Monday, August 26, 2013
APPAN SAMACHAR – A NEW WAY OF COMMUNITY JOURNALISM
- A Paper by VIDYUT PRAKASH MAURYA
journalist can play big role in social change. It is not necessary to start your work in a big canvas; you may start with some of small efforts. We can set an example of community journalism. What is community journalism? Community journalism is locally oriented, professional news coverage that typically focuses on city neighborhoods, individual suburbs or small towns, rather than metropolitan, state, national or world news.
Community journalism concentrates on the effect they have on local readers. Community newspapers, often but not always publish weekly, and also tend to cover subjects larger news media do not. Some examples of topics are students on the honor roll at the local high school, school sports, crimes such as vandalism, zoning issues and other details of community life. Sometimes dismissed as "chicken dinner" stories, such "hyper local" coverage often plays a vital role in building and maintaining neighborhoods.
A NEW APPROACH
But here we are going to talk about community journalism work going well from last six years in a small village of Bihar. APPAN SMCHAR means my own news. Leo Lerner, founder of Chicago's erstwhile Lerner Newspapers, used to say, "A fistfight on Clark Street is more important to our readers than a war in Europe." This idea clicked to a young journalist of Bihar Mr. Santosh Sarang. Now days Bihar is showing a picture of synonym for development. The proof of the pudding is an all-women news channel which has become favorites in rural areas of the state.
WHY APPAN SAMACHAR
Founder of Appan Samachar Santosh says, Their primary objective was to create study circles to dispel information to the public on the different perspectives on education in rural area of developing state Bihar.
OBJECTIVE : To prepare one for a job, To teach lifelong learning, To develop good citizens. To teach the basics.
Santosh says, Our News, offers a unique media platform for raising awareness over the issues affecting these women and society more broadly. A team of two dozen girls is currently involved in running this venture, for which they’ve had some training in handling small digital cameras, writing scripts and reporting. They edit their stories in a nearby town with the help of some keen volunteers, who have been involved with the project since its inception in 2007.
Women from other backward communities and marginalised in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. The unique initiative took shape in December 2007 at Ramleela Gachhi near Deoria police station in Muzaffarpur. As the Arab world is witnessing some long overdue political change, a tiny village in the eastern Indian state of Bihar is experiencing a smaller, much quieter revolution. This uprising isn’t destroying a regime, but is still tearing apart an archaic system.
Presently, it has expanded its reach to about hundred villages of six blocks; namely, Paroo, Sahebganj, Saraiya, Marwan, Kanti and Mushahari. The credit of this unique concept goes to social activist and journalist Santosh Kumar Sarang.
TALE OF FOUR GIRLS
Chandkewari a small village in district Muzaffarpur, The media all around the world is going gaga over these girls; everyone wants to know a little bit more about them. This is a tale of four girls who wanted to unmask the corrupt and malicious faces of the society. The best way of doing it turned out to be coming up with their very own news channel. Hence was born of Appan Samachar, a rural news channel run by all women.
It was started by four girls but later inspired many to hop on and help bring change in the nearby villages. Young camera woman Ruby Kumari and script-writer Ruma Devi says, We sit down daily to look around for issues that affect directly the villagers. Then we work on them from every angle and then put them on air.
In this world of commercialized media which has forgotten the rural background of the country and their problems, Appan Samachar focuses on issues concerning development, farmers, environment, social evils, women empowerment, public health and hygiene and many such welfare related matters.
People of Chandkebari says, Doordarshan never shows any news of our village. Where we can see our own news? Here appan samachar giving us a opportunity to see our very own news, our voice, our problems. It is a nice approach of news.
HOW IT WORKS
This news network runs on minimum resources. Leading this movement are young women, most aged between 14 and 21, who have taken it upon themselves to challenge existing social norms that restrict them from moving freely and making their own choices in lives. The weapons of this revolution are cameras and microphones.
The news bulletins are screened for free in the villages where there is no electricity or cable through a projector in markets or places where maximum crowd can gather for maximum impact. They use to sow their bulletin in weekly markets called Pethia or Hat. Without any formal training, the team gets village media workshops which are conducted by Mission Eye International Service in order to enhance their skills.
SELF BRAND JOURNALIST
The girls typically head off on bikes with cameras and microphones in their front baskets to start reporting for the day. A small office is located in the centre of the village where weekly bazaars take place. After the stories are edited, the programme is shown during the weekly bazaar or market on a projector. The villagers seem to immediately connect with the stories, which have frequently prompted pressure on the local administration to make changes.
OPPORTUNITY OF CHANGE
These small successes have given the girls a real confidence boost and galvanized the village. The girls aren’t paid, but they seem to see the freedom and opportunity of change as reward enough.
