also had the opinion that the mass media must be the platform of expression of opinions and criticism. The media must be a corrective force. The values of the society must be preserved. At the same time the various opinions must be expressed.[19]

The role of media in fighting for social welfare and justice is accepted and appreciated in almost all developed countries. In America, the ‘American Society of Newspaper editors’ published ‘the canon of Journalism’ in 1923. This underlined the above said responsibility of the media. In Kerala, the first Malayalam Daily ‘Nazrani Deepika’ declared about this in its first editorial published on 15th April, 1887. But today the media is deviating from fulfilling its role.

For Gandhi, no man was too mean to be loved or trusted for even the lowest of the low represented the lord in his own way. Like the poet, he also would say, “My path is with the pathless and my tract with the tactless”[19] The alertness and virtuousness on the part of the people will act as an automatic check on the government to public opinion

(ii)  Remedy for Commercialisation of Newspapers

Gandhi giving the guidelines to Urdu Navajivan as, “Dr. Yadhvir Singh has been, on his own responsibility, issuing at Delhi, a weekly Urdu edition of ‘Navajivan’ containing his selections from both ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Young India.’ He assures me that the Urdu edition will be conducted strictly along the lines of Young India and Navajivan. It will accordingly have no advertisements and will publish only such material as appears in the two weeklies. The annual subscription is only three rupees. I have always felt that Urdu knowing people should know the message of these weeklies. I hope Dr. Yudhvir Singh will be encouraged by the Urdu knowing public.”[19] Here we can see Gandhi’s attitude towards newspapers. To him, journalism is a means of mass education. Education is a kind of liberation from all sorts of bonds. He said that slavery is of two types: internal and external. The bondage of power is external slavery. The internal slavery is the bondage of man to artificial wants and necessities. So, to Gandhi, commercialisation of newspapers is unjustifiable. He lived in a period when the newspapers gave advertisements fully in the first page. Then Gandhi avoid the advertisements absolutely. Gandhi found the newspaper of his time as commercial, afraid of the government and not truthful in reporting. He believed like Rubecca West, “a community needs news, for the same reason, that a man needs eyes. It has to see where it is going.”  Today the newspapers are becoming more commercial, both circulation wise and advertisement wise. The editorial content is also tending to be more commercial. As a result of this the influence of the papers decreased. For the run for commercial success the values and journalistic principles are ignored.[19]

We saw that Gandhi considerd journalism neither as a profession nor as a business. To him it was a service and a sacred duty. He was not profit motive. Gandhi feared that if the media become profit motive that will affect the political thinking itself. Gandhi, Nehru, Patel, Tilak and Shri Aurobimdo empower the millions of people with the help of their mighty pen. India was a land where words are considered as ‘manthras’. Words are the symbols of “Brahma”. So in this sacred land, commercialization of news is not justifiable. The history of the struggle of India for freedom is also the story of the great Indian newspapers. Such a story is unique in the history of the world. Gandhi used his dailies for empowering Indian nationalism. He could find the soul of this country. He taught us that media should stand for national integration instead of stand for commercial tug of war.

Gandhiji believed that, “What morally wrong will never be correct in any other way.”[19] But today, the society changed very much. There are so many malpractices for attaining money. Society become more industrialized as well as commercialized. The consumerist tendency prevailed in the society. Newspapers are also changed along with this. Advertisements are now become essential part of newspapers. If we avoid the advertisements fully, the price of the newspaper becomes very high. Even then, the advertisements must have certain norms and conditions. It must not overcome the limits of moral and ethical codes.

Now media is a big business. But Gandhi believed in the principle of ‘Small is beautiful’.  News paper industry is now related to many other industries directly or indirectly. Some media owners themselves are the owners of many other industries. This will decreasing the credibility, truthfulness, balance of opinion and impartiality. Gandhi, like Ben Bugdickian gave the dangers of this in his writings. The centralisation of ownership and the purposeful repetition of hidden agendas are harmful to the society. Media activities are based on social science theories and principles. Communication may affect the society in many ways. It will create new thought both desirable and undesirable. It will create new trends, tendencies and tastes. It will also led us to new wants. So the over commercialization of the media must be remedied. Gandhi foreseen that it is necessary for social progress, non violence, justice, truthfulness and mutual respect among persons.

(iii)    Press Laws and Limitations of the Press

In India most of the press laws are developed in the spirit of Gandhian philosophy and ideology. Truth is considered as one of the cardinal vows of Gandhian thought. The press laws also underlines the importance of truth. Gandhi was a lawyer in his life for about 20 years. It also helped him to develop good ethical standards for journalism. He said that the law and lawgiver are one.[19] “The law is God. Anything attributed to Him is not a mere attribute. He is Truth, love, law and a million things that human ingenuity can name”[19]

The wholistic knowledge on law is not needed to common journalists. But the total ignorance of law is very dangerous. If a journalist knows press laws he got several practical benefits. In the history of Indian journalism we can see such examples. In 1878 the British government introduced the Vernacular Press Act. Sisir Kumar Khosh changed his Bangali daily Amrit Bazar Patrika into an English daily. This was a benefit of intellectual approach to law.

The base of press law is the right of citizens for speech and expression. This freedom was the base of press freedom. In many countries, the press laws are ensures constitutionally. But in India it included in the freedom of speech and expression. The right to information also helps the journalists to attain several information especially from the part of the government. In this age of market economy and free trade, no one can hide things for ever. This also helps the journalists to perform their duty fruitfully.

Gandhiji never considered journalism only as a profession. He said, “Journalism is not only a profession. If it become so it will be a limitation. A good editor must be a social activist. He must turn the flow of the society.”[19] Gandhiji had the opinion that the editor must show bravery to take the responsibility of whatever written is the newspaper. It may help the journalists to keep self-restraints and decipline. Public service must be the main aim of the dailies. Journalists must ignore all problems for the sake of public cause.
“A true journalist must aim at the welfare of the society. He must be a sarvodaya activist. He must propagate satyagraha.”[19]

The article written by Gandhiji on 13th March 1922 in ‘Young India’ caused the opposition of the British Government. Gandhi was arrested and jailed for sedition. This was his first arrest in India. The editor M.K. Gandhi and publisher Mr. Desai of Young India were accused. This was the first contempt of court case against Gandhiji. This case is similar to the Thalidomyde case in England. The main accusation was against the expression of opinion against court in both the case. But Gandhi took the stand that the journalist has the right to take opinion against that of the courts. He wrote it in ‘Young India’. Then the Indian press law was not admitted that. But in 2005 the Gandhian stand was approved. The stand, Truth as defence was included.

Gandhiji believed that the different editors of the same newspaper must take the same stand. He was the editor of ‘Indian Opinion’ from 1904 in South Africa. The weekly was published in English, Tamil and Gujarati. These three language editions had  the same stand and point of view. This was same for Harijan. This weekly was published in 10 Indian languages simultaneously. All these editions have the same opinion and point of view.[19]

Gandhi was against to all kinds of attack on the freedom of the press. His firm stand against the martial law shows that. Gandhi’s stand helped and influenced the Indian press council later. According to the observations of the Press Council, a journalist cannot be compelled to disclose his source of information except by a court of law, as it amounts to encroachment on the freedom of press and the people’s right to obtain information in matters relating to public interest.

While we are saying about all these laws and privileges of the press, it has certain limitation also. The present problems of pollution, population, arms race and corruption are increasing. These vices can be contained by continuous cultivation of positive attitudes, moral values and ethics through the practice of spiritual wisdom. Media men should also give equal importance to publish good and positive news and should take up their profession with missionary zeal to develop social and moral values in self and society. The media person are not at all working for the restoration of moral social and spiritual values in society. But media cannot do this alone without popular support of public against corrupt politicians, administration and systems. This is another limitation of the press. Society itself is not free from bias and prejudices and is incapable of protecting media men from victimisation. Cooperation from local administration is also lacking. Under these circumstances role of media people can’t be fool proof unless proper support and inputs are given to media men at local level.

Media men need some soul-searching today to improve the image of the profession, which has degraded from a noble mission to a  profit-oriented business concern owing to the incursion of corruption, consumerism, politics, police and bureaucratic pressures.

Article 3.  Media and the Society

Gandhiji had a good vision about the society. He gave great importance to the creation of public opinion. He said, ‘Public opinion alone can keep a society pure and healthy.’[19]  To him one of the main duties of media is opinion creation.

“Society is sustained by several services. The ‘bhangi’ (beauty) constitutes the foundation of all services.”[19] Gandhi again explained this by saying that ‘willing submission to social restraint for the sake of the well-being of the whole society enriches both the individual and the society of which he is a member.’[19]

Gandhi was projecting positive ideas through his writings. He knew that differences of opinion were inevitable in a living society.[19] Media men should stop negative thinking and should have positivity in their attitude, expression and actions to guide people and society into a state or condition. The prevailing atmosphere of fear, anxiety, tension and insecurity the role and responsibility of media men need a spiritual overhauling of their mind set and attitude to spread the message of peace, discipline honesty, simplicity, health and harmony in the society. There are no dearth of values and goodness in present society but they have been veiled by vested interests of powerful people like politicians and administrators. All sections of society including media should take up the responsibility to work in consonance for building a better world by eliminating the negative elements.

Media man should highlight Indian culture, ethos, values and tradition and should discourage the evil spells of foreign culture and lifestyle which have spoiled our younger generation. Media men should take their profession as a sacred mission, as a service to the society in the spirit of freedom fight from all negativity, vested interests and influence of foreign culture to regenerate India to its height of morality and spiritual wisdom. Media men should not despair and loose hope on the face of antagonistic forces and factors obstructing their creative and free expressions but should continue to work for social, cultural, moral and spiritual transformation of society in spite of repeated failures and setbacks. Creative awareness among media persons is inevitable to bring out qualitative change in their thinking, outlook, vision, values and lifestyles.

Gandhiji was very much aware of the injustices against to women and weaker sections in the society. He rouse his voice for equality of women in the society from his South African days. Welfare of Harijans and removal of untouchability was his crusade in India. He fought against communalism. He was against to all kinds of yellow journalism. All these are the duties of media even today.

Today we are observing the advertisement culture everywhere in the society. Gandhi was fully against to all kinds of advertisements. As the famous American publisher says, News is what someone wants to stop you printing, all the rest is advertisement. Gandhi was in the side of news and views. For increasing the circulation, the media is converting the women body into a consumer product. No media is trying to the empowerment of women. So the society also.

The media must strongly advocate for the protection of environment. Environmental education is the duty of the press.  In many countries, the green press is engaged in conscientising the public against environmental degradation. In India, in 1973, the media gave wide coverage to the Chipco movement for the protection of environment. In Kerala the press seems to reluctant to take us such issues for fear of hostility are from a small but powerful lobby.  Some media persons entertain the wrong notion that environmental protection will stipple developmental activities. Some others exaggerate the environmental issues to sensational dimension. Both these approaches are harmful to the society.

Today the media obits in the creation of a   consumer culture in the society. Common people easily become victims of this culture. The power of communication is a great boon given by God to the human race. This must be used only for constructive and creative purposes. Man has the responsibility to use this unique skill of communication for the well-being of all sections of the society. We should keep in mind the great vision of the Rishis ‘Vasudhaiva Kudumbakom’ (The whole universe is a family)

If the media choose a wrong path, concerted corrective action will be inevitable. In America, when the media started giving wrong information, the readers resisted it through a movement called ‘Fair’. They exposed each and every false news as and when they appear in newspapers which forced the media to give up the practice. The peaceful agitation ensured the accuracy of news. People learned to approach news with a judicious mind. As a result of the influence of this movement, newspaper giants like The New York Times, and the Wall Street journal became highly cautious about their news publication. This is a good example of the power of collective reaction to a media malpractice.

(i)      Women and Social Injustices

Gandhi had great consideration on the role of women in the society. He was against to all kinds of social injustices against women. He wrote, “From being man’s co-equal, co-sharer and helpmate, she became his subordinate or rather slave, to be used at will for satisfying his wants, with no rights or will of her own.”[19]. In working for the emancipation of women, Gandhi’s motto was the equality of the sexes. To him both men and women are complementary to each other. “Languages proclaim that woman is half of man and by party of reasoning man is half of woman. They are not two separate entities, but halves of one. The English language goes further and calls woman the better half of  man.”[19] Here we can observe Gandhi’s keen observation on language also. This was a good quality for a real journalist.

Gandhiji wrote in Harijan, “Man should learn to give place to women and a country or a community in which women are not honoured cannot be considered as civilized.”[19] Unfortunately, even today women are ignored by men in many fields. The media also is degrading the women in many ways. Gandhi’s views own feminism is realistic. Though Gandhi stood for the equality of the sexes, he was not in favour of equality of occupation, because man and women were equal but not identical.[19] Gandhi undoubtedly played a pivotal role in the changing status of women in early twentieth century India. He was a strong advocate of women’s rights in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Moreover, his successful call to women to join the nationalist movement served as a catalyst for the wider participation of women in public affairs”. Gandhi’s position on women’s issues was based on two fundamental concepts: equality between the sexes and differentiation of their social roles. The positions taken by Gandhi on most women’s issues, with the exception of the use of artificial means of birth control, were remarkably similar to those leading women reformers of the period.”[19]

Gandhi’s advocacy of traditional female’s roles for women was therefore in harmony. With his own overall philosophical view, women are equal to men, but different. He believed that women have a special contribution to make to satyagraha. Between 1920 and 1940 Gandhi gradually came to advocate a greatly expanded role for women in public affairs. The participation of women in picketing liquor shops and strikes against sellers of foreign cloth must be appreciated.

According to Gandhi, Women have a special contribution to make to humanity as the embodiment of ahimsa which would be lost by initiating man’s ways. He said: “She can run the race but she will not rise to the heights she is capable of by mimicking man.” [19]

Gandhi opposed the custom of child marriage. It may cause early widowhood. This was the cause of his protest. Gandhi was an ardent supporter of compulsory education for girls as well as boys. In his Basic National Education Scheme elaborated in 1937, Gandhiji proposed free and compulsory education for children of both sexes from ages 7 to 14.

Gandhi’s strong advocacy of social reform to liberate women cannot be seen as a revolutionary doctrine aimed at a  radical change of the core institutions of Indian society. But there is evidence that he was aware of female subordination deeply ingrained in the very fabric of society. Gandhi believed that the search for truth through non-violent resistance is particularly suited for women. He also believed that satyagraha is a true remedy for the problems of women as well as those of the society as a whole. Emancipation of women was a great contribution of Gandhi to Hinduism. “Gandhi could not even think that a religion which commanded love for others could approve such injustices, towards women.”[19] Gandhi wrote continually on women’s issues in his publications. At the same time he was not a blind feminist. He wrote, “My own opinion is that, just as fundamentally man and women are one, their problem must be one in essence.[19] Gandhi gave practical guidelines for women to line fearlessly in the society. “Parents and husbands should instruct women in the art of becoming fearless. It can best be learnt from a living faith in God. He who has this faith is the most fearless of all.[19]

Gandhi considered women as the incarnation of tolerance. He admits it in his autobiography also.[19] Gandhi purposefully involved women in his satyagraha struggles. Some times Gandhi allowed lady doctors to nurse him during the fast.[19] Gandhi also wrote that, the division of the spheres and culture required are practically the same for both the sexes. Woman will occupy her proud position by the side of man as his mother, maker and silent leader.[19]

In Kerala, women’s magazines could participate in the process of social change. The content analysis of women’s magazines shows that the old magazines were not actuated by profit motive. They fought against sati, dowry system, child marriage and all other atrocities committed against women in those days. Gandhian monuments in the state gave energy to these magazines. Today, the magazines for women are in a race behind fashion, sex, cooking and cinema. They are not even touching the real problems of women. Media in general is also not giving justice to women. Sometimes, women themselves are questioning this approach. It is a ray of hope.

