Growth of Press and Journalism in Odisha

The growth of press and journalism in Odisha created a landmark in the history of modern Odisha. The initiative was taken by the Christian missionaries who made great contribution in this field. With the establishment of printing press by them, started the story of press and journalism in Odisha. In due course of time vernacular press emerged in Odisha. It also prepared the way for the growth of journalism. The growth of press and journalism in Odisha led to the growth of socio-political consciousness among the people of Odisha.

Beginning of Press and journalism

The Baptist missionaries were the pioneers of establishing printing press in Odisha. At first, they printed religious texts in Odia for the propaganda of Christian ideas. For the first time in 1837, they established a press in Cuttack named the ‘Cuttack Printing Press’ and published the earlier Odia journals. They were the pioneers of press in Odisha.

Development of Press in Odisha

In 1866, the second printing press in Odisha was established which was named as the Cuttack Printing Company. Only after two years in 1868, the third printing press was established at Balasore by the efforts of Fakir Mohan Senapati with the help of local Zamindar and people. After five years of the establishment of that press by Fakir Mohan, another press was established in Balasore in 1873. Between 1873 and 1899 establishment of press in Odisha became rapid.

Growth of vernacular Journals and Newspapers in Odisha

The establishment of the press was a landmark in the history of journalism in Odisha. As stated earlier, the Missionaries had established press in 1837. In the same year the first Odia newspaper named Kujibara Patrika was published by a monk named Sadhu Sundar Das. Then the missionaries published the journal named Jnanaruna in 1849 for the propagation of their religious ideas. They also published two other journals named Prabodha Chandrika and Arunodaya.

A milestone was established in the field of Odia journals when Bichitrananda Das being inspired by T.E. Ravenshaw, the Commissioner of Odisha established the Cuttack Printing Press in 1866. From that press was published Utkala Dipika edited by Gauri Shankar Ray. He was the editor of this journal till his death in 1917. Fakir Mohan Senapati, the ‘Father of Odia Prose’ established a press at Balasore and by the inspiration of John Beams, the Collector of Balasore published two monthly journals named Bodhadayini and Balasore Sambad Vahika.

Later on Sambad Vahika became a weekly journal. This journal remained as an influential journal of Odisha in the last quarter of the Nineteenth century. Cuttack Mission Press launched two periodicals Sevak and Samskaraka. The Sevak was a monthly journal and Samskaraka was a weekly journal.

In 1889, Sambalpur Hitaisini was published under the patronage of King Sudhaladev. It reflected the news and views of the people of Western Odisha. It was edited by Nilamani Vidyaratna. It played a vital role in giving wing to the language agitation in Sambalpur.Similarly receiving the royal patronage of Harihara Mardaraj of Khallikote Prajabandhu was published under the editorship of Vidyaratna. It was meant to check the dominance of the Telgus. Raja Baikuntha Nath De of Balasore set up another press at Balasore and brought out a journal Utkala Darpana in 1873. Utkala Madhupa, Utkala Putra, Kohinur Utkal Sahita, Dainika Asha, Samaj etc. were other journals and newspapers.

Development of English Journals and Newspapers in Odisha

In due course of time, the English journals and newspapers were published in Odisha. Among the leading newspapers and journals, Cuttack Argus (1869), Cuttack Star (1869), Cuttack Standard Odisha Patriot (1866·, Geruem News (1896) and Star of Utkal (1906-1912) were prominent.

Impact of press and journalism

The above publications had far reaching impact upon the people of Odisha which can be discussed bellow:

1. The language agitation at Sambalpur gained momentum due to the Sambalpur Hitaisini. Other Odia journals came forward to give vent to this.

2. The newspapers and journals exposed the black spots of the British administration and made the people cautious. The British Government also became cautious in dealing the public of Odisha. It created the sense of nationalism among the people of Odisha. Through these newspapers and journals, the message of nationalism was spread. The idea of nationalism was injected into the body, mind and soul of the people of Odisha through these writings.

3. The publication of newspaper and journals played a vital role in the amalgamation of Odia speaking tracts. The Utha Kankala poem of Godabarish Mohapatra was a pointer in this direction.

4. The national programmes associated with different Gandhian movements, atrocities during the Salt Satyagraha and Quit India Movement etc. were published in the pages of the newspapers and journals. It flared up nationalism and dragged the people of Odisha to the fold of national movement.

5. The Christian Missionaries and the Brahmo Samajists propagated their religion through the journals and newspapers. These journals and newspapers helped in the spread of Christianity and Brahmo movement.

6. These newspapers and journals made people vigilant regarding the day-to-day happenings. They could know various programmes and information regarding many things from these newspapers and journals.

Credit: Inputs from History of Odisha From 1803 to 1948 by Dr Manas Kumar Das