London, March 21:
Indian journalist-activist Shubhranshu Choudhary, who founded a hyper local mobile news platform in Chhattisgarh state, has been honoured with the prestigious Digital Activism Award at this year’s edition of Freedom of Expression Awards in Barbican Centre in London.
Choudhary, who was nominated in the digital awards category, emerged as a clear winner in a public vote surpassing heavyweights like US whistleblower Edward Snowden and China’s Free Weibo, an uncensored version of China’s biggest social network, SinaWeibo.
The award, organised by London-based international organisation Index on Censorship, recognises the bravest journalists, artists and activists from around the world in four diverse categories, the organisation’s website said .
“To create a democratic, more equitable media, we are using mobile phone in this experiment,” Choudhary said in his acceptance remarks Thursday that have been posted on Index on Censorship’s website.
A Knight International Journalism fellow, Choudhary is the brain behind CGNet Swara(Voice of Chhattisgarh) which is a voice-based portal freely accessible via mobile phone.
It allows any one to report and listen to stories of local interest in the local dialect, which is Ghondi in this case.
He said that CGNet Swara helped tribals report their local affairs often ignored by mainstream media.
He said the platform would be a different type of radio, a kind of new radio.
Chaudhary claimed that through CGNet Swara, citizens can also record their own messages for others to hear.
“We need to democratise journalism, to allow for a journalism of concern, so that ordinary people can tell their own stories and enrich democracy further. If we want a better future, we cannot afford to leave communication in the hands of a few people,” he added.
“In this democratic radio, programmes will not be created in studios or newsrooms but they will be created in far off forests and villages where people through their mobile phone will report,” he stated in his acceptance remarks.”
Among the other categories of arts and advocacy, a young female Egyptian Rapper and Pakistani internet freedom fighter won respectively.
Choudhary had previously been associated with British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC) as South Asia producer for more than 10 years.
He had also served as a media trainer for the BBC World Service Trust, the UN and Indian universities.
CGNet Swara was launched as part of the Knight International Journalism Fellowships, a programme of the International Centre for Journalists.