The Free Press Journal is a contemporary Paper that is rooted in current urban realities. In keeping with the international trend, it has reinvented itself in terms of design, get up and content. It means different thing to different people –A platform for the Articulate, a trendsetter for the young and a chronicle for the old. The Free Press Journal is one of the oldest English Daily newspapers from Mumbai with a heritage of 78 years of Publication.
It was at the forefront of freedom struggle against the British and continues the free and fearless journalism till date. It delivers an array of interesting lifestyle stories from the World of Business with an easily assimilated manner. Swaminath Sadanand 30-year-old idealist from Madras trudged his way to Bombay and with a vision that was to prove uncomfortably ahead of his day, brought out a newspaper as unorthodox in character as it was innovative in concept, for, Swaminath Sadanand the Free Press Journal was not so much a business venture as a cause. The spirit with which he launched the paper and ran it for almost three decades helped make it an integral part of two great Indian movements — the struggle for independence and the evolution of Indian Publishing.
It was appropriate that the birth of the Free Press should have coincided with the rise of Bombay as the nerve centre of the freedom movement. At the turn of that eventful decade, the country had been electrified with the salt satyagraha and by the resurgence of a nationwide civil disobedience campaign it signalled. Analysing the scene, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote: “Bombay occupied the centre of the picture with its tremendous hartals and processions and lathi charges. Much of what was remarkable happened in Bombay and being a great city it had the Advantage of publicity”.
With the drive and tenacity and all-encomposing purposefulness, Sadanand wrote the Free Press into the story of the times. It was by no means the only nationalist newspaper of the day, but Sadanand was one of a kind and he gave it a stamp no other Paper had. It aimed at the common man as its Pricing policy and writing style proclaimed in every issue. It spoke from the heart and did not hesitate to chastise the nation’s idolized leaders if the occasion demanded.
That was part of the uniqueness of the Free Press and it was made possible not only by the personality of its founder but by what Nehru perceived as a special feature of the particular point in time when the paper made its bow. “In 1930”, he wrote in his autobiography, “the national movement in India fitted in for a while with the growing social forces of the country and because of this a greate power came to it, a sense of reality, as if it was indeed marching step by step with history” , Free Press Journal emerged as a truly people’s Paper to Coalesce with the political milieu and join the social forces that carried the Congress to new heights of influence and prestige.
In the process it lighted a spark in the news industry. Not only did Free Press Journal set new standards by opening a full page to sports, another to commercial news at a time when the West enjoyed an unchallenged monopoly in the field of news gathering, Sadanand pioneered the concept of an Indian news agency. His Free Press of India was the first venture of its kind in all Asia. The man he sent to China was the first Asian correspondent to be posted by one Asian country to another. It was a grand vision. If he had lived longer, it might have been carried to fruition one way or another, obviating the need for today’s agonised groping for third-world news agency.
The Free Press institution has been in Bombay’s life and part of it. It is in celebration of this identification that this commemorative volume dwells as much on the story of Bombay as on the story of the Free Press Journal Group. Free Press Group its people oriented from the start. It was appropriate that the birth of the Free Press should have coincided with the rise of Bombay as the nerve center of the freedom movement. At the true of that eventual decade, the country had been electrified.