The latest issue of Gaon Connection
It is customary for urban consumers of media content of a certain background to rue the near total dominance of urban news in India. These well-meaning but eventually ineffectual urbanites pop up from time to time on various platforms such as Google Hangout to state the obvious, the obvious being that rural news just does not make the cut in the frenziedly corporatized broadcast and print media.
Of course, this is a valid concern but for it to rise to the level of actually transforming the media landscape so heavily skewed in favor of urban preoccupations people of means and consequence need to start putting their money where their mouth is.
One shining example where people of means and consequence can put their money is dear friend and fellow journalist Neelesh Misra’s rural newspaper Gaon Connection. I have written about the weekly in Hindi before and I write again because after over a year of outstanding rural journalism in the hinterland of the country’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, Neelesh and his stellar team still have to struggle to ensure that things do not suddenly unravel.
As an occasional columnist for the paper I want to again reach out to whoever is reading this blog to pay attention. At a time when multibillion rupee broadcast media companies in Delhi and Mumbai are being coopted by corporate moneybags to do their bidding it is particularly important that ventures such as Gaon Connection are given the support they so eminently deserve.
As Neelesh and his team get ready to prepare a rural news show culled from their own Gaon Connection reportage for India’s state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan, there is a great opportunity for people of means to reach out and sponsor the show.
It is to the credit of Neelesh and his team, including his father Dr. S B Misra who is the editor-in-chief, that Gaon Connection has stayed afloat in the face of relentless existential challenges. The challenge for the team is to court funding even while staying true their original mandate of complete editorial independence. Of course, that is a conflict as old as the media themselves and not unique to Neelesh and his team. Now that they have managed to sustain the newspaper for a year and make considerable impact it could be easier than before to get funding with relatively few strings attached.
The rural television show produced by serious professionals has great ratings as well as content potential. If the Gaon Connection team’s record so far is any measure, I think they can produce outstanding television spun off from the very content they report week after week.
So my appeal to those who state the obvious about how urban centric the media has become would be to get off their cushioned asses and start supporting ventures such as Gaon Connection. You don’t invitation. You need inspiration.