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I'm a journalist.
And I know how frustrating it gets
when most of your stories go unnoticed.
I felt it when I worked as a local reporter
in my hometown Belgaum, in India.
I thought maybe joining a national newspaper would help.
So I went through professional training
and worked with India's three national newspapers.
During my five-year stint, I used to travel for my stories.
It was in early 2012
I traveled 1,000 miles from Mumbai to a coastal village in south India.
I was there to do a story
on environmental risk of a nuclear power plant.
When I spoke to a local activist,
he said the story of hundreds of villagers protesting against a nuclear power plant
was reported by local media
six months before national TV channels picked it up.
I had similar experiences when I traveled for other stories.
It confirmed my belief that a local reporter knows a story
much before it is picked up by national media.
But like me, they did not have a platform to share them.
According to a 2011 media study,
only two percent of India's mainstream media coverage
is about rural issues.
Even though almost 70 percent of India's population,
1.3 billion population, live in villages.
This is disturbing for a democratic country like India,
where transparency is key to ensure justice to everyone, especially the poor.
I was convinced that there's a need to build a platform
to bring out this important story at the national level.
So I quit my job with "Economic Times" in December 2014.
For the next six months, I freelanced
and also built a database of 20,000 local reporters across India.
During that time,
I saw editors who were looking for more and more contributors
as news organizations cut down cost
by getting rid of hundreds of full-time reporters.
I saw an opportunity to highlight these important stories
if I can train these local reporters
and connect them with the mainstream media.
And that is exactly what we are doing.
Our tech platform, for the first time, discovers a local reporter,
grooms them,
and helps them write for national and international publications.
A team of experienced editors works closely with these local reporters
on each and every story filed by them.
This process not only helps the local reporters learn reporting skills
but also gives credibility to their stories.
In June 2017,
one of our local reporters, Saurabh Sharma,
won an international award from the European Commission
for his story on the hardships faced by young girls living on the street.
We're also trying to correct market for these local reporters,
by paying them three times more than the existing rates.
Better pay and recognition is giving them confidence
to dig deeper and expose corruption in the system and society.
We recently reported a story from Northeast India
where children have to cross a river in a huge cooking pot,
risking their life every day,
because there's no bridge, there's no boat.
The story was picked up by mainstream media
and it caught the attention of a local elected representative
who promised to build a bridge.
In the last three years of our operations,
we have reported more than 2,500 such stories.
To publish them for a wider reach and impact,
we have partnered with 16 leading media houses,
who are happy to take them,
as it brings their cost down, by not editing or managing reporters.
Today, we have more than 1,200 reporters in our network,
covering stories like the nuclear power plant,
from places that are either ignored by mainstream media
or never covered.
In the next five years,
we plan to have one reporter in each of the 5,500 subdistricts in India,
covering the entire nation,
to ensure that none of these important stories go unnoticed.
Next time you see a story from the countryside,
please do not ignore it.
Do read and share them, they might be breaking stories.
This way, we can ensure
none of the important stories go unnoticed.
Thank you.
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【TED】Gangadhar Patil: How we're helping local reporters turn important stories into national news (How we're helping local reporters turn important stories into national news | Gangadhar Patil)

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林宜悉 published on October 31, 2019
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