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Want to be a Citizen reporter?

Organisation Video Volunteers is allowing those interested to apply online, train in Goa, turn full-time community news reporters.

entertainment Updated: Jun 30, 2011 16:40 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times

For all those who want to help bring to notice issues that plague rural India, here’s your opportunity. Video Volunteers: India Unheard (VV), a citizen journalist organisation of sorts, is recruiting their next batch of community reporter-producers.

As part of this programme, those interested are trained in video recording and editing techniques and encouraged to capture issues they, and others in their community, face. These recordings are then screened for the entire community in an attempt to help them realise and subsequently address the problems. “If the issue pertains to a particular topic that can be pin-pointed, then we ask them to show the video to the concerned officer from the government,” says Siddharth Pillai, communications manager, VV.

Recently, a reporter in Jharkand shot a story about a schoolteacher taking bribes from students to teach them. The video was shown to the state development officer, who took immediate action and suspended the culprit. The ultimate aim for VV is to recruit a team of reporters-producers for each of India’s 645 districts. Currently, they have 45 people working with them. “We want more women to apply, that has been our focus for this recruitment drive,” adds Pillai. “But the response hasn’t been good. Not more than two or three have shown interest.”

The process

Once the applications are screened, the best are selected and put through two months of intensive technical and theoretical training in Goa. “Initially we will help them develop story ideas, then they go out on their own,” explains Pillai.

Apart from being uploaded on www.indiaunheard.videovolunteers.org, the videos were previously also aired on national television. Until now, they had a tie-up with News X, where they finished one season of the show called Speak Out India. “Our contract got over, and now we’re about to finalise another deal. We’re looking at a three-minute slot after each show for each story,” says Pillai, who has currently received 10 to 12 applications, of which eight or nine have potential. “The applicants just need to be community leaders, should know a little English and Hindi.”

Though it may seem like a full-time task, various volunteers have managed to sustain their day jobs as well. “We pay R 1,300 per video. People have trained with us, got a job and still continued to send two videos a month,” he says, adding, “We want people from marginalised communities to stand up.” Issues range from caste, arts-culture, and development to education, health, and technology.

First Published: Jun 30, 2011 12:59 IST