The model

INDIA UNHEARD: 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 about their own communities; stories which have until now been 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.

The network

IndiaUnheard is comprised of a network of 206 Community Correspondents (CCs) spread across 24 Indian states. These Community Correspondents represent India’s most marginalized perspectives, including women, Dalits, tribals religious, linguistic and sexual minorities. The training enables them to tell compelling stories through 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 insight into these underreported perspectives, it does so on a national scale, making it the first program of its kind.

The Distribution

IndiaUnheard video reports are available online and via major media outlets. 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 and Twitter. In this way, viewers can connect with individual correspondents and receive updates posted by the correspondents (using their mobile phones) from their often distant and remote locations. This enables community voices to be heard on a new, wider scale which, in turn, leads to a greater impact. Video Volunteers continuously builds partnerships with nonprofits, social movements and international organisations to continue this process of leveraging content onto a global scale.

The Purpose

India is the world’s largest democracy. However, policies are often put in place without vital information flowing to a majority of its citizens. Most people don’t know their rights. One reason many policies and laws are not enforced is because the marginalised are excluded from the media. Simultaneously, the government and the mainstream media cannot easily access these perspectives which provide a window into what is actually happening in rural India. If information flowed upwards, we could better tackle issues like rural corruption or gender inequality.

Impact

IndiaUnheard has started having direct impact on the communities in which videos are made. Our videos inspire 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 a 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 CC – Daniel.  The viewer then introduced Daniel to a local NGO and together they organized the distribution of medicines in the local area. To watch more about this inspiring video, click here.

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