“In these times, we fight for ideas and newspapers are our fortress”- Heinrich Helene
As the literacy rate in the seven sister states in India kept on spiraling after independence, freedom of expression found its voice in the births of newspapers in English as well as local languages. Although north-east stayed in the throes of cataclysmic changes, the newspapers played a crucial role in expressing feelings and opinions of people. Bearing the brunt of divisive forces for donning the mantle of truth, the newspapers also came under scathing attacks from separatists and anti-social elements. Journalism in the seven sister states faced the challenges arising out of the ongoing conflicts in the societies of north-east. Following the rape and killing incident of a woman-Monorama Devi- by the security forces in Manipur as she was suspected to be an informer of the militants, the women decided to stage a novel protest by posing nude before the public. Press played the most proactive role by offering complete coverage of the protest by the middle-aged women that created furor world-wide. As a state, Assam suffered from various internal crises, such as militancy and clashes between the ethnic groups. The local newspapers always kept their sharp focus on these incidents reporting minutely on every side of the crisis.
Let’s know about top five local newspapers of North-east;
“The Sentinel” & “AJir Asom”
The English daily, The Sentinel, has the top rank in Assam among all the local newspapers. The newspaper has recognition for its high caliber language and intellectual ideas. With its five editions published from Silchar, Itanagar, Dibrugarh, Shillong, and Itanagar, it has very high circulation in the seven sister states. As the newspaper was edited for a long time by eminent scribe, Dhirendra Nath Bezbaruah, it saw the peak of success during his time. With its sister publication, Ajir Asom, its other publication in Assmese language, it also enjoys high reputation as well as circulation in Assam and other states of north-east. With combined circulation of more than 1, 20,000 number of newspapers, it is the largest group in north-east of India.
i.Terrorism- Entire north-east has stayed a beehive of terrorism. “The sentinel” and its sister newspaper, Ajir Asom, has remaineded at the front of reporting about terrorism. Particularly, the sensational reporting about recruitment of youth from north-east in ISIS has earned the appreciation of one and all.
ii.Political issues- The sensitive political issues like Bodo movement for a separate statehood and abnormal price rise have always found place in its analysis and in-depth reporting.
iii.Health, entertainment, and social events- As Assam has the richest cultural heritage in the entire north-east, “The sentinel” has forever stated at the front in giving coverage to all these facades of cultural milieu.
The Sangai Express of Manipur
Being the most popular news agency in Manipur, “Sangai Express” is the newspaper in Manipur with highest circulation. Available in English and Manipur languages, the newspaper in Manipuri language gets published in Bengali script. The people of Manipur are really fond of the popular comic in the newspaper- “Kandrang gi Mang”.
Let’s cast a glance at the remarkable features of this newspaper;
Features of its publication
i.Coverage of sensitive social issues- Be it the chaos in the traffic or education for the children of backward classes in the society, the newspaper covers those minutely from all the angles.
ii.Exclusive general articles- The general articles published in its section include a wide variety of topics, such as research articles on religious topics, fervor of religious ceremonies, news about events in the ethnic communities, and international issues.
iii.Special coverage of Sports- As Manipur has always stayed ahead in the entire nation in its excellence in performance in different games,” The Sangai Express” has a separate and dedicated section for covering all the events in sports taking place around the world.
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Dainik Sambad in Trpura
Among a few newspapers in Tripura, “Dainik Sambad” published in Bengali has the highest circulation in the state. Literally, no other newspaper offers any competition to this daily as it has remained the number one choice of masses in the state.
Let’s know about its exclusive coverage in its different pages;
i.Exclusive coverage of culture- As the culture of Tripura has its unique values, the paper sums up the cultural ethos in excellent ways that attracts worldwide attention.
ii.Adding substance to the heritage of the state- As a tribal state, Tripura has unique heritage that gets wonderfully showcased in its different pages.
iii.Coverage of exquisites from Tripura- As a state, Tripura has its distinct cuisine, handicrafts, and other exquisites, the newspaper has always carried exclusive editions about them.
The Shillong Times
As a newspaper, Shillong Times, first appeared as a weekly tabloid on 10th August 1945 and until the year 1987, it struggled to become a full-fledged daily newspaper. As it shifted to offset web printing system in the year 1991, literally it heralded a new era in its publication. The year 1992 signaled a change with the launching of its Garo Hills edition- “Tura”. Repeating its success story, it started another weekly for Garo hills in the year 1993 – “Janera”. This popular weekly became a daily newspaper in the year 2000 and it was renamed as “Salantini Janera”. The year 2009 was a turning point as it added the Bengali daily to its publication- “Sangbad Lahari”.
Highlights of its coverage
i.Focus on Garo Hills- As the community living in Garo Hills is part and parcel of culture of the state, the newspaper has done its best to preserve the ethnicity of the people living there.
ii.Coverage about North-east- Being a member of seven sister states, Meghalaya has always remained an important part of north-east’s culture. The newspaper has showcased the important events taking place in north-east.
iii.Complete coverage of sensitive news- Be it political or communal conflicts, the newspaper serves like a mirror, carrying the true reflections of the things taking place in the north-east.
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The Mizoram Post
In its statehood, Mizoram has a number of newspapers. “The Mizoram post” is most popular among them with highest circulation in the state. As of now, the circulation has gone to almost 58,156 copies as the state has the large readership of English language.
i.Politics and social issues- As north-east has remained a hot-bed of politics with several social issues, “the Mizoram Post” publishes all such contents with in-depth analysis.
ii.Focus on culture and sports- North-east has an interesting cultural milieu, where sports form part and parcel in the heritage of the societies. The Mizoram post presents all the cultural and social events in its exclusive editions.
iii.Promoting amity in tribal communities- As Mizoram is a tribal state, the newspaper gives its best coverage to ethnicity