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Incisive Tome On Odia Journalism

Updated: October 12, 2013 3:40 pm

History is much more than a mere recount and linear narrative of events. It shows how the present got shaped and what the future shall be. But writing history is difficult in India, more so in Odisha. No surprise, as one tries to read history of journalism in Odisha, one discovers that there are only a few books. Considering the fact that modern journalism in the true sense commenced in Odisha in mid-nineteenth century, there are not even half a dozen books detailing its history. It seems ironical, for we are a country with a rich history. Probably because we have a long history, we do not value history much. We lack a sense of history and rely largely on collective memory.

But history refines our understanding of issues, events and the resultant consequences. It needs perspective to understand issues and events. History provides that perspective and a 360 degree view. Against this backdrop, this is the most comprehensive book for history of Oria journalism. Since the writer has come to journalism education after putting in many years in the profession, the book contains a 360 degree view of challenges of the profession and also of academics.

The 303-page book is divided into 21 chapters. This book has chapters on Radio, Television, New Media Journalism, News Agencies, Journalism Education, Journalists’ Association, Women in Journalism, Journalism in specialised fields (Business, Entertainment, Sports), Photojournalism, Cartoon and Cartoonists, Column and Politics and Journalism. The book also contains brief history of several language journalism including Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Assamese, Punjabi and Konkani.

The book provides insight into the first Odia newspaper, Utkal Deepika. It was published on August 14, 1865, when Odisha was afflicted with many problems. A devastating famine was underway, which wiped out one third of the population of Odisha. Odia language was under attack and Odia literature needed a strong fillip. The society was weighed down by superstitions and needed reform. It was in this critical juncture that Utkal Deepika took birth and played a very significant role in socio-political life of Odisha. The book further informs how in 1913 a new phase of journalism began in Odisha under the leadership of Sashibhusan Rath, one of the doyens of Odia journalism. On April 13, 1913, he published the weekly Asha, which enjoyed the support and patronage of stalwarts of that time like Pt Gopabandhu Das, Pt Nilakantha Das, Pt Godavarish Mishra, all of them great freedom fighters and scholars. However, the growth of newspapers and journalism was very slow in initial years. In spite of daunting challenges, journalism in Odisha began its journey.

History of Journalism in Odisha maps the status of journalism in Odisha till mid-2013, encompassing print, radio, television and new media. It endeavours to provide a ringside view to the exciting and fascinating world of journalism in Odisha, and to a large extent of India and to some extent of the world. It helps know the history of Odia journalism and also understand the factors impacting the course of history.

By Ashok Kumar

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