History of Mass Media

Mass Media contains two words. ‘Mass’ in this context means an aggregation of people. ‘Media’ means various modes of communication. Thus, mass media is a field of mass communication. We can easily send some information to a far away destination through a medium of communication. In the olden days, a crier would run in the streets beating drums and crying out important news according to the orders of the king. The news would spread among people by word of mouth.

Printing technology and newspapers were introduced in India after the arrival of the British. People started receiving printed news through newspapers. Newspapers became the first mass medium of circulating information and knowledge among people.


‘Newspaper’ is a publication, which mainly prints news, editorials, people’s opinions, entertaining or other supplementary content. It is printed and distributed regularly at a definite time. Newspapers provide various local, national and international news. Newspapers are historical documents, which record current events.

Precursors of Newspapers

Before the beginning of the common era there was a custom in Egypt of placing inscriptions with royal decrees at public place. Emperor Asoka also resorted to similar method to reach out to his subjects. In the Roman Empire, royal decrees were written on papers and those were distributed in all regions. They also contained the information of various events taking place in the nation and its capital. During Julius Caesar’s reign newspapers known as Acta Diurna, meaning acts of everyday, used to be placed, at public places in Rome. It was a very effective way of conveying royal commands to people. In the 7th century C.E. royal dictates were distributed among people at public places. In England hand- outs used to be distributed occasionally, giving information about wars or important events. Travellers arriving from faraway would add spice to stories from those places and narrate it to local people. The ambassadors of a king posted at various places would send back important news to the royal court.

Bengal Gazette

The first English newspaper of India was printed on 29th January 1780. It was named as ‘Calcutta General Advertiser’ or ‘Bengal Gazette’. It was started by James Augustus Hickey, an Irish gentleman.


The newspaper ‘Darpan’ was started in 1832 in Mumbai. Balshastri Jambhekar was the editor of Darpan.

The news printed in Darpan can be reviewed to know about the political, economic, social and cultural events of those times.

Here are a few news titles as examples :

  1. The Accounts of Expenditure from Three Administrative Divisions of the East India Company
  2. The Danger of Russian Attack on the Nation
  3. Appointment of a Committee for Cleanliness of the City
  4. Remarriage of Hindu Widows
  5. The Inception of Theatre at Calcutta
  6. Achievements Raja Ram Mohan Roy in England. Reporting of such news throws light on various historical events of those days

Do you know?
Balshastri Jambhekar is referred to as the ‘First Editor’ by virtue of his being the editor of the first Marathi newspaper. His birth date, 6th January is observed in Maharashtra as the ‘Patrakar Din’ (Journalists’ Day).


This newspaper was started by Bhau Mahajan. The history of French revolution and ‘Shatpatre’, the letters by Lokhitvadi (Gopal Hari Deshmukh) aimed at creating social awareness, were published in this newspaper.

‘Dnyanoday’ :

‘Dnyanoday’ printed the map of Asia in 1842 and the map of Europe in 1851. The honour of printing an illustration in an Indian newspaper for the first time, goes to Dnyanoday. The news of installation of telegraph, used for electrically transmitting a news can be seen in Dnyanoday. The news of the starting of railways in India was printed in Dnyanoday under the title, Chakya Mhasoba meaning ‘Mhasoba with wheels’. It had also printed the news of the Indian war of Independence of 1857.

Newspapers, in those times were a very important medium of creating social awareness. A newspaper named ‘Induprakash’ supported widow remarriage in a big way. ‘Deenbandhu’, a newspaper representing the masses of the Indian society (Bahujansamaj), was started by Mahatma Jyotirao Phule’s close associate, Krishnarao Bhalekar. We get to know about the issues relating to the masses through this newspaper.

Kesari and Maratha

Kesari’ and ‘Maratha’, the two newspapers are indicative of an important stage in the history of Indian newspapers before independence. Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Bal Gangandhar Tilak started these papers in 1881. They spoke about the social and political issues of that period. Kesari began to publish articles about the nationwide situations, books in the native languages and the politics in England.

In the 21st century newspapers have continued to fulfil an important role. It was acknowledged the fourth column of democracy.

Magazines and Journals

Magazines and Journals are periodical publications. This category includes publications, which are weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, six monthly, annual, etc. There may be some chronicles which are published at no fixed time.

Balshastri Jambhekar started the first monthly magazine in Marathi. It was named, ‘Digdarshan’. Among the periodicals ‘Pragati’, now a defunct journal, was started (1929) and edited by Tryambak Shankar Shejwalkar. He worte regularly in this historiographical journal of Maharashtra’s history and social movements.

Currently there are many periodicals devoted to Indian history. Marathi journals such as ‘Bharatiya Itihas ani Samskruti’ and ‘Marathwada Itihas Parishad Patrika’ may be cited as examples.

Electronic or Digital Journalism

These are ultra-modern periodicals form a part of Electronic of Digital journalism. History is a prime subject of interest for these periodicals as well. Many web news portals, social media, web channels, ‘You Tube’, etc. make historical content available to the audience/readers.


‘Indian Broadcasting Company’ (IBC), a private radio company was the first one to broadcast daily programmes. Later the same company was taken over by the British Government and named as, ‘Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS). On 8th June 1936 it was renamed, as ‘All India Radio (AIR)’.

After Independence, AIR became an integral part of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India). Initially, it broadcasted Governmental programmes and schemes. It was named as ‘Akashvani’ on the suggestion of the famous poet Pandit Narendra Sharma. Akashvanai broadcasts various entertainment, awareness creating and literary programmes. It also broadcasts special programmes for farmers, workers, the youth and women. The ‘Vividh Bharati’ programmes are broadcasted in 24 regional languages as well as 146 dialects of Indian languages. Lately, various new channels like ‘Radio Mirchi’ are providing radio services.


The ‘Delhi Doordarshan Centre’ was inaugurated by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first Indian President. Doordarshan’s Mumbai centre began to telecast its programmes on 1st May 1972. Colour television was introduced on 15th August 1982. In 1991 the Indian government granted permission to private national and international channels to telecast in India. Thus, it became possible for Indians to watch international events on television.

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