Khabar Lahariya, started in 2002, has now almost become the backbone of the people of the rural areas in Bundelkhand and Awadh – extremely backward and impoverished areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the country’s two most populous and yet socially backward states.
The weekly, initially started by seven women with a limited number of copies, now boasts of 40 women journalists, a print run of 10,000, and 80,000 readers.
The eight-page weekly is distributed in all the Hindi-speaking states. The onus of editing, publishing and marketing is on the women journalists of Khabar Lahariya.
Khabar Lahariya has also launched its web site – wwwkhabarlahariya.org.in.
In 2013, Khabar Lahriya began its online edition which recently won ‘The Bobs (best of online activism) special Global Media Forum award’ by Deutshe Welle. “Training women who had never used technology was a challenge. At first, we tried sending them to computer institutes but they learnt nothing in three months as the instructors were too sceptical about their abilities. We realised that the fastest way to teach these women how to operate computers was to demystify the process and allow them to make mistakes, says Shalini Joshi, co-founder of Khabar Lahriya. “Some years back I only knew how to operate a mobile phone. Now I use InDesign software to design pages and also handle the backend of the website,” says Sharma who recently went to Mumbai to learn the Movie Maker software.
After a number of impactful stories from different villages hitherto untouched by mainstream media, the women journalists are not looked at with suspicion or derision anymore. “Now people even call us to give information because they know we want to help. It gives immense satisfaction to know that your work has made a difference,” signs off Sharma.