Not only have the national media felt the need to make their presence felt in the undivided Dakshina Kannada district, even enterprising locals have ventured into small time media houses, which have bagged acceptance and appreciation.
Tulunadu’s inclination towards media is justified, because it was about 168 years ago, in 1843 that the very foundation for Kannada journalism in the State was laid in Mangalore, through ‘Mangaluru Samachara,’ a Kannada weekly started by Hermann Moegling, a Christian Missionary.
Though the Western world had witnessed the power of press and had been influenced by the same centuries ago, it came to India only about one and half century ago. However, the credit of bringing printing technology to India goes to the West.
The Taulava districts, which were under the Madras province, had made remarkable progress in the field of education, industrialisation, business, art, agriculture etc, but there was no progress in the field of journalism.
It was ultimately in 1834, when the missionaries from Basel, Switzerland, gave a drastic boost to industries, education and printing. In 1841, they started the Basel Mission Press and got printed literatures in Kannada and Tamil. Taking, printing a step forward, in 1843, they started Mangalura Samachara,’ a Kannada weekly. The aim of starting this weekly was to instill reading habit among the local people. However, any further development in the field of journalism was not recorded for next 50 years mainly because of lack of willingness on the part of the British to give priority to local languages.
This was the main reason why vernacular press did not develop for long, post Mangalura Samachara. They promoted English language as the medium of communication. With English culture over-shadowing the love for mother tongue, in 1862, when the Basel Missionaries started a Tulu medium school, it was the local residents who said that they did not want Tulu language in schools at all. If the locals had not taken this drastic decision, the Tulu School would have been grand 150 years old. Not only this, there would have been a Tulu newspaper as well.
The rate of literacy in the region was also not very encouraging in the district. Further, there were not many writers contributing to the newspaper. All these led to the slow growth of newspapers in the district.
Coming to the first newspaper of the district, the first edition dated July 1, 1843 cost one ‘duddu’ (one paise). It had four pages of news on village news, government decisions; inter state news, distinct and surprising news, moral thoughts, stories and news contributed by people. It was printed using lithography and was never called a newspaper but was called ‘Kaagada’, which means a letter. Below the Masthead of the newsletter, was a line which read ‘This letter is sold at ‘Kothwal katte’ and the English medium school near Taluk Office.
On February 15, 1844, ‘Mangalura Samachara’ became ‘Kannada Samachara’ and was printed from Bellary Mission Press because Mangalore did not have letter printing technology available at that time.
One distinct feature of this letter was that, despite being started by Missionaries who came with the mission of propagating their religion, the letter was never used as a vehicle for propagation of the religion or to compare two religions or to condemn any religion.
However, the media in Mangalore and in the district has grown by leaps and bounds. There are over 100 media houses running the show here in Mangalore alone and if Hermann Moegling was to see how the seed sown by him has gone up to be numbers, he would only be more than happy.
Bhakti V Hegde, DHNS