History of Journalism in Odisha
Dr Mrinal Chatterjee
Sanchar Marg, Dhenkanal 759 001, Odisha
Mohd. Safi Shamin
Journalists, as often stated, produce the first drafts of history. So when you have a journalist-cum-academician – exploring, questioning and visiting yesteryears of the profession he
practises and professes – you are assured an authentic and impeccable documentation. Dr Mrinal Chatterjee's book, "History of Journalism in Odisha", stands out as the exception in the subject he tackles. After years of sporadic
attempts, here's a book that delivers. But should you be reading it?
As I write, I understand that your mind is ready to question every point I am going to make here, especially, about the book. Well if it doesn't, then you
need not read this book, as journalism is all about asking questions and this book brings you a wonderful history of the profession of questioning everything. So let me give you a bookworm-review, slightly unorthodox in terms of
Twenty-one chapters, enriching appendices, bibliography and index sections, make this book a compendium. In "The Beginning", a 59-page exhaustive opening to the fascinating history of journalism, Dr
Chatterjee introduces us to human communication, Acta Diruna – handwritten news bulletin of the 1st century BC, Chinese printing on paper and Guttenberg's invention of press in Germany. But what's this to do with our own indigenous
history of journalism? Well, would it really be interesting to talk and know only about ourselves, not knowing what the rest of the world had been doing. Aren't Facebook timelines interesting and revealing when you want to know
about a new person? So here's an actual well-researched timeline of our own profession's history.
Interesting, indeed, is to read in this book, not only the national scenario, but also how individual linguistic press
discovered a mission and market for itself. While the book focuses on Odisha as a theme, I found it in no way neglecting regional facets of journalism through their evolutionary phases. For the sake of clarity, however, it's good
an idea to study Odisha as a case study, as its immense contribution to the national scene – in different fields – is often under-presented. The international, national contexts are cautiously kept in mind, while Odisha figures as
the case study through the book.
You can explore the book in different ways, not necessarily in the sequential order of chapters. For a comparative study of the social presence and role of the Indian media before and after
independence, chapters 3 and 4 present a good analysis. However, if you are looking specifically for radio, television, news agencies or newer forms of media, there are neatly packed chapters for these streams.
Chatterjee, being an academician, also understands the needs of the media students and researchers. So typical issues that are often a focus-area or form a favourite query – like "Women in Journalism", "Business Journalism",
"Entertainment Journalism", "Sports Journalism", "Photo Journalism", "Cartoons and Cartoonists", "Column" – have also been given a justified presence. The book concludes with "Present Trend" and "Future of Journalism in Odisha"
The book is a rich collection of visuals. This is one aspect that history books, especially attempting to deal with journalism, at times ignore. Front pages of "The Boston Newsletter", "Ghadar", "Kesri", "Sikh Review" and
"Utkal Deepika", to name a few, have been included. For researchers, designers and students learning layout of page, these visuals are of immense use.
Popular among his students and in national academic circles delving into
media studies and training, Dr Chatterjee maintains simplicity in terms of using language, sticking to one of the basic tenets of profession that discourages medium itself becoming a barrier when it comes to communication.
Dr Chatterjee took six years to complete this book. Despite himself being in a position to take a "stand", as media trainers often do, Dr Chatterjee has opted for a fairly unbiased, analytical positions on most issues he has taken
up. The book could reach more people, if a web-interaction is built between the author and the readers. Well, this limitation can be overcome in future editions.
On an end-note, frankly speaking, given our rapidly changing
media industry, it will be difficult for future generations to believe that press played a crucial role in the fight for freedom of our country from colonial regime. This aspect makes this book, an important one.
questioning everything is what associates people with this adventurous profession, we call journalism. So you may have been a practitioner for decades, or you got into the profession with "fire-in-the-belly" and "flair-for-writing"
or you are studying journalism "just-by-chance", or for reasons best known to you. The fact remains that ignorance of your past, even if you despise history, can never make you a serious journalist or media personnel in any other
capacity. So this is why, this book is a must-read stuff. Enjoy!