These are troubled times for journalism. Veteran journalists are wondering whether the fabric of the once proud profession is slowly coming unravelled by the relentless pull of populism, politics and profits on its fraying seams. Official versions of stories have made journalistic practice veer closely to the role of publicists and public relations. Journalism schools teach their students that negative events make newsworthy stories. A train accident or a plane crash, lightning striking people, mindless terrorist attacks, floods and epidemics are all grist to the journalistic mill.
Amidst this mileu, I am happy to see my friend Vinoj Kumar treading an untrodden path by launching The Weekend Leader, a portal devoted to positive journalism. Unlike the popular media full of negative stories, and criticism treated as an end in itself, which is destructive, The Weekend Leader concentrates exclusively on positive stories. Positive journalism is journalism of hope.. Its stories are about something surprising, something we did not already know that will either affect the readers directly, or in the case of human interest stories, inspire their empathy or interest.
We are living in a society facing multiple crises-- cultural, ecological, economic and political. If the existing systems and structures of power continue on their present trajectory, a permanent decline is inevitable. The world we live in is profoundly unjust in the distribution of wealth and power, and fundamentally unsustainable in our use of the ecological resources of the planet. The task of journalism is to deepen our understanding of these challenges and communicate that understanding to the public to foster a meaningful dialogue necessary for real democracy and growth.
As the newspaper industry faces a failed business model and struggles for solutions, there are great opportunities to reshape journalism to serve people and the planet, following the traditions of the spirited independent journalists of the past. The Weekend Leader offers an exciting opportunity to young journalists to break new grounds in which justice and sustainability define not just our dreams but our lives.
On this occasion of the inauguration of The Weekend Leader, it is worth recalling what our former President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, has written in his book, Spirit of India: Reflecting the concerns, aspirations and dreams of the Indian Youth: “A borderless society with no divisions of caste and community can only arise from borderless minds. It has taken centuries for our society to evolve into the present structure of caste and community. Love, patience, good laws and fair justice are the best instruments of our society to transform itself into a borderless community where hands that serve are better than lips that pray. If the 540 million youth work with the spirit 'I can do it, we can do it and India can do it,' nothing can stop India from becoming a developed country.”
The innovation by Uttam Banerjee is a godsend to the country that needs to go in for water conservation in a big way. Fitting Zerodor, a polymeric wall, to ceramic urinals would save 50,000 to 1,51,000 litres of water, says Narendra Kaushik
In the US, Rikin Gandhi aspired to be an astronaut but landed in the pastoral fields of India to develop Digital Green, an initiative that helps farmers. He now feels “people can choose agriculture and be prosperous.” Partho Burman reports
In a government school in Tamil Nadu, students are not just taught but trained to be achievers. Like a potter churning vessels from clay, the headmaster M Karunanithi shapes children from poor homes for big things. P C Vinoj Kumar checks out
The Roti Bank, started by Tara Patkar and few others, has brought down begging in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. Narendra Kaushik tells us the story of the journalist-turned social activist who is changing the lives of the local people
Do you know Jitendra and Bipin Chauhan? Well, you will if we introduce them as the Prime Minister’s personal tailors. The brothers, however, came up the hard way after their father suddenly took to sanyas. P C Vinoj Kumar has their life story
Preserving a dying tradition of story-telling in this digital age, Deepa Kiran enthralls people, mainly school children, with her multiple skills. S Sainath profiles the woman from Hyderabad who can explain the power of 2 using a chessboard
A school teacher from Rajasthan was toasted by the Prime Minister at the Wembley Stadium during his UK visit. Partho Burman has the story of the self-taught Imran Khan who has developed 54 education apps, besides some websites, all for free
A matchstick factory sacked him when he joined the communist party and fought for employee rights, but VKC Mammed Koya, a class seven dropout went on to build a footwear brand that’s now making Rs 1500 crore turnover, says Renitha Raveendran
In the family that names children after freedom fighters, it was natural that he was called Gangadhara Tilak. But he continued the tradition of being a do-gooder, filling up potholes on roads, spending his own money and time, says S Sainath
Boatman Sheikh Lalchand of Kulia village in Howrah district has singlehandedly built a bamboo bridge across River Mudeswari, connecting people of three panchayats with the mainland. And the bridge has been rightly named after him, says G Singh