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Odisha brings out the first community newspaper ‘Namaskar’

 

Monday June 09, 2014

PEOPLE, COMMUNITY MEDIA, NEWSPAPER, NAMASKAR  
 

"Taking a step beyond just reaching the people, ‘Namaskar’ – the first purely community produced and managed newspaper – made its appearance in Konark as a 16 pager fortnightly tabloid on October 1, 2012. Under patronisation of Naseem Ahmed Shah Ansari, popularly Ansari, the chief functionary of Odisha’s first community radio centre ‘Radio Namaskar’, the newspaper is not just a newspaper, but a forum for the people of Gop block in Odisha’s Puri district as it empowers common people and the local community with the basic tools to do reporting for it, to do the editing and manage the newspaper.

 

Basudev Mahapatra

 
 

‘Uncle, did you see the interview of paperman (newspaper hawker) Budhia Bhai? I have interviewed him,’ a young girl S Kajol, in the first year of her graduation, told me while I was just looking over the content of ‘Namaskar’. Later I came to know that the young girl Kajol was the leader of the editorial team that edited the content of the fortnightly community newspaper.

Taking a step beyond just reaching the people, ‘Namaskar’ – the first purely community produced and managed newspaper – made its appearance in Konark as a 16 pager fortnightly tabloid on October 1, 2012. Under patronisation of Naseem Ahmed Shah Ansari, popularly Ansari, the chief functionary of Odisha’s first community radio centre ‘Radio Namaskar’, the newspaper is not just a newspaper, but a forum for the people of Gop block in Odisha’s Puri district as it empowers common people and the local community with the basic tools to do reporting for it, to do the editing and manage the newspaper.

 

First of its kind in Odisha, may be in India as well, Namaskar is way ahead of either collaborative journalism or the concept citizen journalism by making it a citizens’ newspaper where no journalist or writer is involved in between but the community itself is the content generator and its editor.

‘We are very much excited with the launching of ‘Namaskar’ newspaper because we are now empowered to write our own problems for which we had to request a local journalist earlier. Many times, our issues were not coming in any newspaper. But now, we can bring any of our issues to the notice of the people and the administration through our own newspaper,’ says Pusparani Swain, Sarpanch of Banakhandi Gram Panchayat and a member of the editorial team of the community newspaper.

Limiting its coverage area to only one Block, i.e., the Gop Block in Puri District of Odisha, ‘Namaskar’ has put news boxes in all Gram Panchayat headquarters and near all government offices requesting people to just drop the news or issues they want to come in the newspaper. ‘We are amazed to receive about 300 such news in just a week through the news boxes. We never expected such huge response from the people,’ said N A Shah Ansari, the promoter of Namaskar and guide to its editorial team.

‘This is an innovative effort to bring various issues of people in form of firsthand reports,’ said Dr Arvind Padhi, the Revenue Divisional Commissioner of Central Range while dedicating the newspaper to the people of Gop Block.

The unique aspect of the newspaper that truly makes it a community newspaper is that ‘Namaskar’ has no reporter to go to places and collect news. Each and every member of Gop Block is its reporter; anybody can write his/ her problem and just drop it in the news box for publication. There is no outside editor to scrutinise the news but a group of editors from the community and from different backgrounds are to crosscheck the veracity and make the news through for publication. ‘It’s run by us, we are the reporters, we are the editors,’ said Kajol, the young editorial leader of ‘Namaskar’.

‘Because, the present system of applying for newspapers doesn’t allow us to apply it in the name of a group as its owner, we are in the process of transferring the ownership to the team who will look after the complete management of the newspaper on behalf of the people of the Block’, announced the present patron of the newspaper while launching the first issue of it.

‘Namaskar’, the effort itself seems to be a great step in democratising media and taking a step in the direction of converting media into a forum for people to raise their voice directly.

 
 

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