Every Saturday, doctors, IT experts, students and professionals from various fields gather at the Government Library in Andheri to learn more about the news gathering process. These specialists double up as guest lecturers and explain the workings of, for instance, the police, civics issues, the RTI and more. The ultimate objective is to become citizen journalists who can help themselves and society, by reporting the inadequacies they see around themselves.
“People have issues with the system, but are unable to do anything to change it. By becoming citizen journalists, they can help by reporting on what went wrong and why,” says Shishir Joshi, programme director and a former journalist. It was to bridge this knowledge gap that Joshi and co-founder Aloke Thakore started a certificate course in citizen journalism. This is one of the several courses on offer at the JM Foundation for Excellence in Journalism, which was set up last year.
The two-month, three hour 10-session course is designed as a weekend programme. No qualifications are required nor is there an age limit. However, the basic knowledge to read and write is a must. Guest speakers include advocate Amit Karkhanis, ACP Brijesh Singh, Shirish Deshpande of Grahak Panchayat, Krishna Raj (RTI expert) among others.
At the end of the course, every student is provided an email id and posting privileges on a portal dedicated to citizen journalism called was CitizensReport.in. Joshi says, “They can upload images and reports. Media houses can then access them and do a follow up or a separate story. Since these students will know what they are doing, there will be credibility to their news.”
Plans to take this course across India are underway. Joshi says, “Goa will be next. We have already partnered with designer Wendell Rodricks there and will start the course soon.”