Sunday, 6 December 2009

[creative-radio] The Value of News: A Lesson from Nepalese community radio


The Value of News: A Lesson from Nepalese community radio


"...Som Nath Aryal is a radio journalist in Madanpokhara, in Nepal's Palpa
districtl. He has built Radio Madanpokhara, a station that serves 37 rural
communities. Here's how it works, and why it strikes me as so powerful.

Som Nath travels constantly from village to village in his region. At
first, he was pitching the idea of a community radio station, a source for
non-commercial news, entertainment, public-service information tailored to
the area. Soon, his sell evolved: This station, he told villagers, is
yours. Communities were encouraged to elect representatives who would
serve as their radio reporters, accountable to their local development
committees. Later, Som Nath recruited "radio sanghi samuha," youth
listener clubs that formed the foundation of Radio Madanpokhara's social
network: They acted as Som Nath's eyes and ears, collecting news, scouting
out wrongdoing, doing what amounts to education outreach, and, not least,
raising money.

Which they do. Most farming families contribute a handful of rice a year
to the radio station; forest dwellers contribute bundles of tree branches.
Som Nath also sells cassettes of certain programs and hawks badges,
stickers, and t-shirts.

Why is this working? Because Radio Madanpokhara is, in fact, creating
value for its listeners."This is possible only when community people
consider the radio as a part of their life," Som Nath writes. "People
support the community radio because … it speaks the speeches of porters
carrying heavy loads on their back, the sorrows and miseries of women and
the farmers who play in dust or clay everyday. The community radio speaks
the stories of cobblers sewing shoes and tailors stitching textiles and
iron mongers in the hearth. There is always a deep understanding between
the radio and the community. Every programme focuses on local issues.
Thus, if the community radio speaks for people, why they not support

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