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Youth Ki Awaaz: A Mouthpiece for India’s YouthPosted by: admin on Wed, 2011-02-23 12:51
India’s growing youth population has an online destination where young people are the reporters, editors and readers. The website’s founder hopes the site will engage youth in improving their country.
As an online youth news portal, “Youth Ki Awaaz,” describes itself as “change hungry.” Created by 20-year-old Anshul Tewari of India, the portal was awarded the World Summit Youth Award last fall for “giving young people a voice.” Since launching two years ago, the project has gone global, with more than 200 people reporting for the site around the world.
Tewari, who lives in Bombay, founded “Youth Ki Awaaz” to serve an audience that he believes India’s mainstream media outlets have neglected: India’s youth.
“While preparing to enter college and introspecting more about myself, I found that young people in India had no voice -- no unbiased media platform that could highlight their thoughts and views, and take up the solutions that this generation was calling for,” says Tewari. “I decided to start a blog and named it ‘Youth Ki Awaaz,’ which literally translates to ‘voice of the youth.’”
Covering news through the eyes of youth
Tewari is pleased with response to the site, which now receives about 1 million pages views a month. More than 40 posts are published daily, on topics ranging from cricket to voting. Some of the most popular articles have addressed social problems like domestic violence in India and honour killings. Recent business and economic topics covered include social entrepreneurship and alternative career options. As the site’s popularity expands beyond India, youth are submitting reports from China, Nigeria and Bangladesh, among other countries.
Support for young reporters
The team behind “Youth Ki Awaaz” is dedicated to cultivating the next generation of bloggers and reporters. Their internship program, which has been instrumental in the expansion of the platform, coaches aspiring writers on how to improve their journalism skills. The editors who train the interns are either journalism or international affairs/politics students, or, like Tewari, have journalism experience. Before starting the portal, Tewari worked with The Wall Street Journal, Indian Express and Financial Express.
The website encourages submissions from anywhere and anyone. While there are no defined criteria for reporters, the portal has established firm editorial standards for articles.
“We have a strict publishing policy, and every write-up undergoes three rounds of editing before being published,” explains Tewari. “There are many reporters who need to develop their reportage skills and we help them in that, many write-ups are sent back for review -- but always with a feedback that helps these reporters develop and motivate themselves and send in compelling content.”
Highlighting development and social inequality
The website of “Youth Ki Awaaz” proclaims that “youth hold the key” to India’s development. Tewari admits that much of site’s reporter base and readership belongs to India’s privileged class. The editors are conscious of this and are pursuing opportunities to diversify its audience and contributors.
The site is partnering with philanthropic organizations working in rural areas to expose a rural audience to the site, acknowledging the fact that the language of the site, English, is not widely spoken in rural India. The editors have a personal interest in articles about innovative solutions to traditional problems with an emphasis on the need for rural development and the role of technology.
“We have been partners with a number of NGOs, such as Citizen Effect, who help rural projects/community-based projects raise funds through citizen philanthropy,” says Tewari. “Similarly, we are in talks with a few [other] NGOs working in rural areas to help us develop our base in those areas.”
In addition to covering stories about India’s growing economy, the website strives to publish articles that affect other aspects of the country’s development. Many articles are posted about problems people face in their daily lives and glaring inequalities in terms of wealth and education in the country.
“We have been trying our level best to address inequality issues, with write-ups on topics ranging from gender bias, caste discrimination, communal bias, bias against HIV-positive patients, and much more,” says Tewari. “We have also run short term campaigns dedicated to create awareness amongst our readers with the aim of removing these inequalities.”
A shoestring operation
Not surprisingly, as the platform has grown, the challenges have mounted. From technical back-end to sustainability issues, the problems have been many. Currently, the 12-person staff works on a volunteer basis.
“Initially, we faced a lot of problems with regard to the funding, since the online news market is dominated by big players, and new portals find it tough to get sponsors/funders,” says Tewari. “It was only in late 2010 that we have been able to break even.”
Youth Ki Awaaz website http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/category/business/.
Paromita Pain has been employed with The Hindu Newspaper, Chennai, India since January 2003. She writes for young people on a range of themes, with a special interest in media for young people, health issues, human rights and youth in situations of conflict. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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