Introduction to Tamil News Media
Before getting into the History of Tamil Print Media, a quick journey to the year 1554 would bring us one of the most fascinating tales. The Europeans, by then, had reached Indian shores and were slowly getting exposed to this resourceful land of diverse cultures and languages. The British were not the only people interested in exploiting India’s riches, there were the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French, among many others, who had come here with a dream of prosperity.
Nonetheless, despite varying motives otherwise, most of these communities were united, or at least similar, on the grounds of their missionary intent—their ambition to spread Christianity among Indians. Surfing the waves of the Enlightenment, the missionaries were quick to realise the role of the printing press in forwarding their motives. Initially, thus, a majority of India’s early press was meant to bring the natives to the part of God, so to say. Eventually, as these communities gained more knowledge about Indian society, their urge to publish in vernaculars gained strength. The result was Lisbon’s first Non-European Publication in 1554—Carthila em lingoa Tamul e Portugues—also known as the first Tamil Booklet. The first newspaper, however, did not come for many years thereafter.
Having played a crucial role in the establishment of London’s The Daily Universal Register (later renamed the Times and presently one of London’s most influential newspapers), Richard Johnson established Madras Courier in 1785. Starting out as a four-to-six-page weekly tabloid, in its early days, this publication came at an unbelievably high price (by contemporary standards) of 1 rupee and was thus available only to the richer sections of the society. That is, its readership was mostly the British.
With its ambitious motto of ‘Quicquid Agunt Homines’, literally meaning ‘Whatever Men Do’, Madras Courier was the first newspaper from the Madras Presidency. It is important to note, however, that the presidency was not limited to Tamil Nadu, but also included Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra-Pradesh, and even present-day Myanmar. With its vast geographical reach, the newspaper remained in circulation for the next 37 years, after which there was a halt. Again, in 2016, a promising team of journalists and filmmakers relaunched the publication digitally.
Ten years after Madras Courier, in 1795, two more weeklies—The Madras Gazette and The Government Gazette—came out from the Madras press. Owned either by British individuals or government officials, all of these predominantly served the purpose bulletin board for the East India Company, as well as the colonial government. There was very little or no focus on regional events and current affairs, let alone concerns.
Since 1836, the situation began to change, starting with the publication of The Spectator from Chennai—the first Indian-owned English-language weekly in the region. In 1853, the publication became the city’s first daily newspaper. Realising the importance of vernacular publications for mass outreach, G. Subramania Iyer started the first Tamil Newspaper—Swadeshmitran—in 1882. Apart from being a renowned nationalist and journalist, Iyer is also the founder of The Hindu.
After independence, upon the disintegration of the Madras Presidency, Tamilnadu became the state for Tamil-language speakers in India, and now has a plethora of Tamil and English newspapers. Today, with strong regional and linguistic sentiments, Tamilnadu is among the leaders of the Indian media. However, thanks to a vast diaspora, the language is not limited to Tamilnadu and there are several Tamil newspapers in Sri Lanka, England, France, and so on.
In this article, we present a comprehensive list of Tamil and English newspapers and news Sites, currently operating in the state, under the following categories:
- Tamil Newspapers in India
- Tamil News Sites in India
- International Tamil Newspapers and New sites
A. Tamil Newspapers in India
Under this category, we discuss some of the major, medium, and minor newspapers from Tamilnadu. In doing so, we cover both English and Tamil-language newspapers that are presently in circulation.
Daily Thanthi or DinaThanthi (Mail), one of the leading Tamil-language dailies of Tamilnadu, started its journey from Madurai in 1942. Its founder, S.P. Adithanar—a famous lawyer, politician, and minister—was inspired by the famous British national daily, Daily Mirror. The newspaper expanded to Tirunelveli, Madras, Salem, and Tiruchirapalli within a few years of its launch. In turn, these local editions further broadened the publication’s reader base.