There is another problem of inequality in the media arena regarding the situation of women. Some media are purposefully damaging the image of women. Both in news and in advertisements women are portrait as a consumerist product. Some publications are increasing their circulation by choosing this way. Not only the newspaper establishments, but also the advertisement companies are exploiting the women. They are trivialising the women’s issues and consider them as a commodity. The general public are not even realizing the danger in it. Here lies the importance of Gandhiji’s words.

(ii)     Upliftment of Harijans and Removal of Untouchability

The name of one of Gandhiji’ publication was ‘Harijan’. That clearly shows that the question of the upliftment of Harijan was upper most in his mind. Gandhi endeavored ceaselessly to identify himself with the lowliest strata of the society and its neglected segments more specially the Harijan who were considered to be the dregs of Indian society. To the Mahatma, the whole world was his family, irrespective of any distinctions of caste, creed, colour or country. Gandhi fought against untouchability because it is detrimental to the good of humanity as a whole. “And in pursuing this universal goal, I discovered years ago that untouchability as it is practiced today among Hindus, as a hindrance not only to the march of Hindus towards their own good, but also a hindrance to the general good of all.”[19]

Therefore, by removing untouchability, Gandhi wanted to establish the brotherhood of man. “And remember too, the magnificent result that we intend, or we expect, to achieve from this removal of untouchability, it is not less than the realization of the brotherhood of man.”[19] This brotherhood was not only of Hindus, not only for the Indians but of the whole world. Today we are propagating universal brotherhood as one of the goals of world media. Gandhi was a great man who believed and stand for universal brother hood far before. “I for one, shall not be satisfied until, as the result of this movement, we have arrived at a heart-unity amongst all the different races and communities inhabiting this land, and it is for that reason that I have invited the cooperation of all the people living in India and even outside.”[19] Gandhiji said that fight against untouchability was motivated by love as it was meant to realize the universal brotherhood of man.

At the same time, Gandhi was interested in using coercion in removing this social injustice. He asked, “It is a sacred mission. Can one serve a sacred cause by adopting satan’s methods?”[19] Gandhi himself many a time resorted to fasts unto death for this cause, and he was even prepared to sacrifice his life in the process of removing this blata at social evil. R.C. Zaehner pays glittering tribute to Gandhi for this achievement: “His campaign against untouchablity fired the conscience of India. He knew that violence cannot be conquered by violence, but only by its opposite.”[19] One of the greatest religious reformations of Gandhi was the upliftment of the poor and the forsaken people in India. It was a sacred mission fulfilled with courage and commitment. He himself declared that is was the love of the people which induced him to work against untouchability.[19]

Gandhi considered untouchability as a hytra-headed monster. God never made man that he may consider another man as an untouchable.[19]  He said that the removal of untouchability is one of the highest expressions of ahimsa. He also regard untouchability as such a grave sin as to warrant Devine chastisement. “My fight against untouchability is a fight against the impure in humanity,” He said.[19] No other Indian journalist, like Gandhi make his pen as a sword against untouchability so much. He wrote, “Untochability is a many-headed monster and appears in many shapes and forms, some of them so subtle as not be easily detected.”[19] In his opinion diversity in the world is neither inequality nor untouchability. He even said, ‘whilst the Bihar calamity (Earthquake disaster of Jan. 1934] damages the body, the calamity brought about by untouchability corrodes the very soul.”[19]  “For me (Gandhi) there is a vital connection between the Bihar calamity and the untouchability campaign.”[19]

Gandhi wanted the progress and welfare of the whole society. He called it ‘Sarvodaya or wholistic progress.’ He did not believe in the maximum good of the maximum number. He stood for the emancipation of the last needy poor – Antyodaya. His journalistic experiments were comprehensive enough to cover all the sections of the complex Indian society. But today, most of the journals and newspapers do not uphold the interest of the poor. They seem to have established an unholy the up with the rich and those in position of power. Most of the journalists are come from non-dalit background and are not inclined to help them. Even so, there are a few in the field which have always stood and still stand by the hopeless, helpless poor and the downtrodden. They are working as the torch-bearers of Gandhian ideals which strongly advocate sweeping changes not only in the life but also in the attitude of the dalits and other destitute who constitute a considerable portion of our population.

The enlightenment of dalit communities are not discussed in today’s newspapers. The well circulated dailies are not committed to dalit issues and their enlightenment. Some small magazines and periodicals are helping the dalits in Kerala. Indian newspapers must give more space for the issues of dalits. It is a necessity of our time. Various opinions in the society must be widely discussed in newspaper. It is a matter of media justice also. According to R.D. Parikh, today the mainstream newspapers gave 40% of space for commercial news, 20% for political and social news, 30% for entertainment, 5% for opinion creation and 5% for social reformation. This is not fruitful for the dalit community.[19] Gandhian revolutionary journalistic approach was never considering the ‘selling point’ of news. In Kerala, newspapers like, Sahodaran Ayyappan’s ‘Sahodaran’ led the dalit community to the main stream of the society. In India, Gandhiji’s ‘Harijan’ Dr. B.R.Ambedikar’s ‘Mookanayak’ other dailies like ‘Dalit Voice’, ‘Samata’, ‘Sainik Dal’, ‘Axe’ etc stood strongly for the dalits. The main stream media must gave enough space for the downtrodden brothers in the society. This is their duty. It is necessary for the preservation of the value system of the society. Gandhi prophetically foreseen this and took stand with social justice. It is absolute necessary for peaceful co-existence and harmony in the society.

(iii)    Communalism and Media

This is an age which the media gave over-importance to news items on communal issues. The duty of the media is to led men from animal nature to human nature. The newspapers are using violent language to report communal riots. This is harmful to the general society. The hatred increases. Some of the newspapers takes partisan approach in communal problems. The secular newspapers are also becoming tools in the hands of administrators and politicians. In Ayodhya and in Gujarat we saw this. The vote bank politics influence the media also.[19]

In this context an analytic study of Gandhi’s approach in this matter is quite relevant. When riots were raging from Malabar to Nao-Khali Gandhiji  came to the scene with absolute equanimity and fearlessly met the misguided mob with love and compassion. On 21st Sept. 1921, Gandhi spoke about Malabar riots at a place near Madhura. He stressed on the self control exercised by both Hindus and Muslims. He said that these communities are the children of the same God and are brothers and sisters. Some newspapers criticized Gandhiji for taking such an attitude. In ‘Young India’ he wrote: “Let us remember that we are all Indians eating Indian grain and salt, and living on the dumb Indian masses.[19]

Gandhiji considered religion as a tool for unification and harmony. To him love is the most potent weapon of religion. Gandhi was proud about Hinduism. But he was not a fanatic Hindu. He was a spiritual secularist. At the same time he was not a non-religious secularist. He followed the inner voice. He advised everyone to follow their inner voice. He practiced it in his speeches and writings. His religious approach was participatory pluralism. Religions must be different. But the path to God will be the same. In 1946, he said at Naokhali, I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, I am a Christian, I am a Parsi, as you all. Gandhi wanted religions to be there. He never wanted to avoid them. He wanted a Hindu must become a good Hindu, a Muslim to be a good Muslim…. and so on. Fellowship must be created. He wanted for religion for reconciliation, peace, brotherhood, harmony and fellowship. He wrote and advocated for inter-religious approaches. He said that there is no God higher than truth. Gandhi was a relevant answer for journalists today and tomorrow while handling communal issues. “Many persons claiming different faiths make us one and an indivisible nation. All these have an equal claim to be the nationals of India.[19] This was Gandhi’s approach. This approach is academic and practical at the same time. This shows Gandhi’s relevance was eternal. So why we say Gandhi is great, He consider that true religion and true morality are inseparably interrelated. ‘I have broadened my Hinduism by understanding all other religions.’ – Gandhi said. Like him every journalist has the responsibility to give contribution to secularism.

(iv)    Against Yellow Journalism

Yellow journalism, also known as ‘yellow press’ is a type of journalism that down plays legitimate news in favour of eye-catching headlines for boosting sale. In short it is biased opinion, masquerading as objective fact. Moreover, the practice of yellow journalism involves sensationalism. It exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers. It is a mutated version of journalism that goes against the key principles of reporting as an unbiased and objective tool. Gandhi strongly condemned this practice.

Gandhi was an ardent seeker and advocate of truth. To him everything, including journalism was a search after truth. So there is no place in his experiment in journalism for untruth. The yellow journalism deceives the readers and ensnare them. Exaggerations of news events, scandal – mongering, and sensationalism, and many other unprofessional practices are a common feature of this kind of journalism. Combell Observes : These journals carry multi-column front page headlines covering a variety of topics, such as sports and scandal, using bold layouts (with large illustrations and perhaps colour) heavy reliance of unnamed sources, and unabashed self promotion.”[19] Today any newspaper which is given to in an unprofessional or unethical practices, such as consistent political bias falls within the definition of Yellow journalism.

According to Frank Luther Mott (1941) one of the main characteristics of yellow journalism is the use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudo science and a parade of false learning from so called experts. All these are untruth in a kind and so unethical, in the opinion of Gandhi. What morally wrong will not be correct in any other way.  Gandhi, like Joseph Pulitzer, believed that newspapers were public institutions with a duty to improve society, and he put the publication in the service of social reform.  At the same time Gandhi was not against some sort of exaggeration or ornamental writing in reports to increase readability.  Gandhi clearly explained it in a letter to T.K. Menon as a reply to his opinion about Mathrubhumi, the National Daily in Malayalam.

As a result of the increasing competition in the field, major newspapers are also showing yellow nature today. This is also a threat to the right of privacy of individuals. It also causes the violation of human rights. The yellow press often report things inaccurately. Eager to write a juicy story, the journalists feed on rumours. This rampant yellow journalism and hypocrisy has driven people to distrust and even hate this category of journalists. When journalists insult common people using derogatory terms and spread lies and rumours, then they should also be prepared to face the same music from people one day or other. Lies and half truths do severe damage to society. Gandhi said, “Experience convinces me that permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.”[19]

Gandhi take firm stand against yellow journalism because he considered journalism as a great responsibility to society. With great power comes great responsibility. If journalists do not show responsibility and do not question the facts, then soon people will lose their faith on media. Today, people use extremely derogatory language on English TV media in blogs because of media bias. Some times the same has to happen for print media as well.

In India, almost all newspaper published a lie in Nov. 2006 that 70% of Indian women face domestic violence referring it to U.N. In reality, it had not source in U.N, which means it is a lie. Washington Times apologized for picking up that lie. No Indian newspaper or T.V. Channel has apologized yet. The journalists must do some unbiased research so that lies and half-truths can be filtered. Sometimes journalists forget that when they campaign for “extreme laws”, then innocent people get victimised and these victims lose sympathy of the society due to radicalization by media. Then, these people blame the journalists for being extremists and promoters of yellow journalism. Above said, 70% women facing domestic violence is a piece of yellow journalism. Such attempts are untruth. So Gandhi opposed it. He said: “Truth and untruth often co-exist, good and evil are often found together.” [19]

Article 4.  Gandhian Journalism – A Critique

(i)      Assessment of Gandhiji’s contribution

Mahatma Gandhi was a man who opened a new path in journalism. He realized the responsibility of an editor even from his South African days. He considered journalism neither as a profession nor as a business. To him, it was service – 100% service. He opposed all sorts of external control to press. At the same time he said, it can be profitable only when controlled from within. “If this line of reassuring is correct, how many of the journals in the world would stand the test? But who would stop those that are useless? And who should be the judge? The useful and the useless must, life good and evil generally, go on together, and man must make his choice”. Gandhiji wrote in his autobiography.[19]

The historic and social contributions of Gandhi’s Journalism were evaluated in the previous chapters. He could arouse the minds of millions with his divine touch. He led us to democracy, socialism and equality. Tolerance and harmony was his way of action. After the relentless crusade, Gandhi showed that newspapers could mobilise public opinion and influence official decisions. A versatile approach was seen in his writing. He was clear about the nature and content of his papers. He would not carry any advertisements nor try to make money instead he sought subscribers who would give donations. It was while writing in Indian Opinion that Gandhi stumbled on the concept of satyagraha. The journal was to Gandhi, “a mirror of his own life”.

In his Autobiography, Gandhiji wrote, “Week after week I purred out my soul in its columns and expounded the principles and practice of satyagraha as I understood it. I cannot recall a word in these articles set down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely to please. Indeed the journal became for me a training in self-restraint and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts.”

Indian opinion functioned for 11 years. It, more or less, forced the South African provincial regime to modify their repressive laws against Indians. One day Gandhi got a call from Bihar, where the Indigo farmers of Champaran were subjected to the same kind of indignity and exploitation as the indentured labourers in South Africa. He promptly went there and investigated the issues and produced a report that would be the envy of the greatest investigative journalist anywhere in the world. After Champaran it was only a matter of time before the Mahatma took to journalism as his most potent weapon of satyagraha.

As coincidence would have it Gandhi was persuaded to take over the editorship of ‘Young India’.  Simultaneously, he started to edit and write in ‘Navajivan’, then a Gujarati monthly. His writings in it were translated and published in most of the Indian language newspapers. Later ‘Navajivan’ was published in Hindi, as Gandhi was convinced that Hindi would be the national language of free India.

The Mahatma’s crusade for the repeal of the Press Act of 1910 was a unique piece of journalism. He was telling the rulers that it was in the best interests of the government to repeal the law. Issue after issue of ‘Young India’ and ‘Navajivan’ carried samples of the Mahatma’s journalistic genius which blended seemingly earnest appeals to the government to do what was just and righteous.

In South, Africa his writings often made the white racists look ridiculous. “The white barber refused to cut my black hair extending colour prejudice to not only non Christian skin but non Christian hair as well. In march 1922, Gandhi was changed with spreading disaffection by writing seditious articles  in ‘Young India’. In his own inimitable manner Gandhi said: “I hold it to be a virtue to be disaffected towards a government which in its totality has done more harm to India than any previous system. India is less manly under the British rule than she ever was before. Holding such a belief, I consider it to be a sin to have affection for the system.”

To these he added Harijan, Harijan Sevak and Harijan Bandhu which became the Mahatma’s most potent media carrying his message to the weakest sections of India. Young India and Navajivan stopped functioning in January 1932 when Gandhi was imprisoned. Between 1933 and 1940. Harijan (English), Harijan Bandhu (Gujarati) and Harijan Sevak (Hindi) became the Mahatma’s voice to the people of India. In these newspapers found the Mahatma highlighted on social and economic problems of the Indian people. Caste disparities and such instruments of social deprivation as untouchability and discrimination were the targets of the Mahatma’s crusade. Gandhi’s assessment of the newspapers of the day was not complimentary.

