Written by : Tonay Borah
Assam, a prolific publishing place for newspapers, magazine and journals, has its own tradition in dissemination of news and information since the days of Ahom, Koch and other kings when the royal house assigned a person to move along streets and markets, beat a drum to draw people’s attention and then make the relevant announcements so that the king’s subjects become aware of the development.
In 1871, the satradhikar of Auniati Satra in Majuli, Duttadevo Goswami, decided to bring out a newspaper to counter the Baptist missionaries. Duttadevo Goswami purchased the printing machine from Calcutta and ferried it to the satra.
The second newspaper of Assam, Assam Bilasini, was launched that very year from Majuli. But the newspaper closed down for the first time in 1883, after which a government employee of Jorhat, Krishna Kanta Bhattacharyya, took over. He brought the printing machine to Jorhat and started publication of Assam Bilasini for its second stint in 1913.
After 11 years, the paper was closed down following tremendous pressure from the British rulers. Bhattacharyya lost his job for publishing acerbic editorials and news articles. In 2020, AB News Group launched an Assamese weekly Asom Barta.
The weekly Assamese infotainment broadsheet newspaper published from Majuli, focuses on Assam-specific issues, lifestyle, brands, new launches, entertainment etc.
It also covers national/international news and carries more analytical, investigative and rich data stories. The 8-page broadsheet has been launched with a print run of 10,000 copies.
The broadsheet primarily caters to readers above the age of 16, belonging to SEC B and above category. It mainly targets students, working professionals, entrepreneurs, and the youth.
Speaking about the idea, editors of Asom Barta said “Assam is an emerging market in the country. The audience’s taste is evolving much more than before and the current print medium options are largely classified into dailies that offer reports and hard news and magazines (mostly monthly) that are largely in the lifestyle genre. This gives space for an Assam-based Assamese weekly in the infotainment genre for a population.”
Asom Barta is also present on the digital platform through social media, website, and mobile app.
Speaking on the idea behind choosing the broadsheet format, he adds that broadsheet has always been a state favorite and provides the chance to tackle content that is different from dailies or magazines.
It is an exciting medium and since the new Indian is always on the move, something concise and at the same time informative would do well.
Also, he adds that the platform is secondary; it is the content that will make it click. The broadsheet format appeared most suitable for the content being provided by the publication.