Earlier, people from Tamilnadu’s southern districts could only get a day-old newspaper published from Madras. Transforming the scenario completely, Dina Thanthi not only expanded its reach but also revolutionised people’s reading habits.
Attention to detail is a differentiating feature of this newspaper, which is also the reason behind its loyal readership. Specifically, the language used is very simple and easily comprehensible for the common people. In fact, research has shown that even amateur Tamil readers could understand this newspaper. In this way, the newspaper also helped in the spread of literacy in the underdeveloped regions of Tamilnadu.
Currently, under the ownership of Thanthi Trust, Daily Thanthi has further expanded its reach, with a total of sixteen publication centres, located in Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Pondicherry, Coimbatore, Cuddalore, Dindigul, Erode, Madurai, Nagercoil, Salem, Thanjavur, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, Tirupur, and Vellore. Apart from these, keeping in mind the huge Tamil speaking population abroad, an international edition is also printed from Dubai, UAE. According to IRS 2010, the newspaper is the 9th largest read daily and the 3rd largest regional daily in India.
This unprecedented success of the daily was actually a brainchild of Dr Sivanthi Adityan—S. P. Adithanar’s son. Despite being the founder’s son, however, Dr Adityan had a humble beginning to his career, paving his upward journey with immense hard work and consistent learning. In 1959, he not only acquired the newspaper’s ownership but also became its editor. Since then, among other things, he has been responsible for further expanding the daily’s reach with new publication centres around Tamilnadu. In 2008, he received Padma Shri—the fourth-highest civilian award in India—for his outstanding contribution to the field of literature and education.
Founded in 1951 by T. V. Ramasubba Iyer, an Indian freedom fighter and philanthropist, Dinamalar is one of the most popular Tamil dailies with a national presence. Initially, it was published from Thiruvananthapuram before the entire operation moved to Tirunelveli in 1957.
After the death of T.V Ramasubba Iyer in 1984, his son Lakshmipathy became the head of the daily. Presently, in 2020, the daily is owned and published by Professional Publications Private Limited, a company headed by Adimoolam and Ramasabbu, Lakhsmipathy’s sons.
Currently, the daily is published from ten major Indian cities, namely, Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Nagercoil, Pondicherry, Salem, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, and Bangalore. It also has different supplements that are available on specific days of the week. For instance, there’s Vaniga Malar on Monday, Bakthi Malar on Tuesday, Siruvar Malar (Children’s magazine), Metro (Metro Chennai) on Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays, the daily comes with features and magazines like Velai Vaippu malar, Varamalar (Family Magazine), Cinema Pakkam, Kannamma (Women Empowerment feature).
Presently, in 2020, the company has a workforce of more than 1500 people who not only ensure the timely publication of the daily, but also maintain websites, social media pages, and update the different handles of the company.
Recently, however, the media house got involved in some controversies and, in certain cases, faced severe legal actions. In 2018, a sting operation by Cobrapost revealed some uncomfortable footage of Dinamalar’s executives, who agreed to publish and propagate the agendas of the right-wing. It was alleged that the news company received money from a political party to tarnish the image of the opposition leaders.
Some of its reports and cartoons have also stirred controversies by hurting the religious sentiment of certain minority communities. In September 2019, the daily had to go through a series of court trials. A judicial magistrate in Krishnapuri had sentenced the editor and publisher of the newspaper to a two-year’s imprisonment in response to a defamation case filed by a police inspector. Dinamalar, in its daily feature called Tea Kadai Bench, a column dedicated for political gossip, published a false report without any evidence against a police officer, alleging him to be an illicit liquor trader.
Nonetheless, despite all hurdles, the daily continues to top the list when it comes to circulations and profits. Going by the circulation report published in 2016, it has a circulation of 942,812 which makes it one of the most read regional dailies of India.
