HOW WOULD I JUDGE A GOOD NEWSPAPER? Technology has given immense new possibilities to the newspaper and it has thus increased its power. But what we often see today is the deteriorating morality of the press, represented by a number of newspapers in almost every country. These do a disservice to the public by being part of the cheap press and their aim is to make money, to mislead people, to exaggerate events, to publish abusive advertising. But a good number of other newspapers aim at high levels of respectability.
We may judge a good newspaper by the standards it tries to uphold as well as by comparing it with the defects of other newspapers. I think a good newspaper should aim at variety. The first newspapers, almost everywhere, were understandably limited and were aim at a small number of readers, especially man. Now, the newspapers, for obvious reason, aims at the entire population. A good one employs a large staff or journalist – “correspondence, reporters, editors and photographers” – so as to publish a variety of fresh news all the time. A newspaper declines if it does not capture the imaginations of the readers.
Its aim is to appeal to a large circle of readers – from the child to the old man, from the factory worker to the office manager. To cater for all taste is difficult but it is one of a test of a good newspaper. The reader wants to get as much information and as many views as possible on a large variety of topics. We can judge or differentiate the good from the bad newspaper. The cheap newspaper thrives on sensationalism. It tries to be popular by publishing sensational news which catches attention either by the headlines or by the scandalous aspects of the information.
Often, the sensational headlines have no relation with the article itself; or the article itself may be of poor journalistic composition. It appeals to people thirsty for gossip and has no real informative value. Seriousness, therefore, and a sense of purpose are essential characteristics of a good newspaper. It should avoid all sensationalism, by no giving exaggerated publicity and importance to events which do not deserve it. A good newspaper, in my view, therefore should give truthful news and thus develop the important quality of credibility and news worthiness.
The chief editor has an important responsibility towards the public. If he deliberately publishes distorted news, he is cheating the readers. He betrays the trust people have in his newspapers. A respectable newspaper will not miss in for its readers. Some journalists deliberately suppress news of events or distort them to suit their own purposes, political or otherwise. This is a shameful practice of dishonest journalism. The good newspaper will have correspondence and reporters who attach great importance to objectivity and precision in news.
I think also that a good newspaper should show a sense of balance in its layout. If there is an excess of advertisement, the newspaper loses its value and fails in its first duty of providing news and information. Advertisement is necessary because it is to a certain extent informative and helps to defray the high costs of publication, but it should not be abused. Instead, the newspaper should publish many items of news of an informative and practical nature. The newspaper in this way is really helpful to the readers for the day.
Good editors today pay attention to the look of front page as well as insight pages. Color photographs, when well used, enhance the presentation of a newspaper. The newspaper has a national audience and sometimes international one. So, its readers include all classes of people – the educated and less educated. It must therefore be written in a simple and clear but correct style. It must set the example for correct linguistic usage in the country. Much of the respectability of a newspaper lies in the language it uses.
A good newspaper becomes with time a national institution, and it must therefore be a model in a number of fields. This does not prevent it from publishing regularly articles of a scholarly nature, though these will be above the comprehension of the average newspaper. However, the newspaper must not become a specialized publication for one small group of scholars. Decidedly, the main and most significant criterion to judge the good standard of newspaper is the way is deals with public opinion. We are all ware of the tremendous power of the press for good or evil.
We know the dishonest partisan journalist can create confusion in the people’s minds. Hence, the role of the newspaper is to inform, form and guide public opinion, especially in matters of great national or international interest. In regular editorials mainly, the newspaper must explain the nature of any problem clearly so that the readers may understood the situation equally clearly. This helps in making people participate in the political and other criticizes when criticism is needed and it praises if praise is justified.