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Community Journalism in Orissa State, India

Posted by Dillip Pattanaik on
Orissa State Volunteers and Social Workers Assn

This paper from the Orissa State Volunteers and Social Workers Association' (OSVSWA) talks about conditions in rural India and the sore need for community news coverage.

If you'd like to find out more or support their work, here is their website.

(From the intro - report is attached below)

What we found here in working in rural part of Orissa State in India since last 3 decades through our various community governance and development interventions is that the democratic ideals are often only just that in rural India, because of low literacy, lack of standards among rural news media and lack of rural coverage by urban media.

Concerning to community journalism, appropriate capacity of the different stakeholders at community level is required to mitigate the problems. Currently the media is far from the rural communities to capture, cover and disseminate the issues and problems of rural communities. In Indian context, media is becoming more capital intensive and market oriented, which creates the space for capitalists and moneyed persons to own and control media. As a result, media is the puppet in the hands of influential groups and meets the dimension of interests of the elite and privileged groups. As the media is in the hands of the powerful persons and serves their interest, it is difficult to create a space for community needs and ground realities and amplifying voices against the injustice and vested interests. If so, in some cases, it might be difficult to survive. Money has a critical role in determining the dissemination of news which ignores the serving of real and fact based news. Given the context, serious news related to community issues finds no due space to be inserted. Drawing the conclusion, enabling factors are completely lacking for which the mission of community journalism has failed to grow at very basic level. The factors analyzed above have not created an appropriate environment for facilitation of journalism as a profession in real sense, and the professionalism in the sector has not grown satisfactory in Orissa / India. On the other hand, the journalism has been and to a large extent seems as a means to achieve political clout / to be a fixer in the ponder circle / to get social status. With ambit of such intention and attitude, the community journalism fails in true sense. Finally, the media in the context of India and Orissa are elitist biased.

Based on the practical issue stated above, we consulted with some of the eminent professors of Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issue of University of Kentucky (USA), Journalism and Mass Communication Department of Manipal University (India) and Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of Berhampur University (Orissa) to work collaboratively on a project “Advancing Community Journalism and Promoting Community Journalists in the Rural and Tribal Areas (indigenous) of Orissa, India”.