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Histroy of Orissa Journalism

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In the glorious chapters of the history of journalism in India, Orissa with her history of over one hundred years of journalism occupies a place of pride and honour.In India an Englishman William Bolts in Calcutta made the first attempt for the publication of newspapers in 1776. But he could not succeed due to official restrictions and  obstructions. James Agustus Hicky another Englishman started the 'Bengal Gazette' in 1780. In India an Englishman William Bolts in Calcutta made the first attempt for the publication of newspapers in 1776. But he could not succeed due to official restrictions and  obstructions. James Agustus Hicky another Englishman started the 'Bengal Gazette' in 1780.

Oriya journalism played an important role in moulding socio-political within of the province several and in awakening the people's consciousness in particular. In those days the spirit of social service and missionary zeal solely inspired the great men who had pioneered this noble profession in this part of the country. The whole Orissa heralded a new era of journalism with the introduction of a handwritten newspaper called 'Kujibar Patra' edited by Sadhu Sunder Das, a social reformer of that time in 1769. The same newspaper had irregular frequency (sometimes daily, weekly, and fortnightly) was being published from Kujibar Ashram near Chowdwar. Since the printing machine was not available in Orissa, it was written on coarse paper in Oriya language and distributed in different central places of bazaars, the missionary centres and mission homes of Cuttack town and to the rulers and disciples. This hand-written newspaper had such a great influence on the then missionary activities that the missionaries were translating the news items and sending to London and those were published and commented in London Baptist Missionary Reports and Journals. Rev. A. Sutton had a remarkable piece of translation from the 'Kujibar Patra' in 1927 which was sent to the Baptist Mission in London. It  is believed that some copies of Kujibar Patra is at present available at India House Library in London.

In 1861 five years before the catastrophic famine of Orissa of 1866 the first Oriya Magazine of Orissa 'Bodha Dayini' was published from Balasore. The main object of this magazine was to spread the Oriya literature and to point out the administrative lapses. Then the most powerful and influential Oriya paper. 'The Utkal Deepika' made its appearance in early 1866 under the able editorship of late Gourisankar Ray with the patronizing helps of late Bichitrananda Das who was the Seristadar of then Revenue Commissioner, T.E. Ravenshaw. 'Utkal Deepika' played a significant role for the  - 2005 amalgamation of outlying Oriya-speaking areas which remained scattered under different provincial administrations.

In 1869 late Bhagavati Charan Das started 'Utkal Subhakari' to propagate Brahmo faith. Another weekly paper 'Sambad Vahika' was published from Balasore in 1868. The Utkal Society of Cuttack published 'Utkal Hiteisini' in 1869. In the last three and half decades of the 19th century a number of newspapers were published in Oriya, prominent among them were 'Utkal Deepika' 'Utkal Patra' Utkal Hiteisini from Cuttack, Utkal Darpan and Sambada Vahika' from Balasore, Sambalpur Hiteisini (30th May, 1889) from Deogarh. The last named Oriya weekly continued for 34 years under the patronage of Sir Sudhal Deb, Raja of Bamra. In 1879 an Oriya fortnightly newspaper called "Mayurbhanj Pakshika Patrika" was published from Baripada being edited by Haraprasad Das with the financial help of Maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanja Deo.

In April 1891 a literary magazine titled 'Utkal Prabha' was published from Baripada with the financial help of Maharaja Sri Ramachandra Bhanja Deo. In 1880 Dina Banerji edited a paper called Bideshi from Cuttack. After 1866 Famine some English journals were also started publishing in Orissa. In 1868 "Cuttack Standard", Argus' and an English Weekly 'Orissa Patriot' edited by Kalipada Banerji were published from Cuttack and another English weekly named 'Orissa Students' edited by Laxmi Narayan Dasgupta was published from Kendrapara during that period.

In the time of Swadeshi Movement another paper named 'Nava Sambad' also appeared from Balasore. Both 'Nava Sambad' of Balasore and 'Utkal Deepika' of Cuttack gave strong support to the 'Swadeshi' movement and in their writings of 30th August 1905 and 2nd September 1905 respectively those two papers expressed the views that the Swadeshi movement would give impetus to the production of "Swadeshi" goods in Orissa. Pandit Nilamani Vidyaratna a veteran journalist, social reformer and a political leader started an Oriya weekly paper 'Praja Bandhu' from Ganjam to espouse the cause of the Oriyas and the amalgamation movement. He also joined the 'Sambalpur Hiteisini' in the last decade of ninteenth century and gave a new fillip to the cause of amalgamation movement and development of Oriya literature with the help of the Raja of Bamra, the great lover of culture and literature. Pandit Vidyaratna had encouraged the great poet Gangadhar Meher and Radhanath Ray by publishing their literary works through the columns of the paper which he edited.

In 1905 Babu Khirod Ray Choudhury published an English newspaper named "Star of Utkal" from Cuttack. During this decade the enterprising Oriya journalists of Ganjam published a number of papers. An English weekly named "Ganjam News" was published from Parlakhemidi, the great seat of Oriya culture, literature and music to support the cause of Orissa. The other papers of Ganjam of that period were Oriya Weekly, "Oriya Hitavadini" from Berhampur, "Ganjam Guna Darpan" from Digapahandi and 'Utkal Vasi' from Ichhapur (now in Andhra Pradesh) which were published to fight for the formation of Orissa province based on language, culture and literature and also to advance the cause of freedom movement.

In 1913 a new phase of journalism began in Orissa under the leadership of Mr. Sashibhusan Rath. On 13th April, 1913 he published the weekly 'Asha' which soon held the public opinion of the district under its influence. Though, Mr. Rath started his weekly without any capital money, he was able to attract the support of the stalwarts of that period like Pandit Gopabandhu Das, Pandit Nilakantha Das, Pandit Godavarish Mishra, the great freedom fighters and scholars, who later became editors of powerful newspapers. Pandit Gopabandhu, the founder of Orissa's influential Oriya newspaper, the Samaj published his first monthly magazine "Satyavadi" from Asha Press of Berhampur. During this period the publication of 'Asha' by Sashi Bhusan had kindled new hopes in the minds of the people of Orissa. 'Asha' soon attracted many leading writers and leaders of public opinion of that time and became the powerful vehicle of public opinion.

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