Gandhi believed that, for a newspaper had great commitment and obligation to the society and to the public. In 1940 Gandhi explained his policy, “Non violence (Ahimsa) is my policy. My creed and firm belief.” This nonviolent approach in journalism was one of Gandhiji’s greatest contribution to that field. Truthful reporting is directly related to journalistic ethics. Gandhi was also an ardent follower of truth. “Truth and non violence are perhaps the active forces you have in the world. The panoplied warrior of truth and non-violence is ever and incessantly active.”[19]

Gandhiji’s another great contribution was that to language. His language was simple as his life. He could express great ideas in simple words and straight expressions. His language was in graphic manner. This language attracted the common public in large scale. Gandhi could give contributions to news paper language also.

Gandhiji’s publications are a part of mass movement. At the same time they are the tongue of our freedom movement. As a result of Gandhiji’s influence, so many newspapers are started from various parts of the country. In Kerala, Mathrubhumi was one such daily.

(ii)     Significance of Gandhiji’s Journalistic Experiments

Gandhiji’s was considered as the prophetic voice of the twentieth century. As Nehru stated, ‘the light that has illuminated this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years; and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country, and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts”. The great man in loin-cloth with his twin stars of truth and non-violence worked ceaselessly in the field of journalism also. This is not for himself, but for the society. It is the realization of what sociologists call ‘Common human’ Values, for the triumph of the common human way of life.

Gandhi did not believe in imposing his values or way of life upon others; by the same token, he resisted unto death the attempts of others to impose upon him or his people their values and ways of life. But the Saint of Sabarmati could influence the national newspapers of his time in a positive way. He could influence even the press laws considerably. During Gandhi’s period, there was no right for newspapers to write against courts. But in the case of Balagangadhara Tilak, Gandhi wrote against the court. He considered ‘Truth as Defence’. Now the courts accept this stand. This is an influence of Gandhi after his death. The world is now recognizing Gandhi as one of the greatest spiritual forces of all times including in the field of journalism. Gandhi called this spiritual force as truth force and dharma. The Indian concept of dharma is a way of living brings man near into God. Gandhi practiced and gave importance to dharma in all his walks of life including journalistic experiments. Today we all are saying about the importance of media ethics (Madhyama-dharma). Gandhiji foresightedly practiced it.

Modern methods of transportation and communication have spanned the oceans, linked countries together, and made it easy for man to travel and communicate. World is now shrinking as a village. Gandhi is experimenting in various fields of life with the concept of one world. (‘ekaloka’). This will continue as a saga; a saga of modern world.[19] Life was conceived by Mahatma Gandhi as a field for experimentation. Experiment is everlasting and new. The purpose of experiment of life is the attainment of truth and self realisation. No one can deny the need of truthfulness in any media activity. Gandhi gave a greater expression to the same truth. To him it was the inner light, conscience and the still small voice within. At the same time, the sanctions that Gandhi would rely upon were the sanctions of non-violent resistance or of soul force. Journalism is a field of competition. Here a votary of soul force, the soldier of non-violence did a lot with his will power, inner compulsion and rigid discipline. His body, mind and heart moved in accordance with whatever he wrote. He could co-ordinate thought, word and deed. He became nonviolent in these three ways of silent communication, even under the severest provocation. This is a unique way of communication. In that sense, Gandhi was one of the most experienced communicators of the world.

To day, all of our media ignore the marginalised and the poor. But Gandhi gave primary importance to them. He was against all kind of caste discrimination. He believed that the infinite personality of man could only come from the magnificent harmony of all human races.[19] The very spirit of goodness and friendliness filled the world of Gandhi in his religious approach. There is no partisan approach. He gave equal regard to all religions – in his own word ‘Sarvadharma Samabhava’. It is another unique style and significance of Gandhian way.

Nehru rightly said about on Gandhiji: “In an acquisitive society madly searching for new gadgets and new luxuries, he (Gandhi) takes to his loin cloth and his mud hut.”[19] Here is a journalist lived with minimum wants, a life which is absolutely eco-friendly and believed in need based economy. Economically saying, he was against to the exploitation of human beings, concentration of power and riches in the hands of the few, technological unemployment, and consequent starvation of those displaced by the machine. His sarvodaya concept was based on the noble and happy life of all beings in the world. Gandhi always was incessantly for fighting social justice and equality with his mighty pen. He believed in the free development of human personality and the peaceful international society. Even today, it is not easy to a journalist to work with such a broad vision. This also underlines the significance of Gandhi as a journalist.

Gandhi considered mass communication as mass education. He himself was a great teacher, a great educator and great pedagogical expert. He was considered as a saint among statesmen. He is presented to us as a prophet calling upon his people – and the people of the world – to tread the path of righteousness. He considered performance of duty and observance of morality as convertible terms.[19] Gandhi was not believed in the creation of new values. But he replaced the age old values with a new vision. In journalism also this condescending personality never tried to make economic benefits. At the same time, the practical politician and traditional Vaishnava Baniya never allowed his publications in loss economically.

He was a man who gave great planes to Press Freedom. He believed that he who masters himself is the master of the universe. Freedom according to Mahatma Gandhi consists in the capacity to impose restraints upon one’s self. During the fight against Martial Law Gandhi explained the importance of free press. He said that we must fight for press freedom, unto death if it is necessary. In that fight, if we lost our life, we are not defeated: The soul will become free at last. What a great concept on press freedom! In short, when we check the significance of Gandhi as a journalist, we can easily find that he is the name of a great truth in history which must be repeated.

(iii)    Some Journalistic Examples in the Gandhian Path

After Gandhi’s death, Harijan was published in many Indian languages. But they did not last long. It shows that the kind of journalism which Gandhi practiced was unique and nobody could reach that height. But there are so many journalistic miracles in the Gandhian path. They continue to exert influence on modern thinking. A school of thought called ‘alternative press’ is being developed as an off-shoot of Gandhian journalism. The alternative press consists of printed publications that provide a different or dissident viewpoint than that provided by major mainstream and corporate newspapers, magazines and other print media. As long as there have been mass media there have been alternative media, and the alternative press is a subset of them.

Environmental magazines, human rights publications and other media for social justice are mainly in the Gandhian line. The alternative press often engages in advocacy journalism and frequently promotes specific political views. In united states, there are a number of alternative newspapers such as the ‘Village Voice’ in New York, The ‘Metro Times’ in Detroit, the ‘Boston Phoenix,’ the ‘Chicago Reader’, ‘Washington City Paper’ and the ‘Knoxville Voice,’ etc.[19] In India Gandhi could give a common outlook and sense of direction to the newspapers in his time. Some such Gandhian values and influences still persist. Indian National congress and the freedom movement helped not only the growth of Gandhiji’s publications, but also that of all the other national dailies. Their number has increased.Many newspapers in the regional languages sprang up. In Kerala, the Mathrubhumi was started as a part of the freedom struggle. It was the concerted effort of by eminent freedom fighters like K.Kalappan, K.P.Kesava Menon, K.Madhavan Nair, P.Ramunni Menon, Kuroor Neelakandan Namboothiripad, K.A.Damodara Menon etc….

‘Vivekodayam’ from Irinjalakkuda (1967)’ Atmavidhya Kahalam’ from Kozhikode by Vagbhadanantha Gurukkal, ‘Jana Ranjini’ from Kottayam…. Made their contributions to lead the society along the Gandhian path. Kuroor Neelakandan Namboothiripad started ‘Lokamanayan’ from Thrissoor (1920), ‘Swaraj’ from Kollam (1921),
’Al-Ameen’ from Kozhikode by Muhamjmad Abdul Rahman sahib (1924), ‘Yuvabharatham’ from Palakkad, ‘Malayala Rajyam’ from Kollam ‘Kerala Kesari’, ‘Swabhimani’, ‘Mahatma’ and ‘Navajivan’ from Thrissoor by Amsi Narayana Pillai, etc. are some such Gandhian publications of that era. Kuroor Neelakandan Namboothiripad was arrested and jailed for six months accusing sedition on an editorial wrote in ‘Lokamanyan’.

Small scale newspapers in Kerala, the most literate state of India are trying to raise regional issues. Though they are small in circulation wise, the service done by them is not small. Their vested interests are negligible. The advertisement giants do not disturb them. So they can expose the malpractices in the society than large scale news paper houses without fear of retaliation.

Today also there are some journalists who write in the Gandhian path. The rural editor of ‘The Hindu’, P. Sainath is one among them. He is giving reports from Indian villages. He was in partisan with the hungry million of villagers. (Daridra Narayanas). He recently published a book on these issues called ‘Everybody loves a Good Drought. He led the mass media to the mass reality of rural India.

‘Gandhi Marg’, the journal of Gandhi peace foundation is a publication in the perfect Gandhian line. It is a high standard publication on Gandhian issues and vision. It’s articles are accepted world wide reputation. It will not collect advertisements. It is published both in English and in Hindi.

Various Gandhian organizations, environmental movements and social fellowships purposefully avoid advertisements from their publications. The ‘Prohibition’ Magazine of Kerala Madhya Nirodhana Samiti is one among them. It is published from Ernakulam. The Inland and mini magazines in Kerala are the symbol of active young mind in the state. They have influence among the youth. They only collect minor contributions from the readers for publishing cost.

The ‘Soochimukhi’ and the ‘Ankh’ Published by famous environmental activist Johnsy in the state were noteworthy. They never collected advertisements. Their price was comparatively high. Even then they could attract the readers. ‘Soochimukhi’ was published from Kozhikode and ‘Ankh’ from Edatt. They shed some rays of hope in the Gandhian path.

Gandhi believed that a small group of people having firm faith in their mission can even change the course of history.[19] This belief helped Gandhi in all his attempts. The modern newspapers are growing day by day with a gigantic speed. Even then all attempts in the small scale are also relevant.

(iv)    Professional Journalism and Gandhiji

Ours is an age of professional journalism. Each journalist is trying to show his professional excellence. Each publishing house is trying to make use of   professional team work. We can not blame a professional approach as such. Professionalism has it’s own merits also. Even then Gandhiji was not an advocate of professional journalism. He himself admit this. “As for giving ideas, I have some originality. But writing is a by-product I propagate my ideas. Journalism is not my profession.”[19] He also gave more importance to his actions than his writings. “What I have done will endure, not what I have said or written.”[19] Gandhi had taken up journalism not for its sake but merely as an aid to what he had conceived to be his mission in life. “My mission is to teach by examples and precept under severe restraint the use of the matchless weapon of satyagraha which is a direct corollary of non violence and truth…. To be true to my faith, therefore, I may not write in anger or malice. I may not write idly. I may not write merely to excite passion.”[19]

In professional journalism, social commitment is ignored by and large. Gandhi considered journalism as a service means to the society. In his autobiography he has given expression to his views in some detail.[19] He was very much aware of the great power wedded by the news paper. “As an unchained torrent of water submerges whole countryside and devastate crops, an uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy” – He warned. Gandhi explained his way of journalism truthfully: “The reader can have no idea of the restraint I have to exercise from week to week in the choice of topics and my vocabulary. It is a training for me. It enables me to peep into myself and to make discoveries of my weaknesses. Often my vanity dictates a smart expression of my anger a harsh adjective. It is a terrible ordeal but a fine exercise to remove these weeds”.[19]

Gandhi was never thought of achieving wage or profit from his journalism. In that sense he was not a working journalist in the new sense of the term. Even then he gave some great norms to the profession. “My writing cannot but be free from hatred towards any individual because it is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth.”[19] He wrote it as a base of his ethical stand. In any other profession, the violation of ethics may led to debar from the profession. The profession of a doctor or an advocate is an example. But in the case of journalism, readers are the masters of all. If we strictly gave some ethical codes to the profession, it may destroy freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression. Gandhiji also admits this truth.

Professional journalism was developed from the realization of the media owners that, it was necessary for the promotion of their business activities. As a result it become a tool of capitalists. Content wise competition overcomes all limits. As a result professional approach in every field of the newspaper industry flourished. The call of inner -voice disappeared. Journalists are trained. Technological advancement and professionalism decreased the moral self-control of the field.[19] Professionalism now becoming a by-product of capital power. It gradually vanishes the small scale newspapers from the field. Also journalism is now degraded to like any other profession.

If we take the professional approach, the content of involvement on issues and matters will decrease. No news will touch the heart of the journalist. It is a fact that to a certain extent this is good. If a journalist become unconscious when seeing a disaster, he could not perform his duty well. There is a saying that ‘generally speaking the press lives on disasters.’ But the absolute untouched approach of professional journalists is not good for the society. They are not lotus leaves in the water. They are part and parcel of the society. As we saw earlier, professionalism increases competition. A professional journalist is always competing with his colleagues and with other unprofessional journalists. Today journalism is led by liberalism. It is the only industry which directly related to democracy. As a result the importance of journalism is increasing in the society. Gandhi was not fully against to all these. Today a group of journalists are becoming careerists. To them money and higher positions are the only aim. It is unfortunate. Journalism is a different job. It has its own heights. Here we can see the beauty of the words of Gandhi. “There can be no room for untruth in my writings, because it is my unshakeable belief that there is no religion other than truth and because I am capable of rejecting aught obtained at the cost of truth.”[19]

References

CHAPTER – VII

RELEVANCE OF GANDHIAN APPROACH
IN THE JOURNALISTIC TRENDS

Muckraking journalism is almost certainly a causality today. Journalistic approach must change according to the times and technology. But at the same time, the aberrations must be corrected. Then only the newspapers can regain the trust of the reading public. It is a fact that people are hungrier for information than ever before. The credibility, impartiality and reliability of news items will help the papers for its healthy existence. Newspapers offer a kind of credibility and expertise that other outlets of news can’t match. Rupert Murdoch, the media emperor said recently, “Readers want what they have always wanted; a source they can trust. That has always been the role of great news papers in the past. And that role will make newspapers great in the future.”[19]

This study of mine has brought to light major aberrations of journalism. They are sensationalism, trivialisation of news items, undue importance given to advertisements, ignoring ethics for economic benefits, loss of the credibility of newspapers giving views disguised as news and over politicisation. Commercialisation of newspapers converted the journalistic field into, an arena of business. Even venture capitalists and media tycoons are competing in this field. Commercialisation converted news and newspaper to a product or commodity. The educational value and purity of news is ignored. It is a fact that newspapers are becoming a product prepared according to the demand of the market.

The real goals of the media were ignored. It is a fact that in course of time media insisted on certain objectives discarding some others so much so the objectives of the media and the society differed on issues. The present trend seems to be imparting information and providing entertainment discarding many other objectives of media. At the same time, media especially print media it seems have failed to perform their expected duties and to achieve their objectives. They have neither conducted a deep opinion-research, nor had taken all the needs of the society into consideration. Further, it has not bothered to take public opinion into account nor has it aired public opinion in full. Objectives very often are not set by people, but by media themselves. This trend does not appear to be helpful for a healthy society and democracy. Our media does not rise to the higher levels in order to become participatory and interactive. There is a gap between the objectives of newspapers, its unlimited scope and actual practice. The news papers fail to generate favourable and balanced opinion among the people.[19]

There are so many things which the print media could effectively do more than any other media. Communication wise and functional wise it has several advantages. Television and other media are almost incapable of giving analysis, write-up, features and editorials. But it is sad that the print media is refraining from giving the details of news items. The mediamen have little insight or interest to guide the society. They forget that the objectives of the media are to inform, to educate, to transform, to restructure the society…. etc.

