Archana Kumari |
Why poverty and problems in rural area do not make news for the urban population? It can if presented professionally with rich social content, it can make itself relevant for urban audience and they can relate themselves to rural India. The media division into Urban and rural is a creation of corporate controlled media but if people’s participation is ensured, it can initiate a meaningful interaction that can help in bridging the gap. It cannot be argued that urban and rural populations are not interested to know and understand each other. It can rationally be presume that urban and rural audiences want to see entire political, social, economic and cultural pictures of the entire country and not a fractured image. –Editor’s Note
One very important facet of development reporting is rural reporting. As Gandhijee said that soul of India lives in the villages, today also 60 percent of Indian population is either rural or semi-urban. They directly or indirectly depend upon agriculture.
It is an irony that India’s villages are not getting adequate coverage in newspapers. There could be one reason that the poverty and problems in rural area do not make news for the urban population. One of the main reasons for this negligence can be that most of the newspapers of India are city based and their readers are also in cities. Especially the English dailies are urban centered and they rarely publish rural development news.
But the local newspapers or vernacular newspapers do pay attention to the rural issues because a large number of readers of such newspapers are either from villages or semi-urban areas.
It is only poverty, flood and other natural calamities in rural areas which get space on the front page. But there are many other stories which need to be brought into limelight like poor civic amenities, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of any support for agriculture and other employment, poor education facilities, electricity, water supply and every basic need of the people in rural areas. Lack of such facilities in rural areas actually retards the pace of growth in our country.
So the job of rural reporter is far more than just reporting. It is a very sensible, responsible and careful job for a rural reporter. He should not only search for the stories but should also be able to handle them intelligently. He should be able to recognize the problems but also present it in such a way that everyone would like to read it and authorities are compelled to take any action. A rural reporter should be passionate enough to raise the issues and struggle for them. He should be brave, fearless and committed.
His writing should appeal to the readers with its substance, depth and style. He should compare the conditions of rural areas to the urban areas, so that people can ponder upon the disparity. To show the poverty in rural areas, he does not need to present the numbers and figures. He can do this by simply reporting the number of meals consumed by a person in rural areas, the nutrition level in it and comparing it with urban the meal of a urban person.
How to cover a rural story
Writing style – Poor writing style devours your story and it happens with many rural reports. In spite of being good stories, the poor writing style actually marginalize the reports. A rural reporter needs to present his copy in simple clear language and inverted pyramid form. He needs to simplify the complex issues in order to make it more reader friendly. He must present the story with clarity and balanced views. The quality of writing is the strength of the reporter. The simple formula for writing a good copy is applicable here also – short, simple, clear and correct. Don’t use flowery and ornamental language and express the story without any bias.
Geographical knowledge – Know your area very well. It is very important for a rural reporter to know the geographical area of his assigned village or district. Not only that, he should be well acquainted with the culture and dialect of that particular area. It will help him in investigating good stories and make good sources.
You may be filing your report from any remote area about which your readers may not know. So always give its exact geographical location in your story so that the common readers can relate themselves with the story and many of them would be interested in reading it. Many times reporters file their story about any village or district without identifying where it is. He should not only give the location of the place, but also try to give its background, which will make his story more interesting. Now-a-days a very good system of indicating a particular area in the map has been followed by the newspapers, which is very nice way of actually demonstrating where is it situated.
- Inquisition and investigation – There can not be a sudden problem. A good reporter goes to the roots of the problems. A superficial report wouldn’t serve the purpose of rural reporting. So always try to investigate the root cause of any sudden disease or agricultural problems or frequent disasters. Do not hesitate in asking questions. Keep asking until you get a satisfactory answer. Try to take everyone’s point of view. You may find something very important.
- Develop contacts – Like any other beat reporting, rural reporting also requires reliable sources. You need to make good contacts in every department of your area and also need to nurture them. Your sources at local hospital can give you information about health hazards due to unhygienic conditions there. Sources at agricultural society can provide you much information about problems and solutions in agriculture field. Except these sources, there are many NGOs working in rural areas, cooperatives, self help groups, government organisations, which can be very good sources of informations. So a good reporter should always maintain good contacts with these sources.
- Beware of the biases – A rural reporter should always present a clean copy without any prejudices and biases. An anti-town or urban bias is generally visible in rural reporters. Also sometimes he does not keep himself detach from the issue while reporting which is good if it is on mental level, but it should not be reflected in his copy.
- Angle to the story – It is seen that if the rural reports are presented with humanitarian angle, it has attracted the attention of the people and authorities. So, by emphasizing on the humane element instead of facts and figures, about flood, drought or deforestation, the report can earn more attention. The sorrow of farmers came into limelight only when they started committing suicide. The poverty of Kalahandi flashed only when people started selling their kids. It is very inhumane and that’s why getting space in news.
Also do not miss the political angles in rural reporting. Many times, many decisions are politically influenced, which cannot be neglected. So always consider the political aspect of the story. It would provide a depth to the rural reporting. Similarly, gender issues, the problems of children and elderly people can also be considered as an angle to the story.
- ‘Dimensions of Modern Journalism’ by N. C. Pant and Jitender Kumar.
- ‘The Reporter’ by Arindam Basu and Sujoy Dhar.
Dr. Archana Kumari, an alumni of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, is working as Assistant Professor at Central University of Jammu. She has been on the faculty of IIMC, Central University of Kashmir and Central university of Bihar.