Maalaimalar started its journey from Coimbatore in 1977, under the patronage of S. P. Adithanar. The Daily Thanthi Group—also founded by Adithanar—is the overseer of this famous Tamil-language evening daily. Presently, the publication has editions, published from Chennai, Vellore, Dindigul, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli, Coimbatore, Erode, Madurai, Nagercoil, Puducherry, Salem, and Tiruchirapalli.
To be at par with the current ways of newspaper publication, the daily also has a website which facilitates a systematic coverage of news from different categories. Along with a separate section called ‘Breaking News’, the website also has categories like News, Cinema, Spirituality, Astrology, Health, Video, Technology, and also the latest addition called COVID-19 Help. Its online presence is further expanded through the different social media pages with regular updates related to the Tamil world. The daily has accounts, pages, and channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube. This helps to broaden the reach of the daily and ensures better communication with the readers.
On Instagram, the daily boasts of 124K followers. On Facebook, it runs two separate pages called Malai Malar news and Malai malar Cinema. Both the pages have a follower count of 3,626,582 and 61,196 respectively. On YouTube, the Malai Malar channel has 186K subscribers and has an array of videos in Tamil language covering diverse topics. Twitter remains one of the most important platforms for Malai Malar as it has 255K followers and all the important news is first published there.
Founded in the pre-independence times, in 1933, and continuing its journey to date, Dinamani is one of the leading Tamil dailies. The New Indian Express Group—which also publishes The New Indian Express, an English newspaper from Chennai—owns and publishes Dinamani under the banner of Express Publications. Presently, in 2020, this Tamil daily is published not only in Tamilnadu but also across India—Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Dharmapuri, Madurai, New Delhi, Tirunelveli, Tiruchirapalli, Vellore, and Villupuram.
A synonym of “Sun”, the name, “Dinamani”, was coined by D.S. Atchayalingam. It was chosen to emphasize the inevitability and regularity of the daily. Even today, there are many Tamilians who literally start their day after reading this newspaper.
Like several other Indian newspapers, especially the ones in Tamil, Dinamani played a very crucial role in the freedom struggle against British rule. In those days, and to an extent even today, this newspaper is seen as a voice of the common people of Tamilnadu. In fact, Dinamani has been one of the greatest contributors to the forging of a Tamil identity in the region. Primarily, this was due to its continuous effort of publishing news in the Tamil language.
Building on its promising start, the daily began making an indelible mark on the fabric of Tamil print media under the editorship of RmT Sambandham or Irima. Among other things, Sambandham was a proponent of rationalist philosophy and worked extremely hard to impart the newspaper an unbiased point of view. Furthermore, he was an ardent follower of Periyar—one of South India’s most celebrated personalities and the leader of the Self-Respect movement in the region—which also significantly shaped his views on journalism.
Alongside the print publication, the newspaper also has a website. Here, they publish news and current affairs from Tamilnadu, as well as from other parts of India and the world, under categories such as Current News, Articles, India, Cinema, Sports, Spirituality, Astrology, and Placement. Keeping pace with the time, the website also regularly uploads a daily e-Paper for the readers.
Ensuring a wide digital outreach and online presence, the publication also has Facebook and Twitter pages to connect to its followers. On Facebook and Twitter, it has a total follower count of 258,668 and 153.2K respectively. Apart from these, it also maintains a YouTube channel with 28.8K subscribers and an Instagram profile with 11.6K followers.
In terms of popularity and readership, the Tamil daily, Dinakaran, ranks second, right after Daily Thanthi. The history of both newspapers is also connected.
Dinakaran started its journey in 1977 under the leadership of K.P. Kandasamy who was the son-in-law of S.P. Adithanar, the founder of Daily Thanthi. In Tamilnadu, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam or DMK is one of the most influential political parties. In 1972, the party got divided and a new political party—Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDMK)—was formed. S.P. Adithanar, as a politician and also as the owner of Daily Thanthi, chose to support the AIDMK. On the other hand, it was at this time that K.P. Kandasamy—being in favour of the DMK—came out of Daily Thanthi group and established Dinakaran as an independent newspaper.
