[PDF Notes] What are the General & Administrative Functions of the Newspaper?

A newspaper is, of all modern private institutions, most comprehensive in function and complicated in principle. Although the existence of a newspaper is subject to economic problems right from the first issue until it comes have a very large circulation, primarily it is a vehicle for the satisfaction of human wants.

It performs this function in three ways: firstly, the news­paper is a collector and distributor of news and in this function it beats every possible rival except perhaps the radio and the T.V. Secondly, it is a vehicle of opinion and in virtue of this capacity, it often becomes the victim of the mighty or of the long purse, although occasionally, it enjoys the capacity for resistance to outside pressure-a factor which guarantees to it more independence than sometime appears on the surface. Thirdly, a newspaper serves as the great introducer of business from one trader to another.

In modern businesses, the annual amount spent on advertising in general, and newspapers in particular, runs into millions of rupees. It is only recently that Radio and T.V. commercials have started sharing a good part of this amount. It is the existence of this colossal revenue which makes possible the costly task of collecting and transmitting the news of the world from all places to all other places at once.

It is common place that the small amount paid by each reader for the purchase of his newspaper, journal or periodical whatever it may be, would be very far from defraying the expenses of providing him with all that he finds in it.

The most important and exacting function of the newspaper is the provision of a daily or periodical supply of news-and all the news. The distinction between supply of enough news and all the news is of immense practical importance for a newspaper, because it trebles the difficulty imposed on the producers of the newspaper.

The reader as a general rule consults only a small part of the reading matter of interest to him-sometimes this may be very little in any issue.

The reader therefore commonly receives the impression of a large amount of space regularly wasted, but very few readers are aware of the simple truth-what may be called pure news matter- that almost every issue has had much more ‘copy provided for it and rejected’ as appears in the paper.

The practical task of the editors and sub-editors in making up their daily issues consists not just scrapping together material for the printer but rejecting most of it. This particularly applies to all the evening newspapers wherein many a report or ‘story’ appearing in the early morning is cut down or ‘killed’ before nightfall. However, a newspaper is expected to fulfil its responsibility to provide all news, everything printable that has happened and not kept secret by governments or private parties. There is only one excuse for leaving out an item of news, that is, that more important news has claimed precedence over it and crowded it out.

It is evident, therefore, that the collection of news is, strictly speaking, extra-editorial or, to be more precise, it is under the general but not the immediate direction of the editor. It is an elaborate and al­most automatic system consisting partly of a few world-wide organisa­tions or news agencies functioning for general news which supply the news for the common benefit of a large number of newspapers, and partly of a team of special correspondents attached to each indivi­dual newspaper.

Special correspondents of a newspaper have the function of securing exclusive news for their own newspaper and to emphasise and pay particular attention to that class of news which their paper would consider its strong point.

This may involve, to some extent, duplication or overlapping of news systems but it is a matter of importance for each newspaper to provide special services to the reader which car have access to exclusive ‘stories’ other than those distributed by national or world news agencies.

The stories received from the special correspondents are also a means of directly or indi­rectly influencing public opinion in favour of the policies to which the newspaper may be wedded, or it may help the editorial viewpoint of a newspaper.

If each and every newspaper in a country were required to limit the publication of news subscribed by world-wide agencies or national news agencies, all the newspapers would become stereotyped and there will be no point in having several of them.

It is only in totalitarian regimes like Russia and China that national newspapers bring out millions of copy each morning under government auspices and control, and the dissemination of news and views is thoroughly controlled.

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