Mahatma Gandhi here gave us a great example of ideal journalism through his four publications ‘Indian opinion’, ‘Young India’, ‘Navajivan’ and ‘Harijan’. The Father of the Nation can be considered as the Father of Indian journalism. We saw that the Gandhian journalistic experiments are value based. He himself said this: “I have naturally formed the habit of restraining my thoughts. And I can now give myself the certificate that a thoughtless word hardly ever escapes my tongue or pen. I do not recollect ever having had to regret anything in my speech or writing. I have thus been spared many a mishap and waste of time.[19]  We had seen in the former chapters that the specialties of Gandhiji’s journalistic attempts. They show us an example of journalism both with high standard of practical and ideal values. If we imbibe them, we can easily be remedied the aberrations of contemporary journalism. Analysis of contemporary situation taught us that it is not desirable. The basic lesson which Gandhi gave to journalists in the introductory part of ‘Hind Swaraj is relevant today than ever. He wrote: “One of the objects of newspaper is to understand the popular feeling and to give expression to it; another is to arouse among the people certain desirable sentiments; and the third is fearlessly to expose popular defects.”[19]  The three functions mentioned here are also the functions that he had proposed for his newspaper, Indian opinion.[19]

Gandhi never believed that his own stand point alone is correct and all others are wrong. He always welcomed various ideas and ideologies from everywhere; in his own words he always kept open the windows of his house for them. He never considered that whatever the newspapers gave were true. He criticised such a view entertained by many newspapers in Hind Swaraj: “To the English voters their newspapers is their Bible. They take their cue from their newspapers, which latter are often dishonest. The same fact is differently interpreted by different newspapers, according to the party in whose interests they are edited. One newspaper would consider a great Englishman to be a paragon of honesty, another would consider him dishonest. What must be the condition of the people whose newspapers are of this type?”[19] Such attempts are considered as malpractices in journalism by Gandhiji. He said they are insuring the valuable press freedom.

Gandhi was a journalist who had many unique qualities. He believed in the purity of both ends and means. To him, what is ethically wrong will not be right in any other way. He was a journalist who stood by and fought for the millions of poor people in India. He wrote in ‘Harijan’ that India lives in her seven lakh villages, not in her urban centres. He wrote in Young India that the planning must begin at the grass root level. Here we can see that his integrity in all the fields of his life. His political, social, educational or religious approach was not against to his journalistic approach. A journalist who believed in truth force, a man of absolute non-possession, a warrior of unfearful fights, a person with uncompareable will power and a saint among politicians taught us that education and communication are tools. A tool can be used well or abused. “The same instrument that may be used to cure a patient may be used to take his life, and so may a knowledge of letters. We daily observe that many men abuse it, and very few make good use of it, and if this is a correct statement, we have proved that more has been done by it than good. [19]Now we can evaluate how Gandhi used this divine instrument in the coming articles. And it is a search for the answers of our journalistic problems of the day. There was not a single day in which Gandhi wrote something in his life. He wrote important things even when travel by train. This continuous writing helps him in his own growth. He was a product of making, so it is relevant expose his approach as a solution to our contemporary problems.

Article  1.   Editorial Trends and Gandhian Views

Media can instill higher values in individuals and the society. It can also introduce new visions and virtues. So the media has the responsibility to give news and views congenial to the creation of such an atmosphere. It has to resist all kinds of enticements and temptations. The media must not act as promoters of consumerist culture now prevailing in every field of life the world over.

Reporting must be impartial. But at the same time it must side with the cause of justice. Now we are seeing the reports are going hand is hand with power. Some reporters are not giving balanced news or views. Reporting is not a pure historical documentation even though journalism is called as the primary history of events. News is defined as an account of an event, or a fact or an opinion that interests people. Anything that people want to read is news, provided it does not violate the canons of good taste and the laws of libel. So news is that which the greatest interest for the greatest number of people. So news must be an accurate and timely intelligence of happenings. It includes the inspiration of happenings and the result of such happening. It comprises all current activities of general human interest and the best news is that which interests the most readers.

But Gandhi was a person who never searches news as we define the term today. His words are big news to world media in his time. At the same time he gave his views and opinion in his publications instead of news. The conventional values of news such as progress disaster, eminence, novelty…. etc. did not attract Gandhi. He never hunted for news; but he himself was a news source. Gandhi insisted that a reporter should always double check the facts with at least a second source. As an ardent votary of Truth he was in tune with the factual reporting. But at the same time he was accepting the practice of some exaggeration in journalism to increase readability without sacrificing truthfulness. He said, “If I am true to myself, if I am true to mankind, if I am true to humanity, I must understand all the faults that human flesh is heir to.” [19]  Such a factual reporting was against all sorts of sensationalise practices in journalism. Here no news item will be sensationalised or trivialised. At the same time it will extend to the goodness of the society with a human touch. Reasonable intelligence, ability to write with extra ordinary speed, a sociable personality, variety of experiences, a temperament of work hard, tolerance permitting objective observations of people and events, firm determination, wide range of interests, self discipline…. etc. are some of the qualities of Mahatma Gandhi as a journalist. These are accepted as the qualities of a good reporter or editor. Gandhi showed us how a good journalist simply takes a position as an unbiased witness in reporting events and accurately interpreting the facts. He did not give importance to news as we consider it today.

(i)      Factual Reporting

Gandhi believed that the press must enlighten people. For this the reporting must be factual. The media can be used to enslave a nation. At the same time it can also liberate the nation. Gandhi showed us the later. The press can be employed to disseminate either truths or false hood. In the history of the world we can see the press has successfully resisted most overt attempts at control, with the aid of some enlightened public officials and leaders like Gandhi. Yet this is a battle the press must continue to fight. Equally important for the press in a free society is its relationship with the people, because they keep the press in business. Readers and subscribers are the life blood of the press. As a member of a free enterprise system open to anyone who cases to venture into competition, a newspaper must maintain the confidence and respect of its readers, or its competitors will take over. In this regard also factual and truthful reporting is an inevitable necessity for a news paper

The function of the newspaper editorial department is to gather news from various sources as it occurs and to write it into readable interesting form, to edit it, and display it in the newspaper. Secondary functions of the paper are to instruct or influence the public through editorials and special articles and to entertain by means of special columns and write-ups. Gandhi gave greater importance to the second function. For this he was truthful and factual fully. We can see the perfectionist approach in his writings. Some times we can see that he is writing the same truth repeatedly in his journals. He himself said: “I believe in what Max Muller said years ago, namely, that truth needed to be repeated as long as there were men who disbelieved it.” [19]Now newspapers are venturing into the fourth dimension with database – enhanced news presentations and sophisticated use of digital news resources. The traditional was often described as a two dimensional news product. The web is said to introduce a third dimension with depth of presentation through layered content, branching links, multimedia and interactivity. In all these planes, the importance of factual reporting does not diminish because everyone wants to know the truth. Most of the newspapers have experienced the evaporation of information value in their own way. “Inaccurate and misleading news items are curse of our time”- Experts in communications opined. [19]Even in this age of fourth dimensional journalism the basic values put forward by Gandhiji are relevant. Journalists like Kerry J. Northrup, Technologies Editor, Infra accepts this. The old comment of C.P. Scott, “Facts are sacred and comment is free” is still valid. To conclude, we can quote Gandhiji who become one of the symbols of values in this country, “I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists. Hence I gather that God is life, Truth is light. He is love. He is the Supreme Good.”[19]

(ii)     Treat the News as it Deserves

We saw in the preceding chapters that news is a sacred thing. It must treat as it deserves. Do not add spice to the news because it is against to the theories of journalistic ethics. In society, journalism must aim at the ‘good of all and happiness of all’. It is nothing different to the concept of sarvodaya put forward by Gandhiji. The practice of sensationalising and trivialising news is related to and aimed at circulation hike. This is nothing, but pure business. Gandhiji’s life was a ray of hope in this darkness. He lived his own life as a world teacher, inspired the people of the global community to do likewise including in the field of journalism. Fearless and biasless approach to news is considered as the highest value of journalism. Gandhiji showed us that if we want peace and prosperity in individual, social and national life we must learn to live the life of truth and non-violence, spirituality and science, fearlessness and biaslessness. In this approach there is no scope for conflict or competition with each other.  [19] The world today is ripe with discord and disintegration. Political differences are also assuming gigantic violent eruptions comparable with those amongst religious, sectional and caste divisions. Fear complex and violent methods are increasingly manifesting themselves in the social as well as economic fields. This is not only found in India but it pervades the whole world scene. It is not possible to have any single ideology or philosophy acceptable to the whole world or in such a vast country as India. This is but natural. It is possible to have different shades in thinking even amongst those having their base in ‘Truth and Non-violence’ and believing in the ‘Purity of Means’. However it is a matter of great concern that there appear differences and tensions amongst those working for identical objectives. Influenced by such a situation in the country, and the world we are all passing through a strange psychological phase. In this context, truth must prevail. So the importance of communication with truthfulness becomes an absolute necessity. So every journalist has the duty to treat the news as it deserves. Each news item needs an appropriate treatment. But the chord of truthfulness (to Gandhi God) must tie each of them. Then friendship of heart persists even though differences of opinion exist in the society. Each journalist has to act on this golden principle.

(iii)    Journalism with a Human Touch

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the simplest persons who lived a very simple life in the world. Every action of his was untainted with hatred, malice or ill-will. No wonder he is addressed by the intelligentsia as Dharmic Gandhi, Socialist Gandhi, Ahimsa Gandhi, Secular Gandhi, Democratic Gandhi…. etc. In fact, he was all these and more. The most important trait in his character was the human he lent to all his actions. Gandhian period gave a hope for the future not only to our country, but to the whole world. But the post independent realities tell a different tale.  Every walk of life, including politics and journalism has demoralized and become self-centered. Devaluation of Gandhian values is taking place even in his country of birth.  We have for then all about him except perhaps the prefix ‘Mahatma’. We ignore common man in every decision. Human rights violations are quite ordinary in our time. We put Gandhi in currency notes, photos, statues and icons. He was a political, social, economic, educational and journalistic crusader. But we gave him forceful martyrdom in all the fields of life.

Modern journalism is fast degenerating into a medium for the glorification of personalities and people wielding power and money. Even antisocial elements are extolled. Almost all people ignore or forget the ‘Daridra Narayanas’. Gandhi, the sage of mystic wisdom prophetically and philosophically knew that charity and justice have both a place in the imperfect human society. He was a dreamer and a practical man of action at the same time. He bore malice with none and was willing to compromise with his enemies. For him non-violence is the law of life and knew full will that use of force could take us nowhere. His roots go deeper than those of the ordinary run of men, for they draw their strength from the perception of the inner beauty and purpose of things, from the invisible life which goes beyond the life of this world but which alone ennobles and explains it. Gandhi’s journalistic approach was an expression and extension of this moral force and goodness. So he was in partisan with the marginalised groups in the society. As the former British M.P. Philip Noel-Baker rightly pointed out, “Gandhi was a man whose greatness belonged not only to his life time but history. He was the friend of the poorest, the lowliest and the lost.”[19]

Gandhi was a person who wrote even with his small paper pencil and unprinted portions of old calendar sheets. Thus the Mahatma gave the great message that all natural resources must be preserved for the future generations. Such a journalism or journalist is not common in the history of world. Today almost all news papers and newspersons are ignoring the value of environmental protection and preservation of natural resources. All papers are becoming professionally designed papers. They display news items and photos as goods displayed in a good super market. These papers lost their life though they can attract the readers (Consumers). Everyday a good newspaper must come with a difference in news as well as display. Each situation needs a different approach. The basic values must not be changed. Then only the life of the paper must be enriched. The umbilical chord of divine human touch in journalism must be kept sacred. Our newspapers and magazines must become more human and humane.

 

Article 2. Economic Trends Influencing Journalism and Their                    After Effects

A new trend in journalism is that it becoming more and more business today. It has accelerated the decline in prestige of the editors. Editorial control has fallen and editor becomes only a public relations officer. The mass media is forgetting mass realities. The managements control on editorial section has increased and the relevance of the market is amplified. The news tends to cope with the need of the market. Both globalisation and liberalisation are have become straws,  that break the camels back. Newspapers have started dumping copies in airports, railway stations, bus stands, everywhere. They’re no longer looking for readers; they’re looking for eyeballs.

It is an age of corporocracy in the journalistic field. It devalues journalism for economic benefits. Some times even untruth is publishing for overcoming the opponent paper. Gossips are becoming the part of media activities. Great ideas and ideals were ignored for the success in the market. The integrity, impartiality and creative mentality was loosing from the journalistic field. Some of the papers are trying to create forced circulation. Prof. Frank Thayer, expert in newspaper business management at the University of Wisconsin was writing about this: “When a newspaper dealer or newspaper boy, takes and pays for more copies than he has customers, he is said to ‘eat’ the left over.”[19] Prof. Frank Tayer styled the ‘eaten’ papers as ‘indigestible’ which result in unnatural or ‘forced’ circulation. This shows the circulation was between the papers.

The market influence decreasing the self-criticising power of the media. It is also a threat to Press Freedom. Technological advancement in the field of media made it a business which needs huge capital. To attain and ensure the sound economic condition almost all dailies deteriorated journalistic ethics. Money motive interests are not go hand in hand with journalistic ethics and professional heights.

The journalism in pre-independent period had only one aim – India’s freedom from the British rule. So almost all the dailies, especially the papers of Gandhi, were published with a missionary zeal. In the sense those dailies are free from all economic bondages and links. They are fighting for freedom courageously. The writings of Gandhiji had the power to produce a great effect on the government and the people and largely contributed to the growing national mindedness in the country. He profoundly influenced also the standards of journalism as a profession in the country. He enlightens the people and prepares them for initiating activities for freedom. Gandhi was never run his publications in loss. At the same time he did not want to make money from them. His basic economic concepts influenced his journalism also. Here we can see the solutions of economic problems which the media face today.

Newspapers, magazines, T.V. Channels now compete with one another in wooing the readers and the viewers holding out incentives and gifts. When a newspaper has to entice the reader with gifts other than their own products, it shows the low level to which it has stooped. These extraneous incentives are just trade gimmicks and unworthy of the traditions of the fourth estate. It is stated here that because of the emerging commercialisation and capitalism. The merit of news is ignored and such economic trends must be unwarranted. It is unethical and would cut the roots of the Fourth Estate.

Gandhiji’s economic concepts are based on three basic assumptions: (i) Every person has an inherent right to live (ii) The intellectual labour is spiritual. So the intellectuals must not leave bread labour (iii) Moral and the materials progress do not go together. With this broad concepts Gandhi approached journalism. So he fully avoided paid advertisements. He was also against to the commercialisation of news papers.

(i)      Journalism is Not for Sale

We saws that communication is a divine boon to man from God. It is not a commodity to sell in the market place. Today ‘mega’ papers trying to kill ‘mini’ papers by selling news items. News papers compete each other with a vigorous spirit. Some media persons and journalists are selling news space by accepting money. Papers are deteriorating to ‘pay-pers’. Newspaper is considered to be a messenger who reaches information with justice. But today it degrades as a commodity in the market.

