After 10 years of relentless crusade, Gandhi realised that the twin tasks of mobilizing public opinion and influencing official decisions required a regular newspaper. Thus was born Indian Opinion in June 1903. He was clear about the nature and content of his newspaper. It would not carry any advertisements nor try to make money.
Instead, he sought subscribers who would give donations. It was while writing in Indian Opinion that Gandhi stumbled on the concept of satyagraha.
Writing on satyagraha in South Africa, he said: "Indian Opinion was certainly a most useful and potent weapon in our struggle."
The journal was to Gandhi "a mirror of his own life".
In My Experiments with Truth, he wrote: "Week after week I poured out my soul in its columns and expounded the principles and practice of satyagraha as I understood it. I cannot recall a word in these articles set down without thought or deliberation or a word of conscious exaggeration, or anything merely to please. Indeed, the journal became for me a training in self-restraint and for friends a medium through which to keep in touch with my thoughts."
Indian Opinion lasted for 11 years. It more or less forced the South African provincial regimes to modify their repressive laws against Indians. One day Gandhi got a call from Bihar where the Indigo farmers of Champaran were subjected to the same kind of indignity and exploitation as the indentured labourers in South Africa.
He promptly went there and investigated the issues, and produced a report that would be the envy of the greatest investigative journalist anywhere in the world. After Champaran it was only a matter of time before the Mahatma took to journalism as his most potent weapon of satyagraha.
As coincidence would have it, Gandhi was persuaded to take over the editorship of Young India. Simultaneously, he started to edit and write in Navajivan, then a Gujarati monthly.
Gandhi's writings in it were translated and published in all the Indian language newspapers. Later Navajivan was published in Hindi, as Gandhi was convinced that Hindi would be the national language of free India.
The Mahatma's crusade for the repeal of the Press Act of 1910 was a unique piece of journalism. He was telling the rulers that it was in the best interests of the government to repeal the law.
issue of Young India and Navajivan carried samples of
the Mahatma's journalistic genius which blended seemingly earnest appeals
to the government to do what was "just and righteous".