THE CITIZEN JOURNALIST
Why does conventional journalism leave outside its ambit some of the most repressed, unheard voices of the country, voices that have a more urgent need to be heard than most because they battle some of the most compelling issues of our time. Is there a way to engage the most remote into mainstream discourse?
Shubhranshu Choudhary has an answer to these tough questions, and he found it deep into the forests of Chhattisgarh.
A Knight International Journalism fellow, a BBC South Asia producer for ten years and a Guardian correspondent for two years, Choudhary had all the experience of high-end journalism he needed to point out the faults in its practice. At first, he served as a media trainer for the BBC World Service Trust, the United Nations, and Indian universities; he distilled to young journalists his advice to be a better journalist. What did that mean to him? It meant being democratic.
Although this adjective has as many meanings as the word “journalism”, Choudhary claims one should start from the people he is reporting on. In fact, he realized this when he returned to his native Chhattisgarh, where the populations stricken by the struggle between Maoists and the police were ranting against the imprecision and superficiality of the news reports on the conflict. “In the journalism field, very few of us decide what is news and what is not”, said Choudhary at a TEDx talk, “it is a very aristocratic production stream.”
To counter this, he set off to encourage and develop the practice of citizen journalism, whereby revolutionizing news reporting at the grassroots level. He indeed noticed that very few reporters knew the local language and that they were no news services in local vernaculars. Therefore, not only does he work on a project to train citizen journalists in rural areas, but he also created CGNet Swara, a service that tribals can call to listen to first-hand news on their region, and record their own news.
In an effort to go beyond conscious propagandas and unconscious shortcomings of media structures, Shubhranshu Choudhary is on a mission to revolutionize the production and consumption of information.