India's online newspaper wins German award for social activism

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 01, 2014 15:52 hrs

Bonn: A little known weekly online Indian newspaper 'Khabar Lahariya', brought out by a group of women journalists living in rural areas, has won a German award for best online activism.

Khabar Lahariya was given 'the Bobs (best of online activism) special Global Media Forum award' by Deutshe Welle at a function here.

"It is really encouraging to receive the award. It recognises rural women efforts living in backward areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar," said Poorvi Bhargava, Editorial Coordinator for the newspaper.

Khabar Lahariya (news waves) is an eight-page weekly local language newspaper' published by a group of 40 rural women journalists.

The newspaper publishes about 6,000 copies which get distributed across 600 villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

It has readership of about 80,000 per week.

"We cover the stories which are related to the local people. What affect them and concern them," Bhargava said.

Khabar Lahariya has its roots in Bundelkhand, a region ridden with poverty, low literacy rates, skewed sex ratio, high gender and caste-based violence and poor health education and employment, according to the newspaper's portal.

"Our NGO has been working for women empowerment. While we were working for upliftment of women in areas of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, we were asked by these women to give voice to their efforts. That is why we started the newspaper and last year the web portal," Bhargava told PTI after receiving the award here yesterday.

When asked as to how an 'online' edition of the newspaper would be successful in an area considered to be backward with less internet connectivity, Bhargava said "these days people are getting mobile phones. Our aim is to ensure availability of Khabar Lahariya and its accessibility through internet-connected mobile phones."

"There is fast growing population of people, especially youths, in the region who are getting friendlier with the technology and acquiring mobile phones and other such devices," she said.

Talking about the challenges, Bhargava said that the cost of printing one copy of newspaper is about Rs 22 but we sell it in Rs 2.

"So there is a big gap as far as cost of newspaper is concerned. We need to fill it through various models we are working for revenue generation to meet expenses," she said.

There is an addition cost for bringing out newspaper in other regional languages, Bhargava said.