IndiaUnheard: Video Volunteers’ Community News Service
IndiaUnheard is the first ever community news service launched by Video Volunteers. This new initiative is constituted of a network of community correspondents who are trained to tell unique stories; stories about their own communities; stories which are otherwise left untold. By feeding this community-produced content to national and international outlets, such as mainstream television channels and social networking sites, IndiaUnheard links rural communities with a truly global audience. Through bridging these worlds, IndiaUnheard empowers communities to create real change on real issues affecting their lives.
IndiaUnheard is comprised of a network of 45 Community Correspondents (CCs) spread across 27 Indian states. These Community Correspondents represent India’s most marginalized perspectives, including Dalits and tribal people, as well as religious, lingual and sexual minorities. They are trained in all manner of documentation, compelling storytelling and video journalism. They are also well versed in using social media as a reporting tool. The powerful combination of these new media approaches—video journalism, SMS reporting and social media networking— allows them to engage with both the national and international audience in a truly innovative way.
Through IndiaUnheard, Video Volunteers offers the global audience a clear window into the real India. Every day, video reports on key issues such as caste, conflict, identity and education are gathered from across the country. Imagine a situation where a tribal woman reports on how displacement is affecting children’s right to education in the Northeast, or a Dalit man discusses Dalit political representation in local elections and government. Not only does IndiaUnheard provide critical insights into these underreported perspectives, it does so on a national scale, making it the first program of its kind.
IndiaUnheard video reports are available online and in January 2011 VV launched a 30-minute, weekly news program with News X, an English-language television channel in India. There are many ‘firsts’ to celebrate here — the first time a news station is recognizing the poor as legitimate news producers; the first time the poor are being paid for their news reports by a TV station; and, most importantly, the first time these communities will voice their issues directly to a national audience.
The reports are featured on the IndiaUnheard web-series, where viewers watch videos by issue and learn how to take action. Viewers are also able to share their thoughts on the videos produced and even submit ideas for future stories. The videos are also distributed through social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Blip TV. This enables community voices to be heard on a new, wider scale which, in turn, leads to a greater impact. Video Volunteers is currently building partnerships with nonprofits, social movements and international organizations to continue this process of leveraging content onto a global scale. We are also utilizing our pan-India network of Community Correspondents to partner with NGOs to build innovative and dynamic campaigns on issues ranging from climate change to gender equality. Read more here.
India is the world’s largest democracy; however, policies are often put in place without this information flowing to the poor majority. Most people don’t know their rights; one reason many laws are not enforced is because the poor are excluded from the media. Simultaneously, the government and the mainstream media cannot easily access the knowledge and perspectives of the poor; perspectives which provide a window into what is actually happening in marginalized communities in India. If information flowed upwards, we could better tackle issues like rural corruption or gender inequality.
IndiaUnheard has started having direct impact on the communities in which it is made. Our videos are inspiring viewers to take action and reach out to communities to address specific problems such as lack of healthcare, livelihood opportunities and corruption in local governance.
For example, one of our Community Correspondents from Manipur made video about lack of medical facilities in a local village. A Manipuri India Unheard viewer living in Bangalore saw the film and wanted to help. Video Volunteers connected him with our Manipuri Community Correspondent – Daniel. The viewer then introduced Daniel to a local NGO and together they organized the distribution of medicines in the local area. You can watch a film about this impact story here.
To watch the IndiaUnheard video reports, click here.
To volunteer with one of the Community Correspondents, click here to find details.