The growth of the press and journalism in Odisha marked a watershed moment in the state’s modern history. Christian missionaries, who have made significant contributions in this field, took the initiative. They began the storey of press and journalism in Odisha with the establishment of a printing press. In due course, Odisha developed a vernacular press. Additionally, it paved the way for the development of journalism. The development of the press and journalism in Odisha resulted in the development of socio-political consciousness among the Odia people.
The origins of the press and journalism
Baptist missionaries were instrumental in establishing the first printing press in Odisha. They began by printing religious texts in Odia for the purpose of spreading Christian ideas. They established a press in Cuttack in 1837, dubbed the ‘Cuttack Printing Press,’ and began publishing the earlier Odia journals. They established the press in Odisha.
Development of Press in Odisha
In 1866, Odisha’s second printing press, the Cuttack Printing Company, was established. Only two years later, in 1868, Fakir Mohan Senapati established the third printing press in Balasore with the assistance of the local Zamindar and populace. After five years, Fakir Mohan established another press in Balasore in 1873. Between 1873 and 1899, press establishment in Odisha accelerated.
In Odisha, the growth of vernacular journals and newspapers
The establishment of the press was a watershed moment in Odisha’s journalism history. As previously stated, the Missionaries established a press in 1837. The same year, a monk named Sadhu Sundar Das published the first Odia newspaper, Kujibara Patrika. The missionaries then established the journal Jnanaruna in 1849 for the purpose of disseminating their religious ideas. Additionally, they published two additional journals, Prabodha Chandrika and Arunodaya.
In 1866, Bichitrananda Das, inspired by T.E. Ravenshaw, the Commissioner of Odisha, established the Cuttack Printing Press. Utkala Dipika, edited by Gauri Shankar Ray, was published by that press. He was the journal’s editor until his death in 1917. Fakir Mohan Senapati, dubbed the ‘Father of Odia Prose,’ established a press in Balasore and, with the encouragement of John Beams, the Collector of Balasore, published two monthly journals, Bodhadayini and Balasore Sambad Vahika.
Sambad Vahika later evolved into a weekly journal. In the final quarter of the nineteenth century, this journal remained an influential publication in Odisha. Sevak and Samskaraka are two periodicals published by Cuttack Mission Press. The Sevak was a monthly publication, while the Samskaraka was a weekly publication.
Under the patronage of King Sudhaladev, Sambalpur Hitaisini was published in 1889. It reported on the news and expressed the opinions of the people of Western Odisha. Nilamani Vidyaratna edited it. It was instrumental in igniting the language agitation in Sambalpur. Similarly, under the editorship of Vidyaratna and with the royal patronage of Harihara Mardaraj of Khallikote Prajabandhu, a book was published with the royal patronage of Harihara Mardaraj of Khallikote Prajabandhu. It was intended to check the Telgus’ dominance. In 1873, Raja Baikuntha Nath De of Balasore established another press and published the journal Utkala Darpana. Other journals and newspapers included Utkala Madhupa, Utkala Putra, Kohinur Utkal Sahita, Dainika Asha, and Samaj.
English Journals and Newspapers
English journals and newspapers were eventually published in Odisha. Cuttack Argus (1869), Cuttack Star (1869), Cuttack Standard Odisha Patriot (1866), Geruem News (1896), and Star of Utkal (1906-1912) were prominent among the leading newspapers and journals.
The press and journalism have an impact.
The preceding publications had a profound effect on the people of Odisha, as discussed below:
- The Sambalpur language agitation gained momentum as a result of the Sambalpur Hitaisini. Other Odia journals have come forward to express their outrage.
- Newspapers and journals exposed the British administration’s flaws and instilled a sense of caution in the populace. The British government also became more circumspect in its dealings with the Odisha public. It instilled a sense of nationalism in the Odia people. The message of nationalism was spread via these newspapers and journals. Through these writings, nationalism was instilled in the body, mind, and soul of the Odia people.
- Newspapers and journals were instrumental in the amalgamation of Odia-speaking tracts. Godabarish Mohapatra’s Utha Kankala poem was a pointer in this direction.
- National programmes commemorating various Gandhian movements, atrocities committed during the Salt Satyagraha, and the Quit India Movement, among others, were published in newspapers and journals. It sparked nationalism and drew the Odisha people into the fold of the national movement.
- Through journals and newspapers, Christian Missionaries and Brahmo Samajists spread their religion. These journals and newspapers played a significant role in the spread of Christianity and the Brahman movement.
- These newspapers and journals increased people’s awareness of daily events. They could learn about a variety of programmes and information about a variety of subjects from these newspapers and journals.