Youth Ki Awaaz’s award-winning, work-from-home online journalism internship program has till date coached over 1500 young participants, since 2010. The 8 week internship enables young people to become change-makers by disseminating information about vital issues and articulating themselves through a week by week writing-editing-publishing process. Numerous interns have attained an opportunity to work with esteemed media organizations. However, this impact can be amplified if we are able to expand the program, engage external trainers and make the program more inclusive.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
All over India
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
50% of India’s population is under the age of 40. Yet, this vast group did not have a dedicated platform for sharing opinion and engaging in nation building activities through a potent medium of expression. Mainstream media has failed to engage with this audience and has often ignored views of this demography while relaying news. Thus, youth opinions do not reach a mass audience, especially policy makers & are therefore unable to influence key policies or decisions. YKA’s mission is to serve as a unique platform for Indian youth on a variety of issues and at the same time provide a channel for young people in India to share and develop their opinions on crucial issues. Through our training, we engage young people to report news and opinions, and hence impact opinions in a positive way.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
Anshul Tewari, Founder, Youth Ki Awaaz.
Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anshul_Tewari ; http://anshultewari.com/ ; https://www.facebook.com/anshultewari ; https://twitter.com/anshul_tewari ; http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/topic/anshul/ ; http://in.linkedin.com/in/anshultewari
Tanaya Singh, Executive Director, Youth Ki Awaaz.
Links: https://www.facebook.com/tanaya.singh.3 ; https://twitter.com/tanayasingh/ ; YKA – http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/topic/tanayasingh/
Akhil Kumar, Sub-Editor, Youth Ki Awaaz.
Links: https://www.facebook.com/Akhil1490 ; https://twitter.com/Akhil1490 ; http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/topic/akhilkumar/ ; http://in.linkedin.com/pub/akhil-kumar/29/479/281
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
India’s youth voices are the most underrepresented in media & governance. The vision for the content on Youth Ki Awaaz is to create and amplify high impact stories by young people, on critical human rights issues, with strong call to action.
The program has been designed to train young people on skills of storytelling to express themselves on crucial socio-political issues that do not find their way in the traditional media, and drive unique reportage around them. Thus, the output will be stories by young writers and video bloggers focusing on pertinent issues with a view towards human rights, politics, society, culture and the arts – with strong focus on social virality to drive awareness and engagement while ensuring high quality.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
The internship program runs independently, however, during the course of the 8 week curriculum we tie up with mainstream news organizations to amplify youth voices and stories covered by our interns, and increase the horizon of their experiences as a part of a journalism internship. For instance, currently, in the 2nd week of the training, we organize bi-weekly video blog training sessions in collaboration with CNN IBN’s Citizen Journalism program as our knowledge partner and expert trainers. In the future, we hope to get more renowned journalists and experts as trainers for the program, drive more tie-ups with global journalism schools and news organizations to build an even more robust, wholesome and replicable curriculum with focus on collaborative and participatory journalism.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
The program will aim to train 30 participants over the course of 8 weeks, every 8 weeks throughout the year. We have been successful in sustaining participation by ensuring high value addition for our interns that directly impacts their personal and professional growth, through a rigorous, yet fun curriculum that focuses on individual impact by every intern, and immense peer to peer learning. We have learnt that if we are able to offer and ensure quality output for our interns there is higher retainment, more word-of-mouth promotion for our program, and increased interest and application for the next batches. We also wish to grow the program to accommodate more interns by engaging more trainers in the process.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
Since the program is a work-from-anywhere program, the training is conducted through effective e-mail communication, phone calls and Google Hangouts. Interns are given assignments to complete, and detailed feedback for every submission using pre-designed Google spreadsheets feedback forms. Trainers involved in video-blogging make use of Google hangouts to train interns from different corners of the country. All of these tools are extremely useful and appropriate for us since they sync in well with the interns’ daily work schedules, maintain ease of access by reducing additional technical requirements or activity on their part (such as logging into a new website for training), and deliver the course effectively.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
The high point of the program is that it is a work-from-home online journalism internship program and the best part is that the participants can join the program from anywhere – all they need is a computer and an internet connection. This geographical flexibility enables the participants with internet access from the most remote areas of the country to also avail the opportunity. However, for the trainers there is a formal setup at the Youth Ki Awaaz office where we have 3 computers and a broadband connection to ensure smooth workflow and direct supervision.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
Started in 2008, Youth Ki Awaaz is India’s largest online platform for young people to express themselves on issues of importance, with over 1.5 million readers a month. We’ve had over 20,000 people contribute to the platform, and another 2000 who continue to actively engage as contributors. We are striving to transform the media landscape through stories, ideas and opinions contributed by young people, making best use of online journalism, social & new media tools. Youth Ki Awaaz also acts as a central hub for various non-profit and social good organizations to engage with young people on various issues through strategically run campaigns. This has positioned us as the most appropriate organization to implement this project, being well established, credible and innovative in our approach.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
India’s IT Act is extremely fragile and at times, draconian. It allows anyone to file a complaint against anything they find offensive on the internet. Recently, an 18 year old had to bear the brunt of this act for speaking up against forceful shutting down of her city by a political party. As social media grows faster there is a chance of restraints on this platform by governments and political parties. We see this as the biggest external obstacle. However, YKA focuses on a highly fact based and balanced coverage and is already engaging with policy makers to advocate for changes in the act to safeguard citizens’ right to freedom of expression. If in future we are challenged, we can present data to back our reportage; and if further threatened, we have access to the courts for justice.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
The success of the internship program will be determined based on three indicators:
1) Focus of the content: Based on the quality and exclusivity of the issue raised and its direct or indirect implication on the community it affects.
2) Acceptability and sociability of the stories: Based on the number of views, opinions shared and social virality of the story, the measure of its acceptability with our community will be judged.
3) Response towards call-to-action: Based on the reaction towards the call-to-action in the stories – from sharing the story and signing pledges, to calling up decision-makers demanding action.
4) Growth in participation: Based on the growth in applications for the program, batch by batch.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
Phase 1: (June, 2014; Week 1 through Week 2) Finalizing curriculum, opening of the internship applications and selection of interns. Orientation and introduction to the first assignment of the interns.
Phase 2: (June 2014, Week 3 through Week 4) Introduction to video blogging, and assigning second level of assignments with more nuanced focus on issues and writing and production of video blogs. 1st and 2nd video lesson by external trainer, renowned journalist/subject matter expert.
Phase 3: (July 2014, Week 5 through Week 6) Feedback sessions for video blogs. Assigning final video blogs. Assigning third level of assignments with tougher guidelines and focus on traditionally ignored issues. 3rd and 4th video lesson by external trainer.
Phase 4: (July 2014, Week 7 through Week 8) Assigning independent projects, video blogs. Organizing final feedback sessions and final expert training.
This process will be carried out for 2 more batches until December 2014
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
1. Honorarium for 4 expert trainers – $600
2. Cost of broadband connection: $115
3. Coordinator costs (25% of monthly salary): $800
4. Web-conference set up cost for 30 trainees and trainer: $500
5. Cost for promotions – $400
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Support for curriculum development
Support for expert trainer recommendations
Support for content partnerships and tie-ups
Youth Ki Awaaz