Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Orissa’s once most popular daily, the Samaja, founded by Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das is now in death bed and if its present condition continues, it may not survive for long. The crisis is so deep that editors are being hired and fired under whims and caprices of functionaries of Servants of the People Society (SoPS), which, I have reason to suspect, has taken away the paper by forging a Will of Pandit Das.
Orissa believes that Das had willed away the Satyavadi Press and The Samaj to the SoPS. But reality is different as prima-facie evidences suggest. I may come to this matter later.
But the present situation deserves immediate attention.
The paper is in problem as a self-appointed body of office bearers of the SoPS has appointed a team of 11 persons to intervene in the paper’s affairs, monitor its activities and take action and apprise the SoPS of their resolution, if any, for further action at the apex level. Journalism being the main activity of The Samaja, this poses a direct threat to its editorial and journalistic independence. The highhanded intervention of SoPS functionaries in editorial independence has forced editors quit their assignments and has made the post of editor farcical with forcing some to work in subordinate ranks of acting/executive editor: as for example, Ganeswar Mishra, Pramod Mohapatra and some to run away after a few months of joining, such as Chandrabhanu Patnaik. The incumbent editor – a highly professional Gopal Mohapatra, who in a short span of time has transformed the paper into people’s voice again, is now counting his days as buzzing in the grapevine transmits the name of a new man, Bimalendu Mohanty. This spells disaster for editorial dignity in a paper once considered as the best sentinel of the State. It is difficult to think of anything else when an editor is to be supervised and monitored and instructed by a gang of eleven non-journalists.
Its employees – both journalists and non-journalists – have since long been trying to save it from manipulators. But the killing viruses are so shrewdly active that instead of improving, it is taking a turn from bad to worse. (To be continued)