Video Volunteers is India’s only reporting network that is focused exclusively on providing broad coverage for the poorest, most media-dark districts in India, filling the media’s need for new ways to produce low-cost, high-quality original content from remote areas.
Video Volunteers empowers marginalised people in India to tell their stories and create local change campaigns so that their issues don’t get swept under the rug and instead become an important feature of India’s development narrative.
We run India’s only reporting network that is focused exclusively on providing broad coverage for the poorest, most media-dark districts in India, filling the media’s need for new ways to produce low-cost, high-quality original content from remote areas. 200 individuals trained in video reporting and data gathering and representing the most diverse communities in India – Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, all living below the poverty and 50% of them female – earn a livelihood as Community Correspondents. They uncover local stories, create local impact campaigns, build a bridge between citizens and local government, and represent their communities in the national media.
The problem VV is addressing is that only 2% of content in the mainstream addresses the issues of the rural poor. A plurality of voices in the media – representing a diversity of genders, cultures, castes, religions, geographies and socio-economic groups – is crucial to a vibrant democracy.
Since 2010, more than 4000 videos have been produced by marginalised communities, that document how India is changing and why some problems remain so intractable. From a governance and accountability point of view, the impact has been a significant increase in communities’ abilities to solve problems on their own: one out of five videos produced has managed to solve the problem the video addressed, resolving 800 local corruption or poor governance issues, and bringing concrete benefit to more than 1 million people. This is also improving the government’s responsiveness, with more than 200 government officials taking action after watching a VV video. At a more macro level, VV’s work has been elevating community voices into policy debates and national decision-making, with our reports forming the basis of a PIL to the supreme court on the issue of untouchability, being used as part of the efforts to improve compensation for acid attack victims, and to add much-needed ground realities, data and community perspectives on many issues including maternal deaths and the implementation of the government’s groundbreaking RTE Act.
The work has won awards from Ashoka, The Knight News Challenge, Echoing Green, TED, Women’s E-News, The World Summit on the Information Society, NYU Stern Business School, The Global Social Business Incubator, Edelgive Social Innovations, and many others. We have partnered with or received funding from several international organisations including UNDP, DFID and UNESCO and are active participants in several networks including the V4C network, ESCR-Net, Girls Count, the Community Radio Forum, as well as several hundred social movements and NGOs whose stories we tell.
Our work has been featured in the Economist’s Intelligent Life Magazine, BBC, CNBNC, National Public Radio, Fast Company Magazine, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Al Jazeera, Nickelodeon, Times of India, Hindustan Times, among many others. We have provided content to numerous media companies including CNN-IBN, Scroll, News Laundry, News X, Headlines Today, Bloomberg, Oximity and Youth ki Awaaz.