The primary function of a news agency is to provide news reports of current events to newspapers and others who subscribe for its service; news agencies are therefore expected to work with integrity and disinterestedness, besides being as comprehensive in their coverage as possible.
K. C. Roy was the dominant figure in the formation of news agencies in India. In sending news, in getting it from the highest sources in the land, and in transmitting it, he was considered exceptionally agile and intelligent.
Some of the major news agencies in India are:
A Non-Aligned News Agencies Pool has been set up to exchange news between the news agencies of Non Aligned countries. India has played a vital role in the creation and expansion of this pool.
PTI offers its news services in English and Hindi languages. 'Bhasha' is the Hindi language news service of the agency. A network of 140 bureaus, over 400 journalists, about 300 part-time correspondents, and a support staff of 1,200 keep the agency's teleprinter's ticking on a round-the-clock basis.
Besides the news services in English and Hindi languages, the agency provides photos, features, graphics and publishes economy and science service journals.The features and graphics are offered as weekly mailer packets, and the economy and science services are fortnightly. PTI also brings out 'Data India' as a weekly India reference publication. In addition, the agency offers a news service on VDUs called news-scan. Stock market information can likewise be seen on screen in PTI-stockscan.
PTI is a leading participant in the Pool of News Agencies of the non-aligned countries and the Organisation of Asia-Pacific News Agencies. The agency contributes its news to these two multilateral news exchange arrangements, and distributes the news in turn.
UNI launched a full-fledged Indian language news service, Univarta, in Hindi in May 1982. This was followed up a decade later with the launching of an Urdu service on teleprinter for the first time in the world. Other teleprinter services of the news agency include Unifin, a specialised service for banking, financial and commercial organisations, as well as Unistock, a service for stock exchanges and brokers.
In July 1986, UNI started its television wing which provides news features, newsclips and documentaries for Doordarshan and other organisations. Another specialised service run by the news agency is Uniscan, a news service fed into television sets. A National Photo Service started in 1987 is another pioneering venture.
UNI has a number of mailer services, the oldest of them being backgrounders. UNI backgrounders in both English and Hindi, are issued once a week. Other mailer services are: UNI Agriculture Service in English, UNI Economic Service and UNI Energy News Service. It also supplies UNI graphics-computer designed graphics in ready-to-use form on economic and other topical subjects on a regular basis.
An elected body known as the Coordinating Committee with an elected chairman as its head has been constituted to coordinate the activities of the pool. The committee meets at least once in a year and its meetings are open to all participants.The chairman and members of the committee are elected during the general conference held at the end of every three years.
India has played a vital role in the creation and expansion of the Pool. So far 12 satellite links and four terrestrial links have been established with news agencies of Indonesia (Antara), Yugoslavia (Tanjug), Cuba (Prensa Latina), Bahrain (GNA), Sri Lanka (Lankapuvath), Vietnam (VNA via Kyodo), Malaysia (Bernama), London (PTI Bureau) and Zimbabwe (ZIANA). In addition there are terrestrial links with Bangladesh (BSS), Nepal (RSS) and Afghanistan.
India News Pool Desk is operated by the Press Trust of India. It receives news items from the Pool partners. The incoming news traffic in the Pool is about 22,000 words and outgoing is 10,000 words a day. The professional aspect of the News Pool operation in India is the responsibility of PTI.