|Geraldine Forbes addresses the audience at American Center as the young reporters look on. (Sanat Kr Sinha)|
Chandrima S. Bhattacharya, TT, March 29: A group of young girls have come together to bring out a newspaper in six districts of Bengal.
Nojore Khobor (Eye on news) is a four-page tabloid that has been coming out for the last five months. Some of its 60-odd editor-reporters, most of them still in school, were present at American Center on Wednesday.
Also present was Geraldine Forbes, historian specialising on colonial India and women's histories. She is also closely associated with the work of Jabala, the Calcutta NGO that has trained the girls to bring the newspaper out and is funding the project.
Nojore Khobor, being published from Murshidabad, Birbhum, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, North 24-Parganas and Calcutta, is not sold, but put up on stands at marketplaces in towns and villages near its place of publication. It is an ideal world of a captive readership and advertisement-free pages, but the young reporters are proud of their training as pros.
"We remember the W.W.W.W.W.H. principle when reporting," says Rabeya Khatun, a schoolgirl from Hariharpara block, Murshidabad, referring to the "Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?" rule.
Supriya Sarkar, another schoolgirl from Hariharpur block, spoke about how she had reported on a girl who was trafficked because her father owed Rs 20,000 to a friend.
The girls were in conversation with Swati Bhattacharjee. Though they face resistance, from their own families, or their neighbourhoods, when they go out to do stories, they find people around them opening out to them. If reporting is a struggle, it is also empowering.
As a journalist in the audience pointed out, such stories were strong because they came out of listening to people, not just "official sources".
Forbes of State University, New York, Oswego, who has been working on the representation of youths in the media, said the project was important because it allowed young people to talk about themselves, their lives. "Otherwise they are represented sensationally, often in the context of child abuse and violence," she said.