Taaza Khabar: Journos Journey
Director: Bishakha Datta; Cinematographer: Ranu Ghosh
Duration: 00:44:25; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 352.458; Saturation: 0.033; Lightness: 0.399; Volume: 0.149; Cuts per Minute: 13.867; Words per Minute: 41.173
Summary: Part of the footage of the film Taaza Khabar directed by Bishakha Datta and produced by Nirantar. The film is about the journey of a team of all women journalists of Khabar Lahariya (a grassroots newspaper published by the women themselves) through several obstacles. The determined efforts are to ensure the 62nd issue of Khabar Lahariya reaches its readers on time. The women are from Chitrakoot district in U.P. who report stories that find no space in mainstream media. It also portrays how these women have created their own space and established their identity in a context where patriarchy and caste-based discriminations are dominant. In this event, members of the Khabar Lahariya team - Manju, Kavita and Mira are interviewed by Bishakha in which they share their experiences as a journalist and their personal stories. In the last series of sequence the event also captures Shanti distributing Khabar Lahariya in the village.
Bishakha (B): What is your name and what do you do?
Manju (M): I am Manju, I have been working as a journalist with Khabar Lahariya since March 2005.
B: Tell us something about your education
M: I have done my first to eight standard from the Issai (Christian) school in Karvi. From the ninth to the sixth standard I did my schooling in Girls High School also in Karvi.
Bishakha interviews Manju about her background and education. She asks her about her early days when she was being trained as a journalist. Manju talks about her apprenticeship times at Khabar Lahariya. She recollects her early days as a journalist and her experiences during various assignments especially those when she had to go to places all by herself to cover stories. She talks about the challenges she faced when she had to learn the Bundeli language to write for the newspaper, and how, many times, as she was more comfortable with Hindi, she would end up writing more in Hindi than in Bundeli. Manju gets critical of herself when Bishakha asks her if she considers herself as a journalist now. Manju says that she does, but not as much as she would like to, because she lacks the knowledge and understanding of several issues which a good journalist should be conversant with.
Karwi, Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh
B: How much have you studied?
M: I have studied till inter
B: You have been in Khabar Lahariya for about six months, what all have you learnt from that?
M: Before this I had never worked. I did not even go out, all I did was to stay at home and study. So here I have become confident and now have more information like for a news from a village, who are the people to talk to, for dowry deaths who are the people to talk to like the police, for electricity news talk to officers in that particular division. They do not give proper information, or tell their own names. Now that I know how to talk, they also have gotten to know that I am a journalist and treat me nicely and give the necessary information.
B: You said initially you would not go alone. So how was the first three months?
M: First three months I would I would accompany Kavita didi (sister), Shanti didi. I had no information, so I would be a little scared too.
B: Tell me how was you training here in that period
M: When I joined first from 28th Feb to 4th March there was a four day workshop. Then the new joiners who were interviewed had all come, from Banda also girls had come. I had my training there. There we learnt how to write news, how to collect news, for interviews first one should frame questions and then how to write it with all details all of that was taught. Also in Bundeli language we were given to write a newspaper. I wrote a few times, could not get it right. But in the end I got it right. Then by three months as I started going to places with the sisters, who all to talk to, how to get the information. Initially I was very scared of the police, but now since I have joined I go alone and talked to policemen and gather information. I would distribute the paper also to them. The fear in me has vanished.
B: When did you start going on your own?
M: In the first three months I would go with the sisters but at the end I would also go alone at times. Like to officers I would be sent alone and they would want to check how I get the information. When I would go alone they would not give me the information or complete information, then I would take the sisters and then they would open up. But as they got to know me, now they cooperate. That time I was sent alone to investigate the murder in the hills. I just spoke to the people there, but the second time I was told to go the murdered man's house and the girl who was involved and talk to them alone. So I went and did it by myself
B: When you would write earlier and now that you write for Khabar Lahariya, what do you feel is the difference?
M: I have studied in Hindi, I have never studied Bundeli. I just have working knowledge of it. But when I write I tend to write in Hindi. Initially it would be difficult and would comprise of the Hindi words.
