The Rural Visual Journalism Network (RVJN) project in Bangladesh is designed to address both professional and citizen journalist training. It works to prepare those reporting for specific issues faced by the media - such as governance, gender, human rights, and the environment - and to give voice to rural citizens of Bangladesh. Over the five years of the project (2011-2015), the objective is to develop a network of professional photographers, non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers, and citizen journalists trained to produce multimedia (photography, video, and text) stories covering all 64 districts of the country. RVJN is a component of the Press Freedom 2.0 programme and is an initiative of Drik News, supported by World Press Photo.
The project is premised on the following: the use of quality visual media in Bangladesh, where literacy rates are low, can be an effective tool as an alternative education. The strategy is to train and build a network of district correspondents to use Apple i-Pod Touch technology to produce multimedia stories from rural Bangladesh. The aim of producing these multimedia stories from the districts is bring to the fore issues on governance, human rights, and other related issues that normally won’t surface in the news and also to provide a sustainable revenue generating system that provides employment for the journalists.
The training course for network members is an intensive multimedia workshop. The course includes: an introduction to the iPod Touch, the main device for producing and editing the multimedia visuals; basic video skills; and basic audio skills, combined with journalism and news reporting techniques. The stories are distributed by Drik News and the Banglarights websites.
The project activities are carried out in 25 districts as of the end of 2012 and the full 64 districts by the end 2013. The programme takes into account factors such as: high illiteracy rates; the fact that rural communities in Bangladesh have less access to information sources; and the rise of penetration of radio, mobile phone usage, and television. The disadvantaged representation of women and children in the media sector and the limited press freedom in the country remain a matter of concern to be addressed through the project and are focus areas in the programme of Press Freedom 2.0.
RVJN won the Manthan Award in the enews and media category earlier this month. The Manthan Award is an initiative in India to recognise the best practices to promote digital content creativity in South Asian and Asia Pacific nation states for development. There were 33 winners in 16 categories, selected from 470 entries submitted by organisations in 36 countries.
Click here for access to a page of videos that include visual stories by journalists trained through the project.
World Press Photo
Emails from Shahidul Alam and Chulie de Silva to The Communication Initiative on December 17, 26, and 29 2012.