Backed by mammoth experience in journalism, Debendra Prusty has created a niche for himself as a bold and fearless journalist. Currently, as the Editor of prominent Odia newspaper daily, Nitidin, the senior journalist is wonderfully leading a young and experienced team with his dynamic experience and leadership skills. Debendra is also credited to have infused life into the stories and features reported by the leading daily. Prusty feels the media houses should make an effort to highlight stories that matters the society at large and the current journalists should become the voice of the underprivileged and oppressed through their writings.
Born in a non-descript village of Bidyadharpur in Jajpur district, Debendra belonged to a poor family. Due to lack of proper road communication, he used to walk nearly 7kms on foot to school. “Our financial condition was not healthy. The earning was not enough to feed the family. So I took tutions to fund my school fees. Being a meritorious student, I got scholarship in Class 7 that helped to complete my studies,” he said.
At a very young age, Debendra started a library in his village on his own accord. “I used to regularly visit a magazine stall near my school and spent a lot of time reading books and magazines there. That was how I was drawn towards reading books. There was no library in our village where I could read books on a regular basis. Thus I took up the mantle to set up a library on a humble note,” he remembered.
Debendra’s tryst with journalism began while he was pursuing M.A. in Political Science at Utkal University. “I was unable to pay the college fees. So I started giving tutions in the evening hours. But after a few months, I found it tough to strike a balance between studies and tutions and I gave up. One of my friends insisted me to start a weekly magazine as I had a flair for writing. So I borrowed money from an acquaintance and started a magazine named Trutiya Nayana only to find out that a magazine by the same name was already getting published before. Disheartened, I approached the publishers of the magazine. I was asked to change the name to avoid any ambiguities in future. Thus, the magazine was rechristened as Samanya Kathan,” he recollects adding that the magazine was soon shut down due to lack of funds.
Debendra then joined the Sambad newspaper daily as sub-editor. Not withstanding the meagre salary, the senior journalist was happy to have finally got a break with a leading newspaper daily.
Within a year, he got transferred to Delhi and briefly worked both for The Congress Weekly and Sambad. Soon, he repatriated to Bhubaneswar and worked for the Odia vernacular daily till he joined a weekly magazine named The East Point as Chief Reporter in 1991. He then worked for another Odia magazine named Baate Ghaate. Besides, his articles also got regularly published in Pragativadi newspaper.
Debendra always believed in independent journalism. So he decided to revive Samanya Kathan again. One of his articles on alcohol deaths in Cuttack sent ripples across the state. It also caught the fancy of senior political leader Damodar Rout who was impressed by Debendra’s writing skills. Mr. Rout soon expressed desire to take the magazine under his fold.
But as destiny would have it, Mr. Rout was unable to spare time for the magazine and it too was discontinued after a few months. What followed, he says, was the worst phase of his life. He says, “After I learnt that the magazine was nearing its end, I went into a shock. I had no money to survive, no shelter to live and no food to eat. I was even contemplating to take the extreme step. But a friend came to my rescue and I stayed at his place for a few days.”
Subsequently, he joined Pragativadi newspaper as business correspondent. But his stint with the newspaper was short-lived. Once again, Debendra was left to fend for himself. He was desperately looking for ways to survive till he landed a contractual job in the Panchayati Raj department of the state government. But he wasn’t happy with the job and soon quit it. By then he had developed a good rapport with the senior officials of the Panchayati Raj Department. Upon their insistence and guidance, he did the documentation work of several non-governmental organizations for a while.
Further, he worked for different Odia newspapers namely Parjyabekhyaka, Manthan and Samaya. He also served as associate editor of Khabar, managing editor of Suryaprabha and editor of Anupam Bharat. “The major breakthrough for me came in 2001 when I served as the Editor of Sanchar newspaper. I had a long association with the newspaper daily till 2015,” says Debendra, who considers reading books and writing poems as his favorite recreational activities. At present, the 51-year old journalist is serving as the Editor of leading Odia newspaper, Nitidin and aspiring to take the vernacular daily to enviable heights. Most importantly, he has also come up with a news web-portal named samanyakathan.com where he posts articles on different important issues.
The senior journalist has no regrets in life. The ultimate wish, he says, is to bring some positive change in the society through his writing. “The society is increasingly drifting towards negativity. Today, there is a strong need to restore peace, unity and brotherhood among people. And I hope, through my articles, I can awaken the society for a better tomorrow,” he signs off.