Video Volunteers will create a network of Community Correspondents from remote parts of India who will identify and highlight the challenges and solutions of disadvantaged communities through collaboration with leading social sector organizations. By joining networks of civil society organizations with poor communities that have important local knowledge and information, this collaboration will elevate the voices of the poor in India so that they are heard by authorities.
This network of 200 Community Correspondents will be the seeds of a grassroots newswire that will fill the gap for high quality, low cost human interest content pushed out of the areas where the media is absent. These Community Correspondents will be recruited through networks of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and given two weeks of training in computer and IT skills, video production, reporting, creating impact, and representing their communities in the media. They will then start to produce videos that they will broadcast locally, as well as nationally via the media and the platforms of the social sector partners. These videos will enable the creation of change by incorporating the voices of those who have previously gone unrecognized in important discussions.
Video Volunteers will recruit and train this network, and then distribute their content to the media, NGOs, governments and researchers. Furthermore, by helping the Correspondents plan out local 'action campaigns,' Video Volunteers will also assist the Community Correspondents to become local agents of change in their areas, and shining examples of how a community can solve its own issues.
- Between January and March of 2013, Video Volunteers will map areas where Community Correspondents will be recruited, targeting the poorest areas in India, such as Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa. Local activists will be identified for training by June of 2013.
- By November of 2013, Video Volunteers will create an editorial board of civil society members convened to bring the voice of communities into the debate.
- By the end of 2013, 150 Community Correspondents will have been trained, and 800 videos will have been produced. Numerous local actions will have been created because of the videos, and they will have been used by NGOs, academics, and mainstream media.
- In 2014, the process will be repeated. Video Volunteers will recruit and train 50 more Community Correspondents who will be at work creating content by the end of that year, and another 400 videos will have been produced.
- In total, by the end of 2014 approximately 200 Community Correspondents will have been trained, who will have produced around 1,200 videos on crucial issues of health, education, sanitation and human rights, as seen from the ground up.
Disadvantaged rural communities in the developing world do not have access to the media or decision-makers, and the media and decision-makers don't cover their issues. These communities are voiceless and unheard. In India, on any given day, the mainstream press allots two percent of its coverage to rural issues, despite the fact that 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Because of this disconnect between the poor and decision-makers; the poor cannot make their needs known to decision-makers (i.e., government and policy-makers) and cannot effectively advocate for themselves. The corridors of power are blocked for the poor. In addition, the poor have local knowledge that is crucial for addressing the underlying causes of poverty and the resulting issues, and decision-makers formulate less effective solutions because they can't access the know-how of those whose lives will be impacted by these decisions.
Further, there is little investment in the intellectual development of poor communities, and even less investment in developing their powerful, articulate voice and their problem-solving, solution-finding skills - even after basic needs have been met. So the poor remain merely as 'subjects' not 'creators' of content, appearing in the mainstream media as utterly disempowered and capable only of complaining. There is little value placed on first-hand experience, and few people question the fact that policies and journalism on poverty are created by people with zero first-hand life experience of poverty. For instance, even in Indian states that are 70 percent Tribal in population, there isn't one Tribal journalist.
Finally, in part because local people don't have the tools and the training to shine a light on the injustices they face, corruption is rampant at a local level.