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The Valuable Significance of News

Thursday September 30 2004 08:33 IST

By Karmayogi

A young boy wondered how Gandhiji was known all over India in those days when there was no TV or radio. Even the newspapers reached only a small portion of people in the town. How could everyone in the remote villages know of Mahatma Gandhiji?

It is an instinct of man to know, to continue to know. The word NEWS comes from the root 'new', meaning 'novel'. Man wants to know the new, the novel. It is in line with the constant growth his body is capable of. The Mind's growth is seen in the desire to know the new.

He not only likes to know the new but takes delight in giving it to all others whom he knows. He does it instinctively, instantaneously. Resourceful people applied their mental faculties to the formation of the word NEWS and came up with the explanation that what comes from the four directions is news.

The Oxford Etymological Dictionary says news is novel. Is there a significance for news or value?

Before the advent of the TV, the best source for advertisement in the USA was the New York Times. It was said in those days that word of mouth is more powerful than an advertisement in the New York Times.

The word of mouth is live. It is the very life itself. It is true that after TV came, newspapers lost ad revenue, but there is one more historical phenomenon. When we expect the gate crashing new to wipe out the old, we often see the old does not die a natural death. Sometimes the old shows signs of growth. As the printed word has a fascination for the eye, TV will not wipe out the newspaper.

For a while, as the world has witnessed, it also grows. Man and his instinct remaining the same, nations pass through several historical phases. The Indian climate now prefers local news, not national news as before.

Nehru once said that newspapers in India had not shown any maturity except one, which distinguished itself in News Service. The role of a newspaper is so wide that the important news service becomes one portion of it. A newspaper in Bombay that focussed on local news boomed. Papers that emphasise national news do not get that impetus. MAN values local news very much.

The national news too is important for him for its view on the drift of things. The art of fashioning the local news from the point of view of national news makes it most meaningful to man. Such a newspaper will capture the imagination of the entire nation and even abroad.

Manchester Guardian and The Christian Science Monitor seem to have a glimpse of this truth. Hence their value for readers.

The evolutionary urge for news is the positive side of the itch for gossip. Both are equally pervasive. We see the reality of the gossip, not the possibility of the higher urge for news.
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