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A Flipcam Powered News Agency, Telling The Untold Stories

Video Volunteers

Traditionally it took the resources of a news organization to get a story out, today the smartphone has changed all that.  Any one of us can use video or pictures to report on any live story and publish it out to the world through social media. There are however still people out there with no access to a smartphone or the internet and have a story to tell, Video Volunteers enables these people to get their story out.

When Video Volunteers Community Correspondent Mukesh Rajak witnessed gross medical negligence resulting in a stillborn child, he quickly put his media experience to work. Using his laptop and a screening kit from the Video Volunteers Jharkhand office in India, he set out to share this story and motivate the community to take action. Over a thousand people watched Mukesh’s videos and were inspired to take action against the poor state of local health care. They actively followed up with Mukesh and created public awareness which resulted in large public demonstrations against the local government last month.

This is just one of many examples where Video Volunteers is making a big difference in marginalised communities of India through the power of community journalism. They train people from the slums, villages and tribal areas to produce high quality video content that brings awareness to communities and empowers them to take action. In the past year alone, they’ve had 73 impacts– where the issues that were brought to light by the videos have been resolved. Some of the video reports are heartbreaking and will inspire you to do something, their stories span everything from corruption, acid attacks on women, child rights, medical negligence to domestic violence.

Video Volunteers is a new kind of international news agency powered by a network of grassroot reporters equipped with video journalism skills, exposing underreported stories from their communities and taking action to right the wrongs. Flipcams, Youtube, social networks are their tools of trade in their fight to do good.

In rich countries, the Flip camera was a short-lived fad along the road to shooting video on phones. But in India it lives on as a lifeline for ordinary people trying to get things done. – Intelligent Life Magazine

Since 2003, Video Volunteers has been creating programs and projects that empower poor and marginalized communities. Their IndiaUnheard program is the first ever community news channel, powered by their network of community correspondents.

Video Volunteers also works with a number of other media agencies for content distribution. They have recently partnered with Oximity, the global user-powered, multi-lingual news platform. Their content is regularly featured in mainstream media like The Huffington Post, Global Voices, The Alternative, Halabol, Tehelka and Youth Ki Awaaz. CNN-IBN and Headlines Today’s broadcast channels carried their videos on their ‘Citizen Journalism Show’ and ‘Right to be Heard’, broadcast two evenings a week, and occasionally run them in the daily news shows. Their work has also been covered in Intelligent Life, National Public Radio, AFP, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Times of India and Hindustan Times, among others.

Video Volunteers is always looking for wider distribution and new platforms, this year is already off to a great start with an ever increasing audience for their videos.

​There are many challenges and opportunities to bringing community content online. We are figuring out how can we make local videos more appealing globally. – Founder Jessica Mayberry

It is not about creating sensationalist journalism, it is about creating reportage that empowers. They feel that along with their Community Correspondents, they are carrying out a social revolution of sorts. Seemingly intractable issues can be resolved, and perspectives can be changed, by letting communities advocate for themselves. There are three ways that local videos get tied into making a larger impact: through screenings with government officials, Video Volunteers advocacy campaigns, and through their online community. Going forward, they are looking for ways to develop more of an online presence.

Video Volunteers is part of the Youtube Nonprofit program and when watching their videos on Youtube you can donate to their cause with a single click of the “Donate” button powered by Google Wallet.

Do you want to help with the medical negligence case we shared above? Sign the petition here on change.org

To keep up with the Video Volunteers work, follow them on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to volunteer, see here.

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    Becky Band Jain
    Becky is a communications specialist and digital storyteller who works with international organizations like the United Nations and Video Volunteers.

    Image Credit / Description: 'Speak Out India' premiere on the NewX