The Vidarbha Gazette: An Introduction
Digital media has democratized the production and consumption of media to an extent that would have been unimaginable in the past. Media production is no longer at the mercy of a few family-owned businesses and corporate houses. Roughly speaking, every person who has an android phone in hand and a few bucks to recharge their data pack have the potential to produce news and not just consume it.
There was a time when editors and sampadaks were revered people of letters, public intellectuals who turned the tide of public opinion at the stroke of pen. Now, literally every Taluka of the country has several ‘editors’ who churn out ‘news’ on their web portals and social media platforms.
What sets this local media apart from the traditional print and electronic media? – firstly their poor resources and limited infrastructure, but more importantly local media focuses on reporting local level issues, politics, gossips and events. Rarely do they have the time or the capacity for analysis or commentary which is left to the traditional media.
Thus, there is a disjoint – the local media which is present in the grassroots and which devotes time and efforts to report every small event in the vicinity end up producing news which remain unlinked to the larger regional, national or international stories. The traditional media, on the other hand, are almost entirely devoted to the national and the international. They have no space at all for the issues and concerns of the little people who live in the out-of-the-way places except for when they decide to do a ‘human interest story’ or when these concerns, for various reasons, become impossible to ignore.
The Vidarbha Gazette wishes to fill this gap by remaining committed to the grassroots issues and concerns and trying to link these with the bigger picture. Thus the grassroots is not merely the supplier of examples and evidences but it is an essential part of and sometimes even central to the understanding of big things like politics, economy, culture and law.
Both the founder-editors, Kalyan Kumar and Paromita Goswami, are based in Chandrapur district of Vidarbha. They are active participants in the politics of the place through their involvement in Panchayati Raj Institutions, social organizations, legal practice and community-oriented livelihood programmes over several decades. They have closely watched the rise of and the functioning of local media through their many friends in that field. They are convinced that at least some of the local news being generated and discarded at tremendous speed would gain in relevance if it is collated, analysed and commented upon. The Vidarbha Gazette was started as a step towards that end, with the hope of taking citizens’ journalism to the next level. Vidarbha remains the focus of this endeavour– it provides the context to the writings in this digital platform, which may of course resonate with the realities in many other parts of the country.
Last but not the least, The Vidarbha Gazette remains committed to you dear readers. Your comments, critiques and support will guide its future course.