I would tell my colleagues to teach Bundeli, how to speak and if you have some reading material give me, I will learn from that. Through such processes I have improved but inspite of that there are Hindi words that I mix it up with. Also at times when I am supposed to write in Hindi,I end up writing in Bundeli!
B: Now do you consider yourself as a Journalist?
M: Yes, but not in totality. I do not have as much information as much a journalist is supposed to have. Like understanding of politics, any news printed in my newspaper and I should be able to answer queries related to it. In international news I goof up with national and international and the capital states etc.
If I manage to equip myself with all the information I would consider myself as a full fledged journalist.
Mira (M): How is the issue this time?
Man (Mn): Very nice sister
M: Yes looks nice and the photographs have also come out nice.
M: Get me 50 copies…all the photographs are nice
Mn: The size is also bigger this time
M: Yes, but its alright this time. Last time it was smaller.
An office boy in Khabar Lahariya and Mira look at freshly printed copies of the newspaper and get engrossed in post production work, which involves arranging and folding the copies of Khabar Lahariya so that they are ready to be distributed.
Mira closely looks at the copies and starts to count them while the man sits and folds the copies. They work silently, occasionally addressing the other person if needed. Meera then starts to fold the papers into half, keeping them away as she finishes with each copy.
M: I need 50 copies, should I take it from here then?
Mira counts the copies of the paper
B: What is your name and what do you do?
Mira(M): My name is Mira and I work as a journalist with Khabar Lahariya
Bishakha interviews Meera abour herself, her background and growth as a journalist. She asks her where she is from and how long it takes for her to reach office everyday. Meera tell her she stays 50 kms away from office at Mau and it takes her two hours to travel to work. She shares her experience of how she joined Khabar Lahariya right from the beginning. Before joining Khabar Lahariya, that she was part of Mahila Dakiya (a local newsletter produced by rural women that was initiated prior to Khabar Lahariya as part of the government scheme called Mahila Samakhya, which aims to promote and encourage education of rural women. For more information, check http://www.nirantar.net/tl_participatory.htm
B: One second just stop it
Mumbling of Camera person and Bishakha
B: What is your name and what do you do?
M: My name is Mira and I work as a journalist with Khabar Lahariya
B: Where do you stay and how do you commute?
M: I stay 50 kms from here in Mao block that is a Kasba. It takes me two hours to reach here
B: How did you start working with Khabar Lahariya
M: I have been associated with Khabar Lahariya from the beginning.
I was initially working with Mahila Samakhya. There I was with Mahila Dakiya but not to a great extent. But I was associated with Shalini didi and all. In Mahila Samakhya there would be work going on in Ramnagar block, so I was in touch with them. When Khabar Lahariya was initiated I was informed about it and I got engaged with it from the very first edition.
Bishakha asks Meera about her family. Meera readily shares all the details about her home, and who she lives with. She names all her five daughters and very proudly narrates how they are all supportive of her work. When Bishakha asks her how come she has five daugthers, Meera pauses before answering the question, unsure of what to say. She admits that they wanted a son, and in that hope they continued trying to have children. But after they had their fifth and youngest daughter, she and her husband decided to stop trying to have a son and now consider all their five children as both sons and daughters.
B: Who all are there at your place?
M: My inlaws are in Karvi but I stay with my aunt in Mao. In Karvi I have my father and mother in law, two brother-in-laws and their wives. In Mao I have my aunt, my husband and my five daughters. They are Monica, Priyanka, Anamika, Deepika and the youngest one is Poornima who we call Golu at home.
B: Tell us something about your five daughters.
M: My daughters support me a lot in my work, except the youngest. The eldest is now in high school but she helps me with the household work. Like I have to leave at 6.30-7 in the morning, so she does half the work, even my husband helps. So that's how my daughters share responsibilities with me.
B: How five daughters?
M: (Smiling) one for the family that we will have a son and we also did not think of the future, that's why wishing for a son we ended up with five daughters. After Golu's birth we decided that whether a boy or a girl we need not care, we will now treat our five daughters as sons and daughters both.