The marketing network of newspapers, money power of them, the social influence, and the place of media in the minds of millions always tends journalism to become a big business. But really, it is the fourth estate of democracy. The social crusader aspects of newspapers must be preserved. It based on the goodwill and the curiosity in the minds of the people.

Newspaper is a big business. But it is not like any other business. It is not surely profitable also. It needs new content – mix every day. A new newspaper must compete with the age old papers in the market from the beginning itself. The forced circulation must not be become natural circulation in the ordinary case. Some newspapers are giving free as a part of the circulation war. These free copies, ‘Sticker copies’, Complimentary copies etc… are part of the forced circulation. The increase of nuclear families, the advancement of technology and marketing strategies increased the circulation of newspapers. They are becoming information packets, study guides and service columns to boost up the circulation. But in quality wise the newspapers are not improved so much. Here we saw the improvement of business but not of journalism. It is the time of wholistic approach in every field. Like wholistic medicine, wholistic journalism and wholistic information must be provided. It is the necessity of the era.

The advertisement war is another field of competition. Journals are attacking each other for selling ad-space. For space marketing, the circulation figures become a tool. Both print and visual media depend on advertisements for survival. Those who give the big advertisements (Advertisers) ultimately govern the media too. Thus the media world is indirectly controlled by capitalist forces and hence much of the ownership of newspapers is with them.

Everyone keeps dividing journalism into serious and non-serious journalism – It’s a bogus division. What is called non-serious journalism, is in fact, a very serious business proposition, or at least it’s perceived as that by the media owners. They divide journalism into what is serious and what makes reverse.

Here also Gandhi’s concepts are different. To him, journalism was a sacred mission and a tool to service. He never go before advertisements or advertorials. He was a man who visualised village oriented economy, trusteeship, theory of bread-labour,  economic equality and harmonious relations between capital and labour had been convinced of necessity of decentralised political and economic system. He believed that journalism must also stand for decentralized political and economic system. Accumulation of wealth is not considered as a glittering experience by him. He believed in the welfare of all and production by the masses in the society. Decentralised economic system can be sustained only through decentralised political system.

As an ideal journalist Gandhi showed us that one can run a paper with only collecting subscription rate. As we know, the establishment cost in those days is too lesser than that of today. But even then the example showed by him is relevant. When some printing units were not ready to publish Gandhiji’s journals in fear of the British authorities, the two co-workers of Gandhiji, Anasooya Ben and Maganlal Gandhi started a press. It was Navajivan Mudranalaya.
Rs. 6000/- was its production cost. The copy right of Gandhiji’s works are owned by this publishing house even today.

Competition is a by-product of any business. While not consider journalism as a business, Gandhiji avoided all sorts of unhealthy competition. He was a journalist who gave importance to the service angle of journalism. He taught things with his media. For this he consciously and purposefully ignored the other two duties of the media – to entertain and inform day to day events. In an approach based on service there is no scope for commercialization. Business approach will destroy the very essence of journalism itself. Gandhi foresightedly visualised this long ago.

Localisation of news is a common phenomena today. It lose national and international perspective. This kind of localisation is for increasing business and so parochial. Earlier it was all national and the reader didn’t know what was going on at the grass roots and therefore were taken by surprise by ground realities. Now the pendulum may be swinging the other way. Again, this is the lure of the market and so not good for healthy journalism.

(ii)     Ethics First, Everything Else Next

Gandhi considered ethics as primarily important in journalism. Everything other had only secondary importance. He write: “I wish these correspondents and the news agencies will, instead of making the publication of news a matter merely of making money, think of the public good. Premature publication of news indirectly obtained by means not always straight ought not to be the function of journalists.” [19]He always insisted on the checking of news items to increase it’s authoritativeness. He added, “I know that mine is a voice in the wilderness, though I speak with the authority of an unbroken experience of practical journalism for over twenty years, if successful conducting of four weeklies can be regarded as such. It was a hard struggle, but I found in the field of journalism as in many others that the strictest honesty and fair dealing was undoubtedly the best policy. Any short cut is longer at least by double the length sought to be saved for there must be a retracing.  I say all this not for the sake of the struggle in which I would value the co-operation of journalists whether they approve of or oppose my methods of political warfare.”[19]

He considered the highest ideals like truth and non-violence with primary importance. He wrote, “Young India will be stale when truth becomes stale. The pages of Young India can only, illustration the utility and the necessity of non-violence in dealing with the questions that engage public attention. So much for the central policy of Young India.”[19] Gandhiji believed that the readers also have an ethical role in newspaper reading. He considers it as a ‘Yajna’ or ‘Sadhana’. The ethical aspect is more important than all other aspects of journalism. He advised, “Readers, you don’t read Navajivan for mere pleasure. You read it in order to understand your post of duty in the great Yajna which is in progress in our country. If the readers of Navajivan realize their duty, you may rest assured that Swaraj is as good as in your hands.”[19]

Gandhi’s ethical stand was directly related to sarvodaya (the welfare of all) and the upliftment of the poor. In theory, journalistic approach should tend in favour of the downtrodden segment in the society. Now everyone neglects the poor. 70% of the population is ignored. These people in the country are a forsaken lot, lost in poverty and misery is living in neglected day and night. No developmental journalist seeking their problems. Almost all correspondents say that we don’t want to talk to them, because they don’t make news. Media ignore common man until the elections, when they screw the media’s happiness. Here we can see a journalist who always consider and stand for the millions of ‘Daridra Narayana’s in this country. Many asked Gandhi why he does not start a newspaper in English. He answered: I shall convey my message to villagers who lived in small huts and to farmers and weavers in this country. For this, I shall use their own language.”

Gandhi’s articles mostly dealt with topics which he considered of vital interest to the progress of the nation. It is considered opinions on the burning topics of the found expression in the columns of his journals. The Hindu-Muslim unity, the abolition of the drink evil, the promotion of Khadi and other village industries, the large scale use of the spinning wheel as a means of supplementing the income of the semi-starving and half – employed village peasants in India,…. etc are his topics. Almost all these topics are directly related to the actions of that great karmayogi.

Gandhi insisted on that everything written in the papers are based on first hand information. Writers must narrate only their own experiences. What was sheared here and there must not be reported. The purity of printing letters must be kept. The pure, plane and simple personality of Gandhi was against to all sorts of unethical practices which we see today’s journalism. The transparency and integrity of journalist Gandhi was extraordinary. It is based on his spiritual strength and height.

Gandhi was not a journalist who gave what the people wanted. He never tried to fulfill the interest of the people. He was leading the people in the direction which he believed, would lead them to a better life. His readers are also accepted this way of life. The social commitment of the media is decreasing. Many other interests are taking its place. But it is not desirable trend because all media activities are socio-cultural in nature. So it must be ethical and moral.

(iii)    Avoid Advt-Culture

It is a fact that Gandhiji avoided all sorts of advertisements from his publications. It is an ideal stand. Today, it is not easy for newspaper establishment to take such a stand. Primarily, newspapers become a huge industry. It needs large scale investment. Secondarily, the establishment cost and maintenance cost of newspapers are also very high. In this situation the only thing which is practical is to avoid the advertisement culture of the media.

The undue importance attached to advertisement is a comparatively novel phenomenon. In the competitive field of advertisements each media tries to canvass more and more advertisements. Now this competition leads to unhealthy practices such as adulteration and fabrication of news. For advertisements, even press freedom and journalistic ethics is curtaining. It is a fact that advertisements help indirectly the readers to get the newspaper in low price. But for this the great principles, practices and age old traditions of journalism must not be buried. Journalistic field become very complex in nature now because of the above said advertisement culture. Advertisement is purely a commercial matter. It must not be allowed to destroy the editorial supremacy and social commitment of the media. Today, the capital forces and the commercial tycoons are killing gradually, the professional excellence in journalism. The only remedy of this is to control the media by the public. Media can control the public in democracy. Vice-versa is also possible. Readers must become media literate and conscious. Editorial must not be changed into content-mix and editor must not be allowed to change to content-manager. Matter disguised as news is only advertisements. It must be realized and resisted using tooth and nail. Some managements use contractualisation, casualisation, hire and fire system etc. to control the journalists as their will. The readers must show them that journalistic work is a creative work. At the same time responsible journalists must realize that conflicts, competitions and sensationalism do not made a valuable newspaper. The value of the media is not lies in the peeping to the public life. Journalism is a business which must not tend to be more business’.

The ‘paid news syndrome’ which we see today is a by-product of ad-culture. It makes the field corrupted. The basic approach of most of the media owners is that ‘everything is for exchange and exchange is for profit’. This will create a situation which led to the loss of credibility of the media. The pressure in the workplace due to the ad-culture on additional sections will also affect the matter of fact reporting. Capital, journalistic creativity, work efficiency and reliability must go hand in hand. All money motive hidden agendas must be avoided.

In each advertisement, there is an element of cheating, by and large. This is against to truth. To Gandhi, the empire of Truth has not limits and knows no relaxations. Modern life, However has made numerous and extensive inroads upon it. Advertisement is become inevitable in the progress of any business today. Gandhi was preternaturally careful to avoid situations that might compromise or weaken his adherence to truth. With a will that no bribe can buy and no threat can bend, he upholds the supremacy of his conscience. Dedicated in body and soul to the service of mankind, he will seek no good however great or glittering, except by methods wholly consonant with his own conception of right or truth. He protests against people following him blindly and accepting his decisions without endeavouring to make them their own. Yet so weak is human nature that in the wide circle of his influence, people too readily surrender their individual freedom and so falter with truth. The Mahatma’s devotion to the goodness of truth in her various phases.

As we saw later, Kerala is a land of high media literacy, media consciousness and media vigilance. But here also the ad-culture is not less. The advertisement portion in newspapers is increasing. The
in-house advertisements of newspaper houses also take a considerable portion of the newspaper. Here also as major part of the total revenue is realized by selling space to advertisers, a reader can buy a newspaper at less than its cost of production. Here media is bringing about modifications to meet the changing tastes of readers and demand of advertisers. Selling space is becomes easier if the newspaper has a good circulation. In Kerala, the major two newspapers are having circulation figure above 12 lakhs. The purchasing power of people in this state is also high. So advertisers are attracted to the publications largely.

The editorial content of a newspaper has a marked influence on the decision of advertisers. The editorial content must provide an environment for selling advertisement space. Some readers consider advertisements as an integral part of the newspaper. It cannot be died that advertisement has communication and informative value. It also give some valuable information to readers. But the control must be on the editorial items. The newspaper is basically meant for reading. It is not fully meant for commercial purposes. The power of news items and editorial content make a newspaper more worthful. This will indirectly cause the success of advertisement section also. Thus we can empower a paper without spreading advt-culture.

 

Article 3.  Political and Social Trends of Print Media and Their                        Influences

The newspaper industry is not only a commercial organisaiton but also an important socio-political institution. A newspaper has two sides: One side it is a business like any other business and has to pay for its raw materials and ensure return on its investment, on the other it has socio-political obligations. It reflects and influences community life, socially, politically and economically. It, therefore, enjoys a special position in the body politic of a nation. Socio-economic changes are invariably accompanied by tension and sufferings in various forms in the society. Newspapers have a role in removing these tensions.

Gandhi believed in the spiritualisation of politics. But he was firmly committed to the equality and tolerance of all religions. This was his approach is journalism also. Gandhi derived his politics from religion but in struggling against religious divisions and fanaticism and in emphasizing the relationship between national unity and spirit of tolerance, he took the struggle for secularism forward. He made it clear that state should have nothing to do with religion, which is a personal affair. He gave the state the responsibility of looking after secular affairs like welfare, health, communication, foreign relations, currency, etc.

Media is now ‘manufacturing consents’ for their political motives. Global corporate media is creating opinion in favour of corporate economic – capital powers. In India, also there are some such attempts. The repetition of lies, deviating facts, trivialisation or exaggeration of news, over sensationalisation, etc., are usual practices in our media. These tendencies and trends must be avoided. Now media exaggerate local issues and ignoring global problems. Gandhi takes approaches that ‘think globally and act locally’.

From media, society expects facts. But the reader gets the versions of media owners and journalists. Developmental journalism is ignored today. Socially thinking, development journalism is a tool for social justice and development of the society. A developmental journalist can inform the rest of the world about important issues within developing nations. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of a country may also help to identify ways in which the nations can be helped. When development is used as a propaganda tool, however it become very dangerous. In Kerala, we are seeing such a trend also. Journalists must avoid the temptation to promote a particular political party, politician, social organisation, religion, or a certain business house or businessman. They should not attempt to gain cheap popularity. The pursuit of truth is the only way that a journalist should owe allegiance to. Gandhi as an ethical journalist believed in this.

Irresponsible reporting, politically biased approach and over importance to politics in newspapers are against to Gandhian journalistic philosophy. Each journalist must be a political and social crusader. They must show the people the path of duty while they insisted on securing their rights. Gandhiji emphasised it in the objectives of Indian Opinion. “We (the workers of Indian Opinion) write impersonally and no one on the staff of this journal claims any glory over the matter. We therefore think it but rights to take the public into our confidence. The journal (Indian Opinion) is a great instrument of education. It is necessary for every Indian to look upon the journal as belonging to him, not as something mine.” [19]

Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest contribution to Indian politics and society is lies in the unique method which he had prescribed and employed for fighting wrongs. He considered both in life and in journalism, our strength lies not in concealing our weakness but in knowing and combating it. He made us to realize our own strength through Truth and Non-violence. His approach based on these two pillars of Gandhian Philosophy and journalism is capable for remedying the political and social aberrations which we face today.

(i)       Be Positive – Politically and Socially

Gandhiji has elevated politics to the sublimity of religion, charged the conflicts with a high ethical and humanitarian touch. Gandhiji is unique in political history. He was invented an entirely new and humane technique for the liberation struggle of an oppressed people and carried it out with the greatest energy and devotion. The moral influence which he has exercised upon thinking people through the civilized world may be far more durable than would appear likely in our present age, with its exaggeration of brute force. For the work of statesman is permanent only in so far as they arouse and consolidate the moral forces of their people through their personal example and educating influence. For this educating value Gandhi conducted newspapers. As Albert Einstein rightly pointed out he is a beacon to the generations to come.

Gandhi clearly defined the objects of his journal Indian opinion. The objects of the journal (‘Indian Opinion’) were threefold: “first, to make our grievances known to the Government, to the whites here in South Africa and in England and to the people in India, Secondly to tell our people of their own short comings and to exhort them to overcome these and, thirdly – and this is perhaps the principal object to eliminate the distinctions as between Hindus and Mohammedans and also those among Gujaratis, Tamilians and Calcattawallas prevalent here.” [19] Here we can see the outlook of Gandhi on political and social problems. Gandhi is not only for India a hero of national history whose legendary memory will be enshrined in the millennial epoch. He has not only been the spirit of active life which has breathed into the people of India the proud consciousness of their unity, of their power and the will to their independence.

As a journalist, Gandhi’s sincerity was transparent, his devotion to truth was inexorable. Sacrificing everything himself, he could ask anything of others. Material considerations, worldly cares and ambitions, vanished from his life. The spirit, as manifest in truth and love, possessed him. ‘My creed’ says Gandhi, ‘is service of God and, therefore, of humanity… and service means pure love’. It was an enlightened approach in politics and in journalism and hence new. This great soldier of liberty, great seer of human destiny, martyr of the world’s sorrow, prophet of the world’s hope and sage of mystic wisdom always stands for practical steps in politics and in journalism.

