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The Advent of Mangaluru Samachara

Even though many advancements in technology have made its way into national and regional arenas, the spread of print media has been one that has been rather prominent. From waiting for the morning newspaper to news being accessed with a click of a finger, print media has evolved in many ways. This article is a step back into history to learn how Mangalore’s first newspaper Mangaluru Samachara.

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The man who needs to be mentioned is Rev. Hermann Frederick Moegling and the enterprise is Basel mission. In 1843, a time and place when establishing something as new as a newspaper was difficult to propound, under the leadership of this German man, the Christian Missionary from Germany learned Kannada to establish a vernacular newspaper for the populace in Mangalore. It is said that this four page weekly became a window for updates about their own region called voora varthamana, news about the state called sarva rajya varthamanagalu, rules and regulations established by the East India Company known as sarakarada niroopagalu and establishing world views among many other categories. 

 

It had come into Moegling’s attention that spread of rumours are far more prominent in the region over reliable news, thus being a person interested in Kannada literature and education realised that it was a necessity that an authentic newspaper was established. Thus a fortnightly made its debut publication in Mangalore on July 1, 1843 using litho printing technology. Being fluent in the local languages of Tulu, Kannada and Kannada, reaching the local populace was easier. 

 

‘Authentic information’ was the key word for this weekly. Being a person of foreign origin namely Germany starting an enterprise in British India, he made sure that he did not overlap European ideals in the articles. Subscribers increased and so did the spread of the weekly. Readers were clearly happy that a newspaper that they can read and understand in their own mother tongue was published. It was reported that over 7000 copies were printed using the litho technology in the following year. The Mangaluru Samachara was taken over by the London Mission Society at Bellary who had better printing technology. 

 

The Kannadigas were overjoyed when Moegling decided to introduce another newspaper called Kannada Samachara which penned down their culture in its true sense. The newspaper shifted its headquarters to Bellary from May in the following year under William Reeves while Moegling coordinated his editing skills from Mangalore. Readers were clearly happy that a newspaper that they can read and understand in their own mother tongue was published. Owing to the unfortunate death of Reeves, Kannada Samachara’s flight was short lived.

Yet, one may not seize to appreciate the impact of Basel Mission, Moegling and Mangaluru Samachara as far as Kannada Journalism is considered. It paved the way for many other newspapers in vernaculars and its establishers. This endeavor will always be remembered and is commemorated by celebrating Press Day on July 1 each year. 

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