Meera talks about her experience being a journalist and her family's attitude towards it. Initially, she had a lot of problems where her husband was unsupportive of her career, and used to consider journalism as a dangerous profession. It was only after she got an income and was praised for her work, that her family's attitude towards her job changed. They started to slowly support it. Meera says that she always had a love to work since she was young, and enjoyed it immensely. She manages late hours and the household with a fine balance.
B: What does your family think about your work?
M: Initially my husband, my aunt would not approve of the fact saying it is a dangerous job. Also my inlaws thought the same about it. But gradually I explained that once I go out and do it then only it will be out of danger only then. When I received the scholarship from Dalit foundation, everywhere we were acknowledged then my family realized it is exemplary work. They started supporting from then and never stopped me again
B: Sometimes you have to stay back in the nights?
M: Yes eight days a month when there are workshops and we write the newspaper
B: Who takes care of the house then?
M: My aunt, my husband and my eldest daughter takes care of the house
B: How do you manage so much work?
M: I am very used to working, when I was young I used to work very fast. Whether it is at home, or outside, I regard any work as my own and have strict timelines to finish them.
B: When you initially joined Khabar Lahariya did you consider yourself as a journalist or is it at some later stage?
Camera person adjusts Mira's lapel mike
B: I will have to ask you again…When you initially joined Khabar Lahariya did you consider yourself as a journalist or is it at some later stage?
M: Not initially because we haven't had training except for the workshops held by Nirantar which enabled us to publish the newspaper. But when three of us got the scholarship from Dalit foundation and the Chameli Devi award was given to us we felt we were also in the league of journalists. We were appreciated and felicitated and started being invited in meetings. That was time we felt we were journalists who could go anywhere and talk to anyone.
chameli devi award
Bishakha tries to understand Meera's perspective on herself as a journalist. Meera talks about how she inititally did not consider herself as a journalist. It was only after Nirantar (the NGO that started Khabar Lahariya) trained them and they got recognition of their work through awards, that she felt herself as being a serious journalist.
B: So Kavita what were you saying?
Kavita (K): I was saying that when we out to get news what are the difficulties we face on which I would like to add that for news from the village we get news from both parties in some way or the other but when we deal with the administration we face hurdles. The officers we deal with they will ask us to come back later, or meet them at their homes, at times they treat us wrongly as we are women who have come. So we have to deal with all of these issues.
Kavita stands besides a red postbox with Khabar Lahariya painted on it. She talks about the difficulties they face as women journalists when they go out to acquire news.
B: Why don't we do it that way?
B: So Kavita you were telling me about another difficulty…
K: I was saying that when we out to get news what are the difficulties we face on which I would like to add that for news from the village we get news from both parties in some way or the other but when we deal with the administration we face hurdles. The officers like the DM or whoever we deal with they will ask us to come back later, or meet them at their homes, at times they treat us wrongly as we are women who have come. So we have to deal with all of these issues.
B: Ok ready?
The Khabar Lahariya team pose for a photograph with their accolades. It is a light and happy moment as the journalists smile proudly at their achievement.
Shanti (S): Hey brother, where are you?
Voice: So Khabar Lahariya has come?
S: Yes please be my auspicious first customer.
Voice: Well it is noon now.
S: So come out, where are you hiding in the dark? Read Khabar Lahariya and tell me about it.
S: Take it brother. I do not have change right now…so you will remember it right?
Man: When I see your paper I get very happy
S: Yes, and you did not realize it all this while?
Man: This is a clear cut newspaper with good news. I am not that educated so this one in the regional language and I love reading it. It is my edition right?
S: Yes yours.
Man: This one is from here and is printed in Allahabad, in Bhargav Press
Doctor: What is it?
S: Khabar Lahariya
Doctor: What do I do with it?
Shanti goes into the village to distribute copies of the new edition of Khabar Lahariya. She moves around the village talking to several people establishing new reader base and reiterating old ones. She hands over the paper to men and women asking them if they know about Khabar Lahariya, and explains it to those who have not heard about it. She goes into homes, shops and stops by the street to distribute, inform, educate and encourage the villagers to read the newspaper.