Now technology and working practices changed in the field of journalism. Internet and other media competing with newspapers for giving more and more views and news. Developmental journalism got importance than ever before. Media become one of the major part of creative democracy. The credibility of the media got primary importance. Social commitment decreased than that of the time of Gandhiji. Globalization and internationalism got more and more importance in the field. Social security, human rights, environmental issues etc. become more discussed in media. So approaches in positive direction become needful.

Gandhi was a journalist who had acquired considerable knowledge on various topics. He combined much diversity with a magnanimous touch of unity. He understood the working of the human mind. He was an inventor of a unique kind. His unique ways of protest, struggle, emancipation and empowerment were all positive in nature. This must be relevant today. Gandhiji  explored all the dimensions of the human psyche – its capacity to willingly accept suffering, even unto death, not to attain the kingdom of heaven, but a better world here and now, through social and political change.

We saw that Mahatma Gandhi was a multi-faceted personality to an unusual degree. He was a man of peace who did not hesitate to fight for what he believed to be right; a political strategist who shunned conventional politics and held no office; a thinker and a philosopher who was a man of action. He adopted himself to changing situations without compromising or abandoning his basic values. He respected tradition, yet he was an iconoclast. He embodied spirituality. But his was a spirituality rooted in service to an empowerment of the disadvantaged and underprivileged. He was impatient for cataclysmic change. Yet he shunned violence in any form as an instrument to force the pace of change.

The essence of Gandhi’s political and social philosophy was the empowerment of every  individual positively, irrespective of class, caste, colour, creed or community. We now recognized that political liberty must go hand-in-hand with economic progress. The political discourse, these days, is centered on a global was on terror. And indeed, terrorists who target innocent men, women and children deserve no quarter. But today’s enemies are not just individuals, they are also ways of thinking and perceiving the world itself. Countering violence with even more violence provides not durable solution. Gandhi’s greatest lesson to the world was that we must not be act destructively. Gandhi knew that violence only begets violence and spirals on. Non-violence, non-cooperation, non possession…. etc are negative terms conventionally. But Gandhi made them politically positive terms. He was considered as a saint among politicians and a politician among saints. He spiritualised politics. But now we are politicising everything including spirituality. Journalists must be aware of that and take precautions against this over politicisation. In the next sub-article we shall discuss it more clearly.

(ii)      Avoid Over Politicisation

Gandhiji was basically a man of politics. If we compartmentalise the actions of his life, political activities got the major portion of his time. But he always avoid over politicisation from journalism. He was a politician who deviated his writings from mere political subjectiveness. So the questions are not whether Mahatma Gandhi’s this journalistic approach is relevant or not. The real issue is whether we have the courage and strength of mind to follow in his footsteps, whether we are prepared to live our lives by what he preached and most importantly practiced.

Even while discussing major political issues, Gandhi used his strong sense of humour. He said, “If I had no sense of humour, I would have committed suicide long ago.” [19]At the same time he reveal  his political motives and objectives through his publications. “The chief aim of Hindi Navajivan was to propagate non-violent non-cooperation. It was the translations from Navajivan and Young India.” [19]

Gandhi did not stick to the infallibility of his own views and beliefs. He believed in the free expression of various opinions. He strongly advocated the freedom of expression and in the liberty of the press. “The restoration of free speech, free association and free press is almost the whole Swaraj”, He wrote.  [19]Gandhi was a patriotic man. At the same time he was beware of over patriotic approaches both in politics and in journalism which become injustice. “I work for India’s freedom because my swadeshi teaches me that, being born in it and having inherited culture, I am fittest to serve her and she has a prior claim to my service. But my patriotism is not exclusive; it is calculated not only not to hurt any other nation, but to benefit all in the true sense of the word.”[19]

Today, news papers are politicising news items. In that sense, we can call them ‘views papers’. As a result of this over politicization, sometimes even false news items are got printed. The organs of political parties are fully ‘ignoring the opposite view.’  Almost all media are ignoring the political attempts of the poor and the marginalised. Today the distinction between journalism, public relations, advertisements and entertainment is eliminated. This also made the newspapers politically biased. Most of our present newspapers are just like the ‘Pravda’ of the old Soviet Union. They gave only one view and so partial in politically.

Journals and journalists must be angels and apostles of democracy. They must be vigilant to give a balanced view. It is necessary for the sustenance of a healthy democracy. For this, all newspapers must go hand-in-hand with as a united community. There was no time in history when the media was absolutely impartial in functioning.. But now politicisation is increasing and search for truth decreasing. Many press laws enforced both by the government and the media owners worsen the situation. Some journalists exaggerates or trivialise political incidents according to their political will. Both these tendencies are harmful to a healthy society and must be avoided.

(iii)     Enlighten Politics by the Press

By using the social changing power, the media can enlighten politics. For this, committed journalists should report truth. Trivial sensationalism should be avoided. First of all, we must admit that there are other important areas of life existing outside politics. Then go out and report on exciting things that happen there. There are no simplistic solutions to enlighten politics. Only through professionalism, dedication to duty and truth, and ultimately love for the people and the country can improve things.

Responsibility, creativity and vision will change the present situation. All reporters have a solemn duty to inform, to pass on what they know and see. Right to information is slowly emerging as a basic right of the citizens. Many persons use the law of right to information now. It is one of our basic rights. So the press must adhere to truth and truth alone.

The difficulty in journalism is what is important for whom. The important events for the ordinary people often are not significant enough for the planners and politicians of this country. What is often projected as important is therefore the political advantages of a few, which make people disillusioned and sarcastic. For example, the ISRO espionage case in Kerala. Even now most people don’t know what the truth is. What one can say generally is that, events from all walks of life should get prominence. More objectivity should be brought in, by getting people from diverse spheres of life to express their views on important events and report them objectively. Never twist news and views of people. Never resort to manipulation of news to suit ones interest or to create sensation. Reporters should really take the trouble to investigate and find out the truth. Newspapers should take a stand for and on behalf of people. Instead of crass commercial interests, sensitivity to the marginalised and oppressed should be developed. Monitoring structures like the Press Council should be more vigilant and take stringent action against unethical approaches. By these committed journalists can enlighten politics especially power politics. They have to fight against corruption and inefficiency. Gandhi gave a broad definition to politics. But now we are giving importance to peripheral political activities in our newspapers. Almost all papers giving importance to conflicts and lip-services.  But Gandhi believed in a kind of ‘enlightened politics’ based on constructive activities. He said, “All constructive activity is in a sense part and parcel of the politics of the country.” [19] This kind of a politics must be supported by newspapers. Thus press can enlighten politics. Both must be based on certain principles and ethical codes. Gandhiji again explained that I have sacrificed no principle to gain a political advantage.[19]

Gandhian political, social and journalistic approaches were rooted on the existing social order but it propounded certain new elements suitable to the changing world order.  He provides a methodology for solving problems. This novel mode of fight against injustice and evil gradually found favour with people – all over the world.

The first Press Commission (1954) itself gave some guidelines against over politicisation. But even now we are not practising those guidelines. The human liberative values must be preserved. Do not tarnish the privacy of political personalities. In broad sense justice, equality, socialism etc. must be propagated by the media. Then only the press can enlighten politics and so become more fruitful to common people.

References

Gunvant Shah, ‘Gandhi for the New Generation,’ Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, p.24

[19]       D.G. Tendulkar, Gandhiji His Life And Work, Bombay, 1944, p. XI

[19]       K.M. Shrivastava, News reporting and Editing, Sterling Publishers Private Limited, New Delhi, 1987, p. 226.

[19]       ibid., p. 226

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 43, p. 14

[19]       S.N.Bhatacharya, ‘Mahatma Gandhi – The Journalist,’ National Gandhi Museum, Rajghat, New Delhi-2, in association with Manak Publicaiton Pvt. Ltd; G.-19, Vijay Chowk, Lakshmi Nagar, New Delhi, p .8

[19]      Mathrubhumi Illustrated weekly, 2008 August 10-16, p.36

[19]       Young India, June 1926

[19]      The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.50, p.432, The publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India, 1965

[19]       ibid, Vol.46, p. 257

[19]       Nageswar Prasad, ‘Hind Swaraj – A Fresh Look’,  p.58

[19]      D.G. Tendulkar, Mahatma, Vol. No.6 2nd Edn. 1960, Publications Division

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. LXXI, p.321

[19]       D.M.Datta, ‘The Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi,’ Wisconsin, 1961, p. 70

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 21, p. 240

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. LXIX p. 402

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. .22, p. 118

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 22, p. 303

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol.18, p. 359

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. 21, p.353

[19]       ‘Mind of Mahatma Gandhi,’ Ed. Prabhu & Rao 3rd Edn. 1968, p.480

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 49, p. 414

[19]       Young India, April 4, 1929, p.110

[19]      Paul Manalil and L.I. Jistin Raj. ‘Madhyama Nireekshanam,’ Christhava Sahitya Samiti, Thiruvalla, Current Books, p.95

[19]       Usha Mehta, ‘Mahatma Gandhi and Humanism’ Bhavan’s Book University, Mumbai, 2000 p.161

[19]       ‘Young India,’ 17-9-1931

[19]       Newspapermen, Hugh Cudlipp, Cencil Harmsworth King and the Glory days of Fleet street, Ruth, Dudley Edwords

[19]       M.K.Gandhi, ‘Hind Swaraj’ or Indian Home Rule, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, Preface

[19]       D.G.Tendulkar, ‘Mahatma,. Vol.2, 2nd Edition, 1960, Publications Division, p. 313

[19]       ibid, Vol.3, p. 250

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan publishing house, Ahmmedabad, Vol. 46, p. 28, ‘About Poisonous Journalism’

[19]      Gandhimarg – Journal of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi,
21-3-1986, p. 41

[19]       The Collected works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.48, p.13

[19]       ‘Mind of Mahatma Gandhi’, Ed. Prabhu & Rao, 3rd Edn. 1968, p.343

[19]       Mahatma, D.G . Tendulkar, Vol.4, 2nd Edn. 1960, Publications Division, p.104

[19]       ibid, Vol 5. p.105

[19]       ibid, vol.7.p.1

[19]       ‘Young India’, July 21, 1921, p.229

[19]       ‘Harijan’, March 23, 1947, p.80

[19]       ‘Harijan’, Jan 11, 1948, p.508

[19]       ‘Harijan’, Dec.2, 1939, p.359 & Feb.24, 1940, p.13

[19]       Sadiq Ali: ‘A Gandhian Approach to Current Problems’, Vol.4 p.432. Article: The Feminism of Mahatma Gandhi-Barbara Southard

[19]       What is women’s role? Harijan, 24 Feb. 1940

[19]       J. Thekkinedath, Love of Neighbour in Mahatma Gandhi, Pontifical Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Alwaye, 1973, p.164

[19]       ‘Mind of Mahatma Gandhi’, Ed. Prabhu & Rao, 3rd Edn. 1968, p.294

[19]       ibid, p.302

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography p.27

[19]       Larrie Collins, Dominic Lapire, ‘Freedom At Midnight, p.409

[19]       ‘Journalist Gandhi- Selected Writings of Gandhi’, comp: by Sunil Sharma, Gandhi Book Centre, Bombay, p.39

[19]       Harijan, February 6, 1934, p.5

[19]       ibid, March 2, 1934, p.22

[19]       ibid, Feb. 16. 1934, p.7

[19]       ‘Young India’, Jan 22, 1925, P.30 also Harijan Oct 21, 1933, p.4

[19]       R.C. Zaehner, Hinduism, pp. 173-174

[19]      Harijan, Dec. 24, 1938, p.393

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.26, p.330, 354

[19]       ‘Mahatma’, D.G.Tendulkar, Vol.3, 2nd Edn. 1960, Publications Divisions p.168

[19]       ibid, Vol.3, p.230

[19]       ibid, vol.3, p.248

[19]       ibid, vol3, p.248

[19]       R.D. Parikh, The Press and the Society – Popular Prakasham, Bombay

[19]       Susanjan Das, ‘Communal Violence in Twentieth Century Colonial Bengal’, ‘Social Scientist,’ June 1990

[19]       Mahatma, D.G.Tendulkar, Vol.3, 2nd Edn., Publications Division, p.247

[19]       ibid, vol.8, p.65

[19]       From Wikipedia, the free encydopedia, ‘Yellow Journalism’

[19]       Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol 25. p.424

[19]       ‘Truth is God’, Ed. R.K. Prabhu, 1955, p.107

[19]       An Autobiography or The Story of My experiments with Truth, M.K. Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmmedabad, 1927, p.331

[19]       ‘Mahatma’, D.G. Tendulkar, Vol 3, 2nd Edn, 1960, Publication Division, p.145

[19]       Haridas T.Muzumdar, Mahatma Gandhi – A Prophetic Voice, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, p. 9

[19]       ibid, p.81

[19]       ‘Nehru on Gandhiji’, 2nd Edn. 1945, p.9

[19]       Mahatma Gandhi: Sermon on the Sea, ed. By Hiridas T.Muzundar, p.104, Chicago Now New York : Universal publishing Co. 1924

[19]      Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Alternative Press

[19]       ‘Hind Swaraj – A Fresh Look’, by Nageswar Prasad, p.64

[19]       Harijan, 18-8-1946, p.270

[19]       Harijan 1-5-1947, p.93

[19]       ‘The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi’, R.K. Prabhu and U.R. Rao, Navajivan publishing house Ahmedabad, 1968, p.40

[19]       An Autobiography, p.211

[19]       Young India, 2-7-1925

[19]       Satyagraha leaflets: Occasionally issued during March-May 1919, form Bombay, No.5, 17-9-1919

[19]       T. Venugopalan, The 50 years of Malayalam Journalism, Kerala Press Academy, p.23

[19]       Satyagraha Leaflets, March – May 1919 from Bombay, No.5, 17-9-1919

 

CHAPTER – VIII

GANDHIJI’S DIRECTIVES ON JOURNALISM & CONCLUSION

The Noble ideals put forward by Gandhiji and exercised in his journalistic experiments still hold good, nay it is more relevant than in his own times.  Whatever the challenge we confront, one can be sure that the Gandhian way is real, live option, an option that informs and illuminates. In the case of journalism also it is true. But we would be doing him great injustice if we don’t interpret, in contemporary terms, what he spelt out in the context of his times. He would have wanted us to experiment and find our own way without compromising our fundamental beliefs.

For example, see a guideline given by Gandhiji: “Every editor and printer of a newspaper should regard it as a sin to obey an immoral law. If at the present time, when the people have shed fear and are committing civil disobedience of immoral laws, editors of newspapers show weakness, they are bound to harm the cause of the country.”[19] These words are ever relevant. Such a guideline is not given by expert journalists or journalism teachers even now.

Gandhian perspective of economic growth is directly related to his negation of all sorts of paid advertisements. Gandhi considered that wealth created and generated must contribute, first and foremost to a larger social purpose and common good. By this, we do not negate the principles of profit and commerce. But we underline the need to use a part of the wealth created to better the quality of life of those whose voice remain unheard. Observing the rush to consumerism that is so evident today, Mahatma Gandhi would also most likely remind us that a modicum of austerity would not be out of place.