Presently, in 2020, the Chennai-based Sun TV Network—one of the largest mass media companies of India—is the owner of Dinakaran. A famous politician himself, as well as a renowned publisher in Tamilnadu, Kandasamy’s son—K.P.K. Kumaran—is the current overseer of this newspaper’s operations.
Since Kandasamy’s times, the daily has been running quite successfully and has established its position as one of the most-read Tamil dailies of the world. Currently, the daily is published from twelve cities in India, namely, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Nagercoil, Puducherry, Salem, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, and Vellore.
According to data from 2014, Dinakaran’s total circulation was 1,215,583. Moreover, as the newspaper itself declared in March 2010, it had a total readership of 16,741,000.
Alongside the vast reach of the print newspaper, Dinakaran is also active in maintaining a substantial online presence, thus expanding its reader base even further. For this, it has an active website where news of different categories is published online. Cinema, Education, Astrology, Spirituality, District, Medical, Cooking, Women, Travel, and World Tamil are some of the most prominent categories on Dinakaran’s online portal. The daily also has Facebook and Twitter pages with 4,074,756 and 385.7K followers to circulate news through social media platforms. Lastly, it has an android app that can be installed by those who wish to access the newspaper on their mobile devices, on the go.
The Hindu Tamil
The Hindu Tamil, also known as Hindu Tamil Thisai, is a comparatively new endeavour. The first issue of the newspaper came out on 16th September 2013. Headquartered in Chennai, the daily is presently published from Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, and Tirupati.
Ownership & Coverage
This newspaper is a part of the Hindu group—one of the most powerful media houses of India—which is owned by Kasturi and Sons Pvt. Ltd. The group is renowned for its vast expanse and truthful, unbiased reporting that has set a very high standard for all the national and regional media houses of India. The launch of Hindu Tamil Thisai makes it clear that the group now has the ambition to expand into the regional markets.
The Hindu Tamil covers all sorts of regional, national as well as international events divided under categories like Business, Education, Sports, Quiz and Entertainment. However, its operation is not limited to the domain of print media publication. Like its competitors, it also has a vibrant website full of news, events, and current affairs. Divided into different categories, the website has sections like cinema, sports, spirituality, and also sections highlighting the different supplements of the newspaper.
The daily also has a Facebook page with 2,780,019 followers, a twitter handle with 680.8K followers, an Instagram account with 113K followers, and lastly a youtube channel with 397K subscribers. Apart from these it also has an android app available in google play store that allows the readers to read the newspaper from anywhere at any time.
Started in the late 1990s, Thinaboomi is headquartered in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Along with the newspaper, it has a news portal that covers news of all sorts. The categories available on the website are Tamil Nadu, India, Political, Trade, World, Cinema, Game, Spirituality, E-Paper, and so on.
B. Tamil News Sites in India
Adapting to the Internet’s rapid growth, a majority of present-day media groups have a website to complement their print editions. Moreover, several web-only news portals are also becoming increasingly popular as the new media takes a greater interest in the digital channels and so do its readers. In this regard, the Tamil media is no exception and several Tamil news sites are currently active in India, serving news to a broad section of Tamilians. In this section, we discuss some of the prominent news sites in Tamil.
Launched in 2018, the news portal is a part of the New Generation Media Corporation and is owned by the Chennai-based SRM Group. TR Pachamuthu, the founder of SRM, is among the celebrated figures in Tamilnadu because of his life’s achievements. Apart from the Tamil news site, the portal also has a weekly magazine and a popular infotainment TV channel.
In 2015, Puthiya Thilaimurai themselves appeared in the headlines, after a group hurled tiffin-box bombs at its office. According to the reports, the attack was in response to the company’s plan to host a debate on mangalsutra on one of its TV programmes. Among others, the right-wing Hindu Munnani group led the several protests that followed, during the course of which members of the Puthiya Thalaimurai crew were attacked. Some of the attackers were eventually arrested.
