Media boom in Orissa, at election time

BY patnaik| IN Regional Media | 28/04/2004
Elections for the Parliament and Assembly seats are being held simultaneously in Orissa after 33 years, making it the perfect launching pad for at least ten new newspapers.


Elisa Patnaik

What better time to launch another newspaper than during the elections? When the time is just ripe to attract the attention of readers, intellectuals and pliticians alike, what with simultaneous elections being held in three states.  

After a gap of 33 years, elections for the Parliament and Assembly seats are being held simultaneously in Orissa, making it the perfect launching pad for at least ten new newspapers. These have been launched in the last two months, and interestingly more are in the pipeline post-elections. Among the newspapers to have recently hit the stands are Spandan, Odisha Bhaskar, Darshan, India First, Pratidin, Aji, and Life Line. 

Never before has so many dailies and weeklies been launched in the State at the same time, this  boom is being seen as a major development. There is certainlyno dearth of news, with politicians ever willing to give the much-needed interview and opinion.  

A majority of such newspapers launched are in Oriya, with at least two in the English language. However, at least two newspapers have veered away from politics and current news to provide readers with information on physical and mental health. A weekly tabloid in English has also taken off in the State, the first of its kind in Orissa, replete with eye-catching photographs and off-beat stories. The new launches include a Sanskrit newspaper from the state capital Bhubaneswar with the former chief minister and present Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Chief J. B. Patnaik, inaugurating it.  

With editors of four out of the five leading Oriya dailies and seven other journalists and small time editors in the election fray this time as candidates, many see this move on the part of editors, publishers and proprietors of the latest newspapers as passports to their political ambitions. However for the time being, the editors disagree with such an opinion and say that the lack of a politically neutral newspaper in Orissa in fact, has egged them to initiate such a move. The editor of the newly launched Odisha Bhaskar, Bhaskar Parichha, was recently quoted as saying that politics and journalism should not be mixed and since a majority of the editors and owners of Oriya dailies have been politicians themselves, the editorial content and policies have been biased.  

On the other hand, the Executive Editor of the English tabloid ‘India First,’ Satya Prakash Nayak avers that it’s difficult to separate media and politics. "Perhaps, the main reason why we chose to launch the paper during elections is that we would be better noticed during this time," he says. "But our focus is certainly not just politics alone. It is also issues like health, education, development, culture etc." 

Interestingly, this time round, the editor-owners of the latest newspapers are from a varied background, ranging from retired government servants, former-professionals, contractors, hoteliers and jewellers. Since a sizeable number of vernacular dailies and a modest number of English newspapers already exist in Orissa, it remains to be seen what percentage of readers the new breed of newspapers will be able to capture in the State. Moreover, elections or no elections, with many newspapers, dailies and weeklies already biting the dust in the past, only time will tell for how long the latest newspapers are going to survive.


Elisa Patnaik is a free-lance journalist based in Bhubaneshwar. Contact:  




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