Gandhi was a unique journalist in many ways. There was not a person in his time who did journalistic work as he did both qualitatively and quantitatively. The basic values put forward by him is more relevant today than ever before. They will lead us to a better tomorrow if only we practise them. Gandhi believed that ‘life is a struggle for truth and justice’. As an exceptional journalist he was absolutely altruistic in nature. A man who experimented with his own life and those of his family members – all in search of truth.  He was a journalist without a craze for publicity nor ambition for material benefits! This was Gandhiji. Modern education, free exchange of information, spiritual power…. etc. are peculiarities of this great journalist. Today we are discussing about the intervention of foreign newspapers to India. Then we shall surely remember the ‘half naked Fakir’ who foresightedly preached and practiced swadeshi in his life.

Gandhi had a vision of the future world an ideal world based on non violence, equitable distribution and equality in social status. He believed that the world of tomorrow will be, must be, a society rooted  in non-violence. [19] Though these may remain only as our goals, these are good guidelines to a better bright tomorrow.

Gandhi knew that knowledge is power. Collecting knowledge, news and information and convey it to the people is the duty of newspapers. This is a step to empower people. So all barriers against to know and to inform must be destructed or removed. Then only a free society will emerge. As a result the media field will also become empowered. In such a situation the media will enlighten all spheres and planes of human life. The change of mind of millions as well as the physical changes will occur. In such a kind of journalism, there is no scope for circulation war or commercial interests. Truth will become the strength of the paper. Such a newspaper will try to find solutions to the problems of the society. That paper will be the voice of the voice-less. Moral force of journalism will stand above all. Then journalists become the true well wishers and representative of the society. (In Gandhian terms, a real satyagrahi). He will lead the society to a better tomorrow with his knowledge, work and life.

Article 1.     Contemporary Relevance of Gandhiji

Ours is an age of modernisation, commercialisation and technological advancement. The rapid speed in every field and the complexity of life accelerate the waves of consumerism. Printing and publishing also have changed according to the market values. In this media-market, modernized minds of journalists seek practical victories. In this mad craze they forget ethical requirements, humanitarian view points and even press laws. Here lies the contemporary relevance of Mahatma Gandhi as a journalist.

Journalism is an intellectual work. The most important role of the intellectuals is to give more and more new ideas and vision to the society. Gandhi, the journalist was such a visionary. Today most of the journalists are professionals. Their approach is peripheral. The lack of genuine deep thinking decreases the discriminating power of the journalists. Journalists are seeking for easy solutions and formulae. They are answering ‘yes’ to all unnecessary orders. The knowledge power of journalists is also decreasing. There is a saying that ‘journalist is a person who knows everything of something and something of everything’. But in practice, it is not so. Gandhi was a person who touches huge variety of topics in his publications. Many of them are deep observations. Such a stand is admirable. We will admire when we search Gandhiji’s journalistic approach in his writings. He lived far before the advent of Alternative Journalism, neo journalism, developmental journalism and investigative journalism. But he had the intuition to do pioneer work on each of these specializations,  with his versatile  genius. As a journalist he read the minds of millions in the world. This makes him relevant even today.

Gandhi was a man of peace. But he triggered off the process of transformation, questioning, independent thinking in a conservative society. A good journalist is an on looker, an amateur and a disturber of the status quo. He will always stand for the changes in positive directions. Gandhiji stood for international ideas, universal approach and contemporary responses. It is an integral part of life and so wholistic in nature.

Gandhiji’s newspapers are not complete newspapers in the modern sense of the term. But even then he advised the journalists not to write anything without evidence. Do not tarnish any one’s fame or do not glorify any one unnecessarily. Journalism must be for social progress and common good. Otherwise it will be harmful to the society. Thus Gandhiji gave a human face to journalism. A good journalist must be empathetic, loving and merciful to the society. He must foresee things and convey his ideas for the betterment of the society.

As we have already noticed, Gandhian approach is wholistic in nature. Society, culture and situations are changed now. If the society accepts to Gandhian values, then only pure Gandhian newspapers will come out. But still, we can imbibe the Gandhian ideals in our day to day journalistic work and policy making.

It is an age of explotion of news and views. So every media person will tend to be in confusion. There also every one of Gandhi’s balanced approaches will definitely help us to be more creative. Gandhiji spent two days of each week in silence – Monday and Wednesday. In these days he wrote articles for his papers. He believed that abstaining from speaking brought him inner peace. This influence was drawn from the Hindu Principles of ‘mauna’ (silence) and ‘ santi’ (peace). On such days he communicated with others by writing on paper. For three and a half years, from the age of 37, Gandhi refused to read newspapers, claiming that the tumultuous state of world affairs caused him more confusion rather than his own inner unrest. This kind of self-imposed restrictions will help us also to be more enlightened in the journalistic experiments.

Studies shows that, in Europe there will come a situation of giving newspapers free of cost may be, within ten years. The advertisement revenue will be large enough to meet all expenditures. This will sound the death bell of Press Freedom. Here we see the foresight and contemporary relevance of Gandhiji.

We shall also look seriously into the language of Gandhi as a journalist. His words are powerful and truthful. His descriptions are reasonable. He used powerful metaphors. He narrated the British parliament as a ‘sterile woman’ and a ‘prostitute.’ [19] Gandhi himself wrote about his language. “I have not been as mindful of grammar as I should like to be. I have not become a writer to serve the cause of the language, but I have had to carry on my work as journalist with the sort of language I know. Language is a great instrument in my work. If a newspaper editor remains indifferent to language, he becomes an offender.” [19]Here we can see the importance given by Gandhi to language. It is a relevant advice even today.

Article 2.     Moral lessons

(1)      Gandhi considered newspaper as means of serving people. He never thought of profit making. “I do not believe in publishing newspapers indefinitely at a loss or by means of advertisements. I announced that it (Young India) would be given up if it proved a loss and that if there were profits, they would be uitilized for some public purpose”, Gandhi wrote. [19]

[2)      Gandhi taught us fearlessness in journalism. He always stands for Press Freedom and fought against governmental laws which curtail this freedom. Unveiling the portrait of S. Kasthuriranga Iyengar, the late Editor of the Hindu, on 22nd March 1925 at the newspapers Chennai office, Gandhiji ……broadly indicated the basic tenets of true journalism thus: “Journalism to be useful and serviceable to the country will take its definite place only when it becomes unselfish and when it devotes its best for the service of the country, and whatever happens to the editors or to the journal itself, editors would express the views of the country irrespective of consequences.” [19]

(3)      Gandhi always stands for ethical journalism. He taught us that what was ethically wrong would never be true in any other way.  We must follow ethical principles in journalism taking inspiration from Gandhian ideology. Objectivity, accuracy and fact writing were the basics of Gandhian approach to journalism. Gandhi, as an ardent votary of Truth, always  placed emphasis on truthful experiments.

(4)      Self-control and regulation was the basis of Gandhian way. It also helps us to foster self-criticism and to encourage adherence to both codified and uncodified ethics and standards. Gandhi hated all restrictions from outside to press which curtail freedom of the press. At the same time he insisted on certain self- imposed restrictions. That made Gandhi an editor with a difference. The Gandhian impact on contemporary Indian writing is brought out in the last three articles of this study. The problems based on the liberty of the press faced by Indian journalists today can be solved in the light of Gandhiji’s guidelines.

(5)      Gandhiji’s commitment to Truth is admirable to any journalist. Truth is considered as one of the highest qualities of the journalistic profession. Unswerving adherence to truth gave Gandhi, the courage in face of adversity, pursuit of public causes and objectivity in presentation. He was totally committed to the sacred pursuit of and the heroic effort to state the truth. Gandhiji was fully aware of the fact that the pursuit of the truth and the articulation of it was the most delicate, hazardous, exacting and with full  of tasks. He was totally committed to the cause of the pursuit of truth, information and enlightment.

(6)      Gandhiji’s language was journalistic in nature. It was graphic and picturesque and easily understandable. Simple words and common similes also helped him to communicate with the common man. Even today the newspapers find it difficult to find a style of expression simple enough to reach the unsophisticated mind. Gandhi seldom used ornamental language. He had the efficency to communicate great lessons in simple words and direct sentences. This is notable to any journalist because language is his tool.

(7)      Gandhi was a journalist who always sided with and fought for justice. He fought against injustice throughout his life. His pen was also a mighty weapon against all sorts of injustice. Even in his South African days, he proved his mettle as a truthful journalist.. His letters to the editors of South African dailies can serve as a valuable lesson to all journalists even today on how to fight injustice in any country or any public machinery where the laws are discriminatory, without giving offence to the perpetrators  themselves. Gandhiji’s only aim as a journalist was to achieve illuminating candor in print and strip away cant.

(8)      Gandhi always stood for the down-trodden millions in his life. He called them as ‘Daridra Narayanas’. This vision is almost unknown or unaware to today’s professional journalists. Gandhi believed in the upliftment of all. (Sarvodaya). His famous ‘talisman’ was very important especially for developmental journalists. Gandhi never believed in the ‘maximum’ good for the maximum number which common journalists and media owners now believe in. He was not a follower of utilitatrianism.

(9)      Gandhi opposed all sorts of commercialisation of the media. Today media is a big business. Though we cannot easily follow Gandhian values in this situation, we can take firm stands against limitless and harmful commercialization and consumer culture. Unnecessary competition must be avoided. At the same time he can purposefully gave a human touch to journalism.

(10)    Gandhi’s stand against advertisements are becoming more and more relevant today. Now-a-days the advertisement section of the newspaper decides many editorial matters. This is not good for the society. Also the advertisement culture prevailing in the society is also harmful. So intelligent steps against this from the side of journalists is an urgent need of the hour.

(11)    Gandhi believed in the theory that ‘small is beautiful’. Gandhi’s journals are small in nature than that of the major newspapers of today. But the power of small newspapers is not so small. Their influence is notable. This is encouraging to small newspapers. Media expert Dr. Sebastian Paul underlines this: “Large scale newspapers saw the readers only as consumers or customers. But the small papers can see human being as human being.” [19]

(12)    As we have observed in the former chapters, sensationalism and trivialisation are two of the major curses to contemporary-journalism. Gandhi never believed such  modes of journalism. He considered the media as a mirror placed in front of the society. But today it is like a magnifying glass in practice. Gandhi was in the path of truth. He believed that ‘the path of Truth is as narrow as it is straight’.[19]

(13)    Over-politicisation is a regular practice in our media. Gandhi was a full time political activist. But at the same time he avoided over-politicisation and blind political partisan approach from his journals. He believed that politics is one of the major planes of life. But he never gave over importance to politics. But now dailies which are ‘independent’ are also becoming over politicised and becoming partisan in nature. Here we have a lesson to imbibe from Gandhi.

(14)    We often see biased approaches in newspapers. This is due to personal, political, religious, social and such interests. Gandhi was unbiased and he had no such vested interests. Every journalist must try to be unbiased in nature. Every report must be factual. At the same time journalists can give his views freely. The newspapers can give their views through editorial coloumn. Don’t misguide the reader by giving views as news or vice-versa. When handling major issues journalists must give both versions. This will help the reader to get a well-balanced, self-attained views. Gandhi’s stand in this regard resembles us the well-known approach of C.P. Scott that ‘Facts are sacred and comment is free’.

(15)    The Credibility of the newspapers is losing now. This is only because they deviate  from journalistic principles such as, truth and lacking of proper investigation. Gandhi always made sure that whatever he wrote was true to fact. He never took anything for granted. As for instance, Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in January 1915. In 1917 he got a call from the Indigo farmers of Champaran in Bihar that they were being subjected to the same forms of indignity and exploitation as the indentured laborers in South Africa had been. Gandhi rushed to Champaran and conducted an investigation and wrote a detailed report. It was a master piece of journalism at its truest and noblest sense. Now it is the time of arm-chair journalism. Most of the reporters and investigative journalists are misguided by some who purposefully concoct stories. Gandhi’s mind for intense search for truth is another great lesson to us.

(16)      Gandhi gave a positive approach to journalism. He was upholding truth against untruth and non-violence against violence. He never used information for any kind of destructive purposes. Knowledge was used for the sake of the well-being of human being and nature. He led people from bad habits to perfect nature. Each new information even from nature cure to international politics was freely flowed through his journals. He give a positive outlook with this. He lived with a vision not only for his contemporary citizens but also for generations to come. This saintly (like a ‘rishi’) mind is not easily attainable to a common journalist. But it is inevitable for a good journalist. All events are repetitions in history. But news must be new. Here lies importance of approach and outlook. Gandhi selected the outlook of positive, progressive nature. To him, this was a search of the minds of millions. That is why he can conquer the minds of millions without arms. One who got victory over minds is the best communicator. It is an ever relevant principle. Gandhi, the communicator gave peace also to the mind. This was his another specialty as journalist.

Article 3. Suggestions and Recommendations

There are so many things to be done for correcting the contemporary aberrations in the field of journalism. They have to be met at governmental, professional, academic, social and individual levels.

 

1.       The Government should reinforce the Press Council by giving more power to that body. The suggestions given by the press council must be given due consideration and implemented on a time bound basis.

2.       It is an age of ‘information super highway’. Technological advancement made the flow of information easier than ever before. So the media should develop a Global Information Infrastructure. As a part of this, we should develop a National Information Infrastructure and to pass the news in a fast manner.

3.       The success of a newspaper lies in authentic reporting, collective decision making, strategic planning, fruitful coordination and aggressive marketing. All these fields must be supervised by efficient editors with a vigilant eye. Such a newspaper could make wonders in the society and transform the same.

4.       The newspapers and journals should expose the evil forces in the society. At the same time they should not lose sight of national integration and communal harmony. They should keep media ethics strictly while reporting communal riots and terrorist activities.

5.       The Right to Information Act (2005) must be widely used by the journalists. So many governmental malpractices will come to limelight if the journalists and the public use this Act effectively.

6.       In the academic level, occasions to study journalism must be increased. Efficient and experienced teachers must be appointed. Gandhian views on journalism must be included in the curriculum.

7.       Journalists and their professional bodies must try to resist sensationalism and trivialisation of news both in individual level and collective level.

8.       The judiciary must be more vigilant in dealing with the aberrations of the fourth estate. Maximum penalties should be imposed on those who violate the regulations.

9.       The media owners should take firm steps to ensure qualitative journalism. They should be guided by ethical standards. They can appoint some commissions or in-house councils to check the situation regularly. Certain code of conduct must also be insisted upon.

10.     Never give over importance to advertisements by burying Press  Freedom and editorial supremacy. The power of the paper is its editorial content. So the managements should ensure the upperhand of the editorial wing.

11.     The media consciousness of the public must be increased. For this, media seminars and workshop must be conducted widely by governmental and non-governmental organizations. Then the public could choose qualitative newspapers and journals. As a result all papers will increase their standard and it will purify the field.

12.     In a consumeristic society, consumer is the king. So if the reader become vigilant, they can easily resist over-politicisation, politically biased approaches, unethical practices and increasing advertisement culture.

13.     There are very many non governmental organizations in our country. They can easily start small scale newspapers and journals. Thus they can attract sectarian readership. Thus those organizations can function as a corrective force.

14.     Training classes must be arranged by the Public Relations Department and Field Publicity Wing of the State and Central Governments on media awareness. This will increase media literacy. They can give proper guidance to common people on the matter of media.