Apart from the website, the publication also has an android app, which not only offers regular updates to its readers but also significantly strengthens its online presence. With over half-a-million visits every month, this news portal is one of the most popular sources of Tamil news. It publishes news under categories like Tamilnadu, India, Cinema, Game, World, CoronaVirus, Business, Crime, District, and so on. Alongside this, the portal also has a dedicated Live TV and Magazine.
Furthermore, the publication is highly active on social media and has accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. On Facebook and Twitter, Puthiya Thalaimurai has 4,062,882 and 964.4K followers respectively. On Instagram and YouTube, it has 539K and 5.49M subscribers respectively.
Founded on 14th August 2008, 4TamilMedia is a transnational online news media initiative, visualised and executed by Indian, Sri Lankan, and Malaysian journalists for Tamilians all over the world. Apart from the website, they publish and circulate news through their social media channels where they have a substantial presence. With a special focus on Indian and Sri Lanka, the portal is a reliable source for international news. It also has special selections for countries with large Tamil populations. With its broad, multi-channel outreach, the portal nurtures a loyal readership that is expanding consistently.
In4Net is an online news portal based in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Owned by Kamalam Infotech, the website covers an array of topics related to news and information. The website has sections like Industry, Agriculture, Technology, Business, and also Lifestyle, which serve news under categories like spirituality, Life, Politics, Tips, Recent News, Stories, and so on. Moreover, In4Net has a substantial presence on popular social media platforms. In4Net has 13,997 and 112K followers on Facebook and Youtube respectively. It also has accounts and handles on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Telegram.
This news website started its journey in 2018. It has several categories like Business, Cinema, Crime, District News, Editorial, Education, Health Tips, Job, and Lifestyle, among others. It also covers news under sections like Politics, Religion, Sports, State, Technology, Uncategorised and World. The group also has pages on Twitter and Facebook through which regular news updates are shared on the social media platforms.
Asianet News Tamil
An initiative of the AsiaNet network, Asianet News Tamil was founded in 2008. Originally based in Kerala, the group has news portals in many languages, including Tamil, and is thus a popular news source in Tamilnadu. The portal has sections like Politics, Cinema, Sports, Business, Lifestyle, Crime, Technology, Astrology, and so on.
Launched in 1997, Chennai Online is one of the oldest online Tamil news portals. It publishes news for Tamilians of India, as well as abroad. The group also runs pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It covers news under categories like Cinema, Chennai-super-startups, Chennai 360, Life, Technology, etc.
Tamil Good Returns
True to its name, this is a dedicated business news portal in Tamil. Apart from news and regular updates, the website also has special services such as EMI calculator, Personal Accounting, Gold/Silver, Banking, and so on. Moreover, it also has a search bar which lets users find the latest equity value for various companies.
Samayam Tamil is a very famous news portal owned by the Times Internet. It is an appendage of the Times Group, one of the largest media houses of India, which also runs the very celebrated Times Of India. Samayam Tamil is committed to publishing news from Tamilnadu for Tamil readers all over the world.
Sumanasa Tamil News
Although it publishes news in several South Indian languages—Malayalam, Telegu, and so on—this portal as a dedicated platform for Tamil news. It mostly does the work of compiling different news articles which are being published on the websites of big media houses like BBC, Zee News, Times Network, etc.
Times Tamil News
The news portal started its journey on 1st October 2017. Headquartered in Chennai, the website has sections like Cinema, Sports, Lifestyle, Spirituality, Crime, Gossip and etc. It also has a separate tab for Tamilnadu and Politics. Apart from this, Times Tamil News has an active Facebook page with 13,525 followers.
Launched on 25th August 2018, Mr Puyal is a web-based news media platform. This Tamil news site has a specific focus on infotainment and also maintains a Facebook page for the purpose. The website has categories like Events, Cinema, Game, Technology, Featured Articles, Medical, Science, Spirituality, and also History.