Young girls Carrying a low range Sony handycam, a tripod and two microphones with the channel logo, they bump along on the dusty narrow village tracks to talk to people and shoot their stories on their cycles.
“We look around for issues that affect the villagers, shoot them and then put them on air,” says the channel’s news anchor Khushboo.
“It’s a great move in the direction of women empowerment. The parents of these girls want their daughters to move ahead in life and venture into such initiatives,” Santosh Sarang says.
Managing with bare minimum resources, the channel Appan Smachar has far-reaching impact in rural area of Bihar. The issues raised by these firebrand reporters concern everyone, making this news channel No. 1 in the race for eyeballs.
A Dalit girl of village (the lowest caste in India), has resumed her studies and is now a full-time worker with the news organization. Appan Samachar was launched in 2007 as an experiment for bringing up village issues, but many parents were initially reluctant to allow their daughters to get involved. Over time, though, attitudes have shifted, and joining the Appan Samachar team is now seen as a prestigious move.
Still, running such a venture in a village without electricity isn’t easy. A lack of financial resources complicates their work, and screenings have sometimes had to be postponed when the group hasn’t had enough money to pay for local power generators. Usually, though, villagers manage to scrape together the funds necessary to get things back on track.
Whatever the reason behind the success of Appan Samachar, there’s no doubt it has become to the citizens of Chandkebari a medium of change through alternative journalism. The project demonstrates the power of the media to intervene effectively in bringing about far-reaching changes in societies across the world.
INSPIRATION FOR OTHERS
The group of these girls of Appan Samachar team prove to be an inspiration for many around the country. For not just for the rural classes but the urban world is puzzled with the strength and courage they possess. The self-brand journalist team belongs to various Scheduled Caste and Tribes, and communities including the Mushahar community ( The Mushahars are people who live by trapping and consuming rats).
The popularity of this unique assemble has prompted many to be part of it including Dr. Carolyn Heising who is the patron and advisor of Appan Samachar. Heising is a Professor at Iowa State University in United States and she was also appointed at the Chair of the national Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Women in Academia (WIA) committee in 2006. Dr. Heising, who takes special interest in gender related studies. He says, initiative taken by Mr. Sarang is applaudable and determination to carve the lives of these girls on camera would hopefully wake many more to do the same and be the change they want to see.
For this innovative effort, Appan Samachar received the prestigious “Citizen Journalist Award a national award from CNN-IBN (Network-18 Group). This award was presented by the Chief Minister of Delhi Smt. Sheila Dixit. Some of national media and global media also praised works of Appan Smachar team. German radio aired a half an hour special programme on Appan Smachar. BBC also acclaimed the work going on rural Bihar. So many activists from other side of India came to see how news bulletin is going on air every week.
Due to the ripples created by this effort, many people and organisations are coming forward in an attempt to help these women learn more and realise their potential.
DOCUMENTRY ON APPAN SAMACHAR
One such effort is by a youth activist and director Dipesh Chandra who is making a character-driven documentary on the lives of these girls. Chandra in the past has worked on various documentary projects including Prisms of Light and many others. On being asked about this project, he said: After meeting these girls I realised their potential and now it is on us how we help them realise the same. It will also project the lives these girls have been living. Hopefully this will be helpful to raise awareness among people.
The courage and conviction of a few people takes the whole world forward. In this case, the girls have taken a giant step of letting the world know how just the union and power of a few adjoined forces can put the whole world bewildered and amused but at the same time inspired. Hopefully this will provoke many more people about raising one own hand in the crowd and lead towards self empowerment.
SIX YEAR OF SUCSESS
Appan Smachar celebrated it’s 6th aniversery of successful run of news bulletin in 2012. Santosh remembers the journey, Now we are getting recognition of our works but It was not so easy to start. We felt so many hurdles, problems, even got threats form a part of society, but our work is going on. But it is still a start. We have to go on a long journey.
And last I want to conclude with lines of poet Merle Shain-
It is better to light candles
than to curse the darkness.
It is better to plant seeds
than to accuse the earth.
The world needs all of our power
and love and energy,
and each of us has something that we can give.
The trick is to find it and use it,
to find it and give it away.
We can be lights for each other,
and through each other's illumination
we will see the way.
Each of us is a seed,
a silent promise,
and it is always spring.
Contact – Flat UG 4 Plot B 69 DLF DILSHAD EX. GAZIABAD- 201005 (UP)
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Vidyut Prakash Maurya, A journalist and Media teacher.
DOB – 17 Dec 1973
BA (hons) BHU, MA (Hist) BHU, PG DIPLOMA in Journalism from IIMC, Delhi, Master in Mass communication from GJU, Hisar, UGC NET in Mass communication.
16 years in Print , TV Media, Teaching and Research. Presently working as Chief Sub Editor in HT Media Group, New Delhi.