15.     The newspaper must give more space for the reactions of the people. Columns like ‘letter to the editor’ must be allotted enough space. This will help to encourage the ‘response’ part of communication.

16.     The world is changing fast. The communication field also is changing with a tremendous pace. Accordingly, the governmental and non-governmental agencies will have to undertake more and more studies, researches and discussions in the field for promoting qualitative journalism.

17.     For independent growth and development of journalism and mass communication, the ministry of communication should conduct courses at various levels including doctorate. The courses in the universities in the various fields of communication must be promoted. The ministry level courses will include twinning programmes with various countries.

18.     The government may start small newspapers or magazines in every region that function on a self generating basis. Necessary initial funds may be provided by the government. Such news publications must give more importance to developmental issues in the local level. Such pure localisation is not possible to large scale papers.

19.     The publications of the government departments must ensure quality both content-wise and product-wise. The present trend in the market is in favour of quality products and the same is true with the circulation of newspapers, too.

20.     There are over 200 small scale regular periodicals in Kerala. Except a few, all of them are finding it difficult to make both ends meet. Government may consider this matter seriously and provide grants –in-aid to overcome the present crisis. Sufficient grants may be earmarked for their publishing.

21.     Instructions may be given to all heads of educational institutions to provide assistance to conduct journalism and communication seminars and workshops in their respective institutions. This will led to attain general awareness on ideal journalism to the public generally and the student community especially.

22.     Financial assistance may be provided for conducting seminars, workshops and journalism camps for rural and urban communities. It can be done through various programmes, discussions and meetings sponsored by the State and Central Governments, voluntary organizations and various other agencies.

23.     The Government may support publications promoting social welfare and harmony by providing newsprint at subsidised rates and by giving publicity through the public relations department.

24.     The newspaper houses must avoid unnecessary competition, prize-wax and incentive schemes. Now newspapers are enticing  the readers with gifts rather than improving the quality of their journals. It shows the low levels to which they have descended. This must be avoided.

25.     The schemes initiated by the newspapers to protect environment (‘Seed’ programme of Mathrubhumi, ‘Maram oru Varam’ of Malayala Manorama, etc.), to ensure health standards of readers various insurance schemes etc must be promoted. They are beneficial to the readers.

26.     The government may conduct a National Eligibility Test for the journalists and those who intend to come to this field. Those who fulfill certain minimum requirements of general educational qualifications, professional qualifications or have membership of professional bodies or have sufficient practical experience etc can be admitted to the NET. The successful candidates may be declared eligible for appointment in Governmental agencies.

27.     The journalists and media persons have different social, economic, cultural and educational backgrounds. So regular refresher courses and contact classes may be conducted to ensure requisite standards and uniformity. This must be conducted either by the Government or by the media houses.

28.     The journalists are advised to follow the foot-steps of Mahatma Gandhi, who himself was an ideal journalist. It is a pity that there is hardly any newspaper institution that strictly adheres to  the guidelines given by Gandhiji.

29.     The Public Relations Department (P.R.D) of the government may give adequate importance for the propagation of meaningful journalism through documentary films, T.V. advertisements, interviews with eminent journalists and so on.

30.     The Gandhian alternative in journalism must be propagated. Journalism must develop a Gandhian outlook to eradicate the contemporary aberrations in the field.

31.     Newspaper editors must be ready to correct errors which may occur in reporting as soon as they came to know of them. Columns for self-corrections are most welcome.

32.     The Government and other organizations must give awards to journalists and journals which abide by Gandhian journalistic integrity. This will encourage them to follow the best traditions in the field.

33.     It is unjust to print inaccurate information without proper investigation. It is an unpardonable sin to spoil someone’s reputation both personal and professional with insinuations and unsubstantiated comments. The journalists and the media owners must be vigilant. Not to tarnish anyone’s image, for it is irreparable. The Government should make more stringent laws against such defaming practices with severe punishment for the breach of such law.

34.     Media must not encourage controversies or fabricate false stories with a view to increase circulation. The welfare of the society must be the main motto of the media.

 

Conclusion

It is unwise to close our eyes against the fact that the media has become an integral part of life in the world today. Importance of the media is increasing day by day. As the famous journalist B.G. Varghese opined, the media is not the fourth estate any more, it is the first estate, although his statement is tinged with an element of exaggeration. At any rate, the media exerts a powerful influence is an irrefutable fact.[19]  The main reason for its omnipotence is that its intervention, welcome or unwarranted encompasses almost all walks of life, public or private.

Unfortunately, the social role and responsibility of the media have not been subjected to a serious study or survey.  In this study the researcher has made a sincere effort to find out certain remedial for the aberrations such as sensationalism, trivialisation, over-politicisation, commercialisation, unethical practices and over-dependence on advertisements. Diverse aspects of the media activity such as reporting, editorialising, commentary, prejudices, rivalry, language manipulation as also issues like media independence and the dangers of dependence on advertisements even for survival and above all the incursion of the foreign media are dealt with in some detail with utmost sincerity and on open mind.

The media, both print and electronic will have to do a lot of homework to gain credibility and respect from the intellectual segment of the society. The formidable and numerous problems faced and the remedial measures required, constitute the keynote of this research work.

Any honest search in those directions will lead inevitably to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. (Oct. 2, 1869 – Jan. 30, 1948) He was not a journalist who took journalism as a career.  It was a part of his overall experiments with Truth or God. He practised what he preached. As Luis Fischer wrote, “A conversation with him was a voyage of discovery; he dared to go any where without a chart.”[19] Gandhi’s journalism was also similar to a voyage. One thing unique about him was that he could coordinate and consolidate all his activities into a harmonious blend.  His approach was wholistic. It was rooted in Indian culture and traditions. He never took a professional approach in journalism, but never passed a day when he didn’t express his vision or ideas in black and white.

Newspapers are often run on the lines of an industry and the profession is losing much of its charm and utility.  Journalism is not scholarship; at its best, it is literature or history in a hurry. It underlies action and reaction too.  A journalist must have the capacity to understand, to react, to communicate, and Gandhi possessed all these qualities in abundance and was for half a century the greatest one-man-medium of mass communication. He was a good journalist who possessed the alchemist’s touch. Not many journals of the day can claim the stamps of truthfulness and self-imposed responsibility, the hallmarks of Gandhian journalism.

Gandhi was independent and had little need to compromise with commercial considerations. In several cases, he owned the press where he produced the papers which he edited and as editor he always insisted on good management. He did not want to be connected with any paper that was not self-supporting.  It would not entertain advertisements because they were deceptive and amounted to an indirect tax on the reader, who had to pay for them as consumers of goods. He not only edited his papers but wrote for them incessantly. They are small papers according to modern standards, mostly weekly editions, but they were the greatest weeklies that have ever been published as they fearlessly upheld truth and were wholly free from prejudices and favourtism.

In this present commercialized situation, the Gandhian journalistic values must serve as eye-openers. There are Gandhian remedies for today’s journalistic ailments. The journalistic field being highly competitive today, many unhealthy practices are rampant in the field now. Gandhi preached and practiced truthfulness and even took a self-sacrificing approach to journalism. Before independence, all the motto of the main papers championed the cause of the country’s freedom. They provided fuel to the freedom movement. At the same time, they waged a war against the inequalities that cankered Indian social life. They stood for justice. Profit was not their main motive. But now everything has changed. Major papers become huge industries and the approach to time – honoured values have undergone a deep change.

Today the social commitment of the media is on the wane and journalism is becoming a mere census of events. Everything is being dragged into controversies by the media. In an unholy hurry to add spice to news they stir up quarrels and rivalry among the people who constitute our multilingual and multi-racial society.  By sensationalising news they are doing irreparable damage to the unity and solidarity of our motherland.  The Press is sometimes caught in the lure of monetary benefits and forgets that its primary duty is to inform the people right things at the right time in right proportion.  The duty of the Press to help the democratic process still remains a far cry owing to corruption. News and comments are mixed up. It is not easy to separate them even to the alert reader.  The collective credibility is loosing as a result of the malpractices of sensationalism and trivialisation of news items.  To attract advertisements the media houses do not hesitate to stoop law.  In such a dismal atmosphere we are once again persuaded to turn to Gandhi’s guidance and ideals.

Now, it is not easy to separate sponsored news, professional news and real news. Even the Press Council of India, member Paranjoy Guha Thakurta is worried about the flow of advertisements: “If a newspaper is really a product, at least say what its ingredients are. Write that it’s a sponsored feature when giving an advertorial”. An advertisement culture is prevailing in the field. As a result the social commitment is diluted.  Globalisation and liberalization are the straws that break the camel’s back. Multinational companies used the media to change the mind-set of the people. They loot the resources of the country. They use advertisements for selling their products and  making profit. Unhealthy competition seen in every field is highly detrimental to social well-being, which will ultimately strike at the very root of the freedom of the Press and of expression as a whole.

Gandhi never over politicised things as the present day media does. He was keen to guide the society and even the government by giving a sense of direction to them. Issue after issue of ‘Young India’ and ‘Navajivan’ carried glints as exhortations to the government to do what was “just and righteous.” He fought against the social evil of untouchability while spearheading political agitations and satyagraha. He condemned power politics and advocated enlightened politics in its place.

Today the market forces decide everything in the journalistic field. Ethics gives way to economics. The media field is highly commercial in nature.  Here again Gandhian legacy should be a beacon light to all budding journalists.  Profit motive should be subordinated to ethical values. Gandhiji’s fearlessness and truthfulness in reporting and publishing news even at the cost of his own personal interest are worth emulating.  “If I were appointed dictator for a day in the place of the Viceroy, I would stop all newspapers.” [19]  Gandhi’s moral anger exploded at a prayer meeting in New Delhi in 1946.  We can only say that there was no politician more human and no human being more political than Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi looked upon journalism as a means to serve the people. His journalistic experiments were aimed at the welfare of the common man. Today the media shuns the grass root level reporting. Data based rural reporting and social auditing by the media can reduce corruption in the local bodies. This will become very much helpful to the poor and marginalized segments in the society. The media density in Kerala is very high. But even in this State media is slow and hesitant in standing by the interests of the lower strata. There are 999 Gramapanchayats in the State. On an average one crore rupees per year is budgeted for developmental activities in each panchayat in the State. But unfortunately, the major part of this allocation does not reach the grass-root level. Owing to the emergence of citizen journalism such acts of injustice get public attention.  It is becoming an effective tool of social empowerment and holds out a ray of hope for the future.

Gandhi viewed journalism very seriously. His approach was unbiased. He was growing through writing. He wrote about it in his auto-biography: “‘Indian opinion’ was a part of my life. Week after week I poured out my soul in its columns and expounded the principles and practice of satyagraha as I understood it. During 10 years, that is until 1914, excepting the intervals of my enforced rest in prison there was hardly an issue of Indian opinion without an article from me. I cannot recall a word in these articles set down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely to please. Indeed the journal became for me a training in self restraint and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts”[19] In ‘Young India’, Gandhi once gave a glimpse of the exacting code he had set up for himself. “To be true to my faith, I may not write in anger or malice. I may not write idly. I may not write merely to excite passion. The reader can have no idea of the restraint I have to exercise from week to week in the choice of topics and my vocabulary. It is a training for me. It enables me to seek into myself and to make discoveries of my weaknesses. Often my vanity dictates a smart expression or my anger a harsh adjective. It is a terrible ordeal but a fine exercise to remove these weeds.”[19]

Now we shall briefly discuss Gandhi’s peculiar style of language. He was a natural writer in Gujarati but he had good felicity in the English language too. There was not only character but strength of personality in whatever he wrote. To read him was to learn how to use words correctly, with scrupulous regard for their exact meaning. He scorned ornamentation and avoided rhetorical devices. Yet, there was eloquence in all that he wrote, compelling clarity and persuasiveness. There was something biblical in the solemn, little sentences and those grave words which breathed and burned and sang. He coined memorable phrases as a journalist – “Satanic Government” and “lionine violence” were two of them. There were memorable outbursts of lyrical, literary feeling as in his controversy with Tagore and in his indignant expostulations to the British. He had the true journalistic sense of drama and even the headlines he gave his articles made history – “Disaffection a virtue,” Tampering with Loyalty” and “Shaking the Manes.” He had to face prosecution for his innovations. One of the greatest headlines of all times was “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”. In short, there was grace in whatever he wrote; there was also masculinity. He was as wise and simple as Solomon; he was as artless as Thoreau; always he had the power of kings and prophets.[19]

The newspaper gets its soul from truthfulness, bravery, eagerness to do good things, respect to opposition and service mentality. It is an accepted fact, Gandhi had all these qualities. So Gandhian journalism is replete with life and soul. Let us be clear in our minds that to confine Mahatma Gandhi to India and to view him as merely as a great Indian National leader is to undermine his greatness. Gandhi belonged to the whole world, the humanity at large and even to the generations to come. Gandhi was one of the greatest activists, who fought for change from outside the traditional halls of power, who was bound to an abstract vision for which he would pay any price including his life. The world that revered few men had revered Gandhi. Although Gandhi died believing his lone voice was unheard – he was mistaken; the power of his message would endure to move men and nations for all times to come. This is true in the case of his contribution to journalism also.

Gandhi was a journalist who went to jail for writing Truth. Today the world seems to echo Gandhi’s firm conviction that truth must be protected legally. Time testifies that truth will triumph. Gandhi believed that the media must always be ready to impose self- restrictions. This view has come to be widely accepted now. Today the modern media and telecommunication intrude into people’s private life, causing great damage to human dignity. Gandhi foresaw such a danger and condemned that practice. He never tolerated any deviation from principles and journalistic ethics. He believed that it was the responsibility of every person associated with the media to act responsibly with a sense of duty towards the society and the nation. In an ideal set-up journalists are vigilant watchdogs of civil liberties, morality and truth. Gabriel Marcase said that the best profession in the world is journalism. Gandhi never said so. But he illustrated it through life-long experiments in journalism. These experiments will certainly guide many resourceful people in future to escape from the present journalistic aberrations. The researcher is absolutely confident that such missions will be enthroned in the fullness of time, in its rightful position of excellence and eminence.

References

[19]          Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol.43, p.385

[19]       R.K.Prabhu & U.R. Rao, The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad, p.458

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, Hind Swaraj and Other Writings, Chapter V, P.30

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 23, p.493

[19]       The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol. 23, p.342

[19]      ibid, vol.26, pp.370-371

[19]       Dr. Sebastian Paul: ‘Madhyama Vicharam – Peelathos Ezhuthiyathu Ezhuthi’ – (Malayalam Book), Lavanya Publicaitons Kochi, 2008, p.173

[19]       ‘Truth is God, Ed. R.K. Prabhu, 1955, p.36.

[19]       Outlook magazine, 21 December 2009, p.34

[19]       A Week with Gandhi, Louis Fischer, Dual Sloan and Pearce, London, p. 147

[19]       Mahatma Gandhi – The journalist: S.N. Bhattacharya, Manak Publicaitons Pvt. Ltd. Vijay Chowk, Lakshmi Nagar, New Delhi, P. 39.

[19]       M.K. Gandhi, An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Navajivan Publishing House, Ahemedabad, p. 127

[19]       ‘Young India’, June 27, 1929, p. 112

[19]       M. Chalapathi Rao, ‘The Press in India, Allied Publishers Private Limited, Bombay, 1968, P.76.