Updated: Jul 29, 2022
In this post, Sukriti Pant, the editor-in-chief of Via News Didi, an online news platform aimed at encouraging media literacy and countering misinformation for children, offers an explainer on how the platform came about and its aims.
My name is Sukriti Pant, and I’m the editor-in-chief of Via News Didi. We’re a digital media
platform that focusses on getting solutions-based news to kids across India. We believe that
children have the potential to change the world around them, and inspire others in the
process. When Via News Didi was first started in 2020, it was done with the conviction that
if students were provided the news in a fun, easy to read and comprehend format, it would
pique their interest and they would begin to actively engage with it. At this initial phase, it
was also run primarily by educators who understood how to simplify and customize the news
to students’ needs. All of that changed when we brought our first student contributor on
board. The perspectives that they brought in, whether it was on the topics they suggested, the
experiences they shared, or even the ideas they had on including more student voices in the
newsletter, highlighted to us the near-crucial gap that we were gradually bridging – that of the
role that students could play in this initiative. Since then, we’ve done diverse newsletters on
caste, national parks, the space race, dissent, online hate, art for social change, climate
change, women in cinema, and even special editions on issues other than news, like editions
on Teachers’ Day, World Bee Day, Children’s Day, and special editions that we produced in
collaboration with Mudita Foundation and Slam Out Loud.
Armed with the belief that it wasn’t just enough to present students with the news in a
dynamic new way, we chanced upon solutions journalism, which involves presenting the
news not just in terms of problems, but also as solutions to these problems, and evaluate these
problems objectively as well. By presenting the news through a solutions focus, we were able
to provide more stories of change to any problem that we found in the news, thereby
providing more instances of and inspiration for change. However, we soon began to feel that
it wasn’t enough that we presented the news in this manner, since irrespective of our efforts,
children all over the world were still exposed to news that wasn’t so ideal, so carefully
crafted, so solutions focused. Rather, it was information that could mislead, misinform, or
cause harm, sometimes even deliberately. In such a situation, it becomes essential that
children are taught to navigate this news overload around them, in order to be able to gauge
for themselves what is right or wrong, what is accurate and what is inaccurate, and what is
well-informed and what is misinformed. Hence, we created a Media Literacy Program for
students to navigate the news, identify their biases, and be able to synthesize what they learn
for their classmates at school!
While it was our understanding that we were providing students with the skills to become
more media literate, and the successful completion of the program would help them achieve
mastery over these skills, it was the students’ perception of these sessions, their
extrapolations of what they learnt, the News Desks that they set up in their schools that
helped take the program forward. When we invited journalists to speak with the participants,
the kinds of insightful questions that students asked helped us realise the impact that this
program can have on students across the country, and the sheer lack of resources to help
students understand the news that they invariably consume on a daily basis.
Recently, we opened our very first round of Student Internships at Via News Didi. Over the
four week internship period, students that intern with us have the opportunity to write for the
newsletter, design for social media, or record for the podcast. They even get to create their
very own special edition from scratch, playing researcher, writer, designer, and editor! These
9 interns are from different parts of the country, studying in different school systems, hailing
from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and the kinds of diverse experiences, interests and expertise that they bring to our work have added so much more
value to the work that we already do. As we near our 100th newsletter, we hope to inspire
many more children to become agents of change, and to look at the news with a critical eye!
Sukriti Pant graduated from Azim Premji University with a Masters in Education. She is deeply interested in issues concerning educational equity, safety of children in schools and equipping students to become conscious citizens.
Currently, she is the Director of Programs at Via News Didi, an initiative that aims to empower students with Media Literacy skills to critically analyse information and become responsible consumers and creators of media, with a focus on solutions, inspiring ideas and people fixing problems!
Website – www.vianewsdidi.com
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/newsdidi/
Email ID – email@example.com