Monday, October 3, 2011

The power of language

Through the course of completing my project for Indian regional journalism I was amazed at how the language press in India has developed over its English counterparts in the last 10 years.  The phenomenal growth it has seen and the truth that goes as far as the reportage is considered is truly worth looking at and hence I thought this had to be one of my topics for a feature.
The language press in India started as a means to promote India’s nationalist movement during India’s struggle for Independence. They conveyed the unhappiness and hatred that the Indian people had for the British. Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu etc are all very different from the other but they along with their strong stance against the British rule stood hand in hand throughout the Indian struggle for Independence. But they have today morphed into a vehicle of the views of the people, community or linguistic majority that they cater to.
In a time when the Times of India has sold itself to advertising in the form of private treaties it is very interesting to see that the Indian language press has not let advertising interfere with news in the paper. Of course advertising is the major reason for revenue of these newspapers.  Most of the newspapers are a voice to a specific community, Unlike the English language press where all news is generalized for the every citizen residing in the country. The newspapers voice the views and the opinions of the community that they cater to. The Shiv Sena mouthpiece Samna accommodates not only the views of the Maharasthrian people but also the followers of the political party Shiv Sena. The editorials in the paper are sharp and to the point, written by the editor Bal Thackeray.
The Urdu press in India faces a struggle when it comes to publishing their newspapers. They face financial problems and also a shortage of Urdu speaking journalists. In spite of that they manage to bring to its Urdu speaking readership a crisp newspaper every morning. The Hindustan Daily functions for a small sunny office in south Bombay with a staff of 10 people. One of the biggest issues that the Urdu press faces is that of advertising. The readership of the paper is very large among laborers and artisans, where as big advertisers do not cater to that section of the papers audience. Hence advertising is one of the major areas of worry especially for the Urdu press. 
One of best things about the language press is its significant online presence. The Malayalam and Telugu press have special application that one can download and access on the iPhone, iPad and other forms of technology. Through this they cater to their growing readership in Gulf countries and among people the younger generation who are more tech savvy and prefer reading a community newspaper on-the-go. Online editions also make for a faster source of information to the people who read newspapers in regional languages but do not have immediate access to it
Some of these newspapers have also released online versions; some of them include Malayalam Manorama and Matrubhumi. The malaylam Monorama has close to 9,66,104 daily hits, where as Matrubhumi has 15,04,808 hits daily. . Some of the regional papers that have also moved over to the World Wide Web are Dainak Bhaskar, Inquilab, Sakal, Lokmat, Dinakaran etc. Online editions also make for a faster source of information to the people who read newspapers in regional languages but do not have immediate access to it.

Many of these newspapers have also launched magazines that cater to the different age groups of their readership.  Eenadu released Vasundra for women and Prathiba for students.
The language press has incredible marketing strategies. One very good example is that of Eenadu, the publication makes the use of agents. These agents deliver the paper to the Telugu speaking population in the most remote villages of Andhra Pradesh. It is said that the paper has reached villages where even a public transport bus has not yet reached.
The power of the language press has grown immensely over the last 10 years and has turned out to be a completion for the mainstream press in India. Many of the largest circulated newspaper in India are of the language press. The English mainstream press and the language press must work in tandem to tackle the problems of the people and be a strong voice for them. From its roots in the nationalist movement to its expansion in the last decade the language press still continues to grow.

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