Khabar Lahariya, Bundeli for ‘News Waves’, an eight page weekly newspaper, began as the only Bundeli newspaper in India and now has editions in Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Hindustani and Bajjika. These local languages are not commonly seen in their written form, they are mostly only spoken. Khabar Lahariya aims to promote this diversity and use it to reach rural audiences who rarely ever see or read any content in their local language, the language they use on a daily basis.
The newspaper was conceptualised by Nirantar – a Centre for Gender and Education in 2002. The idea was born out of a literacy intervention designed by Nirantar. Women who were learners in this programme had expressed their wish to continue writing thus using their newly acquired skills. What started as a single broadsheet written by hand grew owing to public demand and the willingness of these women to bridge the information gap created by the absence of mainstream media in remote villages. The single broadsheet soon became a four-page monthly newspaper, and gradually an eight-page weekly.
The first edition was launched in May of 2002 from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh with a team of six reporters. Today, it is brought out by a collective of rural women journalists with over 40 members where most reporters come from marginalized communities. The current print run is 6000 copies with a readership of 80,000 across 600 villages of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar per week. This collective of women reports, writes, edits, designs, takes photographs and illustrates for the paper and then doubles up as distributors at the end of the week. KL covers a range of issues relevant to the local context.