Theekkathir is a Tamil news portal that is run by the Toiling Masses Welfare Trust, Tamil Nadu. It has sections like Nation, World, Article, Editorial, Political, Economy, Game, Video, etc. Although predominantly a news site, they also have a small print run, which they upload as an ePaper on a separate section of their website.
British Broadcasting Channel also known as BBC is one of the leading news media houses of the World. They have a separate news portal dedicated to Tamilnadu where news of the region is published in the Tamil language. It is very useful for the Tamil diaspora all over the world.
One India Tamil
One India is a multilingual news portal started in the year of 2006. The group runs the news portal titled One India Tamil to facilitate the Tamilians to read the news in their own language. Currently, the site has around 45 million monthly active users.
Founded on 14th April 2000, WebDunia Tamil is committed to present Tamil readers with news of all sorts. The portal compiles news from different sources and publishes them from this website. It has sections like Cinema, Gossip, Entertainment, Health, Sports, Cricket, and Tamil Literature.
C. International Tamil Newspapers and News Sites
As mentioned earlier in the article, Tamilians are not only restricted to Tamilnadu but are also spread all over the world. It is primarily because and for this vast Tamil diaspora, several regional news portals around the world publish news in Tamil. This is especially true of Asian and European countries. After India, Sri Lanka has the second-largest Tamil-speaking population in the world. Consequently, the country has several Tamil newspapers and news sites, of which, the latter is accessible worldwide, including Tamilnadu. Some of the famous Sri Lankan news sites with readership in Tamilnadu are TamilWin, JVP News, IBC Tamil, and Virakesari, among others. Alongside these, there are news sites like Kathivaran, which simultaneously publish news from India and Sri Lanka. For a detailed discussion on these newspapers and more, read our article on Sri Lankan Newspapers.
Apart from Indian and Sri Lankan Tamils, the linguistic group is also spread significantly across Europe, especially in London and Paris. As a result, there are publications such as Vanakkam London (read about this in our article on London Newspapers) and Paris Tamil (read more in our article on Paris Newspapers).
Indeed, the Tamil print media has come a long way. Currently, newspapers and news sites in Tamil have the largest number of readers all over the world. In this globalised world, when most other vernacular languages are struggling to keep their presence, Tamil as a language has done exceptionally well. The Tamil news media—both in India and around the world—has played quite an important role in this regard, shaping the readers’ mind quite effectively.
From the pre-independent times to the twentieth century, Tamil news media has only increased and expanded its course and reach. In fact, it is also among the very few Indian vernacular media which regularly caters to such a massive crowd of international readers. Tamil news media has its vibrant presence not only in India but also in countries like Sri Lanka, England, Singapore, and France. In all, it can very well be said that Tamil news media, which continues to be one of the largest media industries of India, has indeed broken all barriers of nation and region, and gone truly international.
Realizing that the media industry will only keep growing, especially Tamil media, we at MediaBuzz are dedicated to staying right on its tail, to bring to our readers an up-to-date coverage of every possible news source. Our team is built with professional writers who have an unquenchable enthusiasm for finding out trends in the field of journalism.
That being said, we would be more than enthused if help us out in our quest to know more by answering these questions in the comment section:
- Which are the top 3 Tamil newspapers, according to your tastes?
- Have we missed out any relevant news source in our list? Please mention which ones.
- What is your view on the authority’s control over the news in Tamil? What do you think about the political turns of the different newspapers?
- Which Tamil news sources, do you think, are doing the best at maintaining neutrality?
- What do you think about our categorization of news sources in this article? Would you suggest any other category?
- Did any particular newspaper or website catch your attention?
- Do you read any of these Tamil newspapers already? Are any of these your favourite?
- Is there any crucial information we have missed out on, related to Tamil newspapers and news sites in Tamilnadu?
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