REPORT

gurmanbhatia

1TYbsVD

week in a range of dialects and editions across Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and

says it reaches an estimated 100,000 print readers on a regular basis. 50

Its digital development has been a rapid one – less than a year after it

launched its website and Facebook page in 2013, the newspaper won a ‘Best

of Online Activism’ special award at Deutsche Welle’s Global Media Forum.

It has won a slew of other prizes and has been held up as ‘an exemplary

model for transformative rural media’ by the Wharton Business School and

the CII/KPMG report on ICT in India. 51 The focus on poor, rural readers and

its legacy as a print product does not detract from the importance of digital

for Khabar Lahariya. Kavita says: ‘The young generation carries a smartphone

and a lot of people use it. So we thought that we could also be a part of this,

that people can watch small video clips, see it for real, hear us and see the

reports.’ Disha, another co-­‐‐founder notes:

The website was launched in 2013 and I think in the last one and half years,

on social media platforms, our presence has increased. This includes Facebook,

Twitter and even WhatsApp for the last six–seven months has seen active use.

The collaboration between the network of our reporters and also the network of

local news journalists has also seen active use of these platforms in the last six

to eight months. 52

Digital for Khabar Lahariya is a supplement to, not a substitute for, print. In

far-­‐‐flung villages where electricity and technology are almost absent, a print

product can reach people who remain offline. Disha adds:

Khabar Lahariya’s roots and history is closely associated with literacy

movement. And when Khabar Lahariya started the idea was in areas where the

literacy level is really low, particularly female literacy, if there is a medium of

local language in those areas it could help women and non-­‐‐school goers to

attain and sustain their literacy level in those areas. So local media is

important.

But digital channels can supplement the print product and make local news

available to people who may not pick up the newspaper. The context Khabar

Lahariya operates in has changed in the last years, as mobile penetration has

also increased in poor rural areas. When the website was launched initially it

was just like an archiving system, where some of the stories would be

uploaded on the website, only some would be translated, and it wasn’t so

extensively promoted or circulated. ‘Now we do it actively through social

50

http://sarai.net/khabar-­‐‐lahariya-­‐‐rural-­‐‐empowerment-­‐‐goes-­‐‐digital

51

Awards: http://www.khabarlahariya.in/page.php?pid=12&cid=7#.VpavyJN96t9 (accessed Jan. 2016).

52 Disha, co-­‐‐founder, Khabar Lahariya, interviewed by Arijit Sen.

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