Odisha.com: Vernacular journalism & Beyond
In today’s time when journalism is almost synonymous to English news coverage, here is this one portal which has dedicated itself towards the promotion of vernacular journalism since 2004.
Yes, we are talking about odisha.com.
It was on November 10, 2004, that Odisha got its first vernacular web portal – www.odisha.com – that went on to break several stories in Odisha and on Odias living abroad, be it corporate news related to industry majors like POSCO and TATA, or political news.
It was the first web portal in the state to carry interviews of toppers of different examinations.
How it all started:
With an initial investment of Rs. 25000 in 2004 towards the domain registration, web hosting charges and others, the journey of odisha.com started with four assembled outdated Intel Pentium PCs (which were on a monthly rent of Rs. 1200 per PC), a Made in China LAN Hub, a flatbed scanner and a contemporary digital camera, a Rs. 1500 worth computer table for the PCs and a shared space in the living room of the founder’s residence.
The absence of adequately trained developers to integrate non-volatile fonts with the then available Content Management Systems (CMSs), ignited odisha.com to develop an alternate complex time-consuming method by presenting the content in Odia font by simply using Microsoft Frontpage.
But, the aim was to overcome the hurdle and march ahead to attain the goal.
Pertinently, the domain name odisha.com came into existence six years before the Lok Sabha passed the bill for the much-needed change of the name of the state from, Orissa to Odisha.
Created by an Odia visionary, the aim behind creating a portal of the self-explanatory name was to make Odisha’s presence felt in the global internet highway and connect Odias worldwide.
The domain www.odisha.com was registered in the year 2004, at a time when there was not a single website that used vernacular Odia font.
Those were the times when the internet was available through dial-up or DSL model. BSNL, Ornet Internet, and Sify were the available ISPs (Internet Service Providers) for common users.
The ISPs were propagating their product speed as 128 Kbps and the actual connection speed used to be 10 to 15 kbps, that also if you were fortunate enough.
During those days, people mostly used the internet to check e-mails and for browsing through Yahoo, Google, and/or Orkut.
Thinking of a standalone website, that too on a vernacular font platform, was nothing but a day-dream without the availability of any internet-friendly, cross-platform ready dynamic fonts.
No web portal was presenting Odia content using Odia font in the e-sphere, not even the state government or related institutions.
1. To encourage free and fair journalism, odisha.com became the first to award fellowships to journalists (http://www.odisha.com/category/fellowship/ )
2. odisha.com was one of the few websites in India to launch an app for the mobile way back in 2010 (https://www.slideshare.net/MobileWish/odisha-khabar-userguide).
3. The web portal odisha.com has been cited internationally in various books as well; links for which are provided below:
4. odisha.com also got its share of media coverage for its outstanding work in the field of vernacular journalism –
News, via SMS, claimed to reach 60,000 subscribers in eastern India
5. What is journalism without social welfare? odisha.com does its share too. It connects non-resident Odias to their homeland, who thus get to know about needy fellow Odias via the portal. Several non-resident Odias have thus financially assisted needy people in Odisha through odisha.com .
6. In November 2007, odisha.com became one of the first news web portals to start SMS news alert service in the country, that too free of cost. It used to send 4 SMS alerts a day to more than two lakh users continuously for 3 years.
7. Odisha.com also launched an English version www.odisha.in in 2005. Expanding its geographical territory, odisha.com entered Chattishgarh by launching www.36garh.in in the year 2007.
8. The portal was awarded with the prestigious Manthan Award – 2007 by Digital Empowerment Foundation, New Delhi for being India’s Best E-content Developer.
9. Odisha.com even took the initiative to introduce citizen journalists where its readers could contribute news or event alerts for the portal.
Odisha.com wants to do more to improve local language computing and vernacular journalism.
10. All these have been possible only due to the help and cooperation extended by a countless number of well-wishers be it some bureaucrats, businessmen, politicians, journalists, academicians or some non-resident odias.
All of them have helped us generously and silently without expecting any thing in return. However we are still not done.
Anyone who wants to help us/partner with us in this noble mission financially or technologically may contact email@example.com or call 9437021174.