Khabar Lahariya: Women run, local language newspaper creates
Suneeta is a 27-year-old from Banda district in India’s
northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Born a Dalit (untouchable), she left school at
the age of 9 and was married at 12. She goes often to Bhagolan, a village that
has no water, electricity or roads.
In March 2012, Suneeta wrote about the long delay in highway
construction in an article for Khabar Lahariya, a weekly newspaper published in
the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The highway was constructed a
few months later, reducing travel time to this drought-prone area.
is one of 40 rural women who function as editors, reporters, photographers and
designers for Khabar Lahariya that literally means ‘news waves’ in Hindi, the
language spoken in these two states.
There are many reasons Khabar Lahariya stands out in India’s
rich media landscape of almost 70,000 newspapers. To start with, it is the first
multi-edition local language rural newspaper run entirely by women, many of whom
have had little access to formal education.
“Khabar Lahariya is composed of a collective of rural women
journalists, most of them from marginalized communities - in terms of their
caste, religion and ethnicity. This collective reports, writes, edits, designs,
takes photographs and illustrates for the newspaper and then distributes it far
and wide at the end of the week,” says Shalini Joshi, the co-founder of Khabar
Lahariya. Shalini is part of the Non-Governmental Organization, Nirantar, and
The Women, Media and News Trust (WoMeN Trust), which trains and mentors Khabar
11 years of distribution in media dark areas
The newspaper is distributed to 600 villages in media dark
areas of northern India. It is often the only source of information for its
80,000 readers. “Like its reporters, the readers are also those in media dark
areas. We distribute the newspaper to daily wage earners, farmers, teachers,
activists, members of the panchayat (village council), village administration,
politicians and students in remote rural areas,” adds Shalini.
Over 11 years, the newspaper has grown immensely and is now
published in 7 local languages. Khabar Lahariya currently has editions in
Chitrakoot, Banda, Mahoba, Varanasi, Lucknow and Sitamarhi. New editions will be
launched in Pratapgarh, Lalitpur, Azamgarh and other districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Covering local issues in local languages
Khabar Lahariya covers issues from governance to development,
gender, politics, entertainment and sports.
One of the latest stories in the newspaper is about the
challenges faced by villagers who have to cross five rivers to reach the nearest
town. In the story, Aniriya Devi, Suneel, Ram and Seeta Devi from Indarva
village stress the need for a bridge. Another story from Chitrakoot district
discusses the negative effects of building a local dam.
“Through the newspaper, we are able to give women access to
information they didn’t have earlier. The reporters travel to isolated areas to
report on everything from rural infrastructure, water to sanitation,” says
Courtesy : The Washington Times