Happy tidings from the Northeast: East Mojo
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Happy tidings from the Northeast: East Mojo

A group of enterprising youngsters from the northeast are working hard to make the voice of the region heard

brunch Updated: Oct 01, 2018 12:56 IST
Lubna Salim
Lubna Salim
Hindustan Times
Assam’s Krabi Anglong district,trap of fake news,fake news
Journalists at the East Mojo newsroom in Guwahati

What happens when 14 innocent children lose their lives when a fire breaks out in a school that happens to be in a remote town in Arunachal Pradesh, and the news goes unreported by any media - print or electronic? Or, do you recall the loss of lives of two innocent youngsters who were mob lynched in Assam’s Krabi Anglong district being mistaken as child abductors due to a fake news spread on Facebook in June this year. Add to that countless instances of sms and email scams and what you have is a bunch of gullible people of from the remote, Northeastern states of India constantly falling prey to the trap of fake news.

Damage control

With the vision to amplify news from the oft-ignored Northeastern part of India to the rest of the country and the world the East Mojo news portal launched in August this year is like a ray sunshine in the Northeast.

Not only is this news portal reporting and verifying news in and from the region, but East Mojo has also recently tied-up with Impulse NGO lead by Ashoka fellow Hasina Kharbhi to start a campaign that involves training citizen journalists across Northeast to fight fake news.

Award-winning journalist Karma Paljor is the editor-in-chief of East Mojo

“We’ll start training citizen journalists in the remotest towns and villages of the Northeast to make news videos. These will be shared by them with our reporters - in the national capitals of Imphal, Aizwal and the like via WhatsApp -- who will then verify them and send it to us,” explains Karma Paljor, the portal’s editor-in-chief and a senior journalist with 18 years of experience with top Indian media houses.

Headquartered in Guwahati, the East Mojo is run by a team of 14 journalists posted in the Assamese capital lead by Karma as well as reporters based out of each of the Northeastern states

And, as an incentive these citizen reporters will be paid anything between Rs 100 to Rs 300 for each video report depending on it’s quality. Karma explains that East Mojo has a state of the art video editing studio and they are focusing on video reporting as the youth of the Northeast is more inclined to access news through this medium.

“Additionally, the smartphone penetration in these small towns and villages is quite high and five out of seven people have access to the Internet, which makes such a module feasible for us. So, the first phase of this module will include giving video journalism training to these people via smartphones, which they will sent to us via WhatsApp, the easiest way to share videos,” says Karma.

A bright future

Headquartered in Guwahati, the East Mojo is run by a team of 14 journalists posted in the Assamese capital lead by Karma as well as reporters based out of each of the Northeastern states.

“Just like me, these journos in my team too decided to come back to their hometown and work towards eradicating the racket of fake news that spreads like wildfire in the Northeastern part of the country,” adds Karma and explains how only 1 to 1.5 per cent of the news of the Northeast attracts the attention of the national media. Moreover, he also feels that the remoteness of these areas makes it inaccessible and as a result ignored.

So, East Mojo aims to educate and spread awareness among the people of the Northeast who are very vulnerable and blindly believe fake news and email scams promising gifts and money.

Going forward, after covering the Northeast, East Mojo wants to extend it’s reach and operations in the north of Bengal, Orissa and gradually the whole of Eastern Indian. “That’s why the word ‘East’ in the name East Mojo,” Karma signs off with a smile.

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From HT Brunch, September 30 , 2018

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First Published: Sep 29, 2018 22:38 IST