Trivandrum, May 15, 2013
Amrita TV's journalism based programme Ente Vartha, that introduced the novel new concept of Citizen Journalism not just to Malayalam television but to the entire Kerala media scene, has just completed 200 episodes of riveting reports and given away Rs 25 million as aid to the destitute in two years. The show that underlined the news sense, reporting skills and moral responsibilities of a group of ordinary citizens who filed raw, unalloyed information on a rainbow spectrum of issues, problems and controversies across the State , is telecast on Amrita TV every Sunday at 10.30 pm.
Citizen Journalists are members of the general public employed in diverse professions who, impelled by ethical fervor report on instances of corruption, injustice or wrongdoing in their immediate neighbourhood. They possess an insatiable curiosity, a determination to follow leads, in fact have all the qualities of an ideal newshound, but are not members of the Fourth Estate estate nor have any grounding in professional journalism. Ente Vartha has created around 400 Citizens journalists in every nook and corner of Kerala, who have contributed more than 600 breaking news, front page accounts. They ferret out topical news that have not been caught in the searchlight of the mainstream media and bring it to the attention of the public and the notice of the officialdom.
Two years ago, Ente Vartha upgraded its status, changing its role from reporting news to a redressal of grievances. The topical stories documented by the untrained pressmen threw up countless cases of patients in dire medical emergencies, students whose studies were stalled, children rendered homeless by sudden tragedies, all of which called for urgent financial assistance. Touched by the graphic accounts aired in Ente Vartha episodes, donations poured in generously from all quarters, as viewers dug deep into their pockets to help out fellow citizens.
Six- year old Bangalore resident Nerbanu was born a deaf mute. When her parents found that the congenital condition could be corrected with a cochlear implant, they were overjoyed but the jubilation quickly evaporated when the doctors totaled up the bill for the surgery- it came up to Rs 8 lakhs, an amount too big for their slender purse. In the end they approached Ente Vartha with their predicament. The benevolence of Ente Vartha's viewers re-wrote the script of her life, as today Nerbanu can speak and hear effortlessly.
Anoop from Pathanpuram was pillion riding on a friend's bike on the way to a wedding when it crashed into a truck. Completely paralysed, he was bedridden for 2 years. Constantly praying for death's ‘release' from his condition, he finally decided to write to Ente Vartha for monetary assistance. It came spontaneously and profusely. Now thanks to better medical treatment, he is back on his legs.
As Ente Vartha steps up from passive coverage into pro-active mode, the show has acquired muscle, transforming from a show that chronicled incidents to one that can disburse aid and ensure remedial action. But long before it had acquired this new dimension, Ente Vartha -‘My News' of a bunch of amateur scribes reporting provincial stories from their neck of woods , had been taken to heart by the viewing public of Kerala as ‘Our News'.
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