It was 2009 when we started, 13 years have just sailed, and my journey of Afternoon Voice is still fresh in my memory. This story started with a rebellious attempt of quitting one newspaper saying no to the hierarchy and all of sudden starting its publication. That is how “Afternoon Voice” was born, and this is its 13th anniversary.
We don’t follow any philosophy, we don’t hate or love political entities, we don’t have complaints from anyone, we’re not the slaves or supporters of any political groups, we don’t envy anyone. Our sole agenda is journalism. And we love to speak our minds. We have many questions and we try to find the answers too. We want to speak because the common people whom we represent can’t speak for themselves. We have to speak for them to reach their voices in the corridors of power. Now in this struggle, if we love or envy someone, we wouldn’t be able to make our voices loud, clear and audible.
Being parallel or neutral is an annoyance these days because nobody sides with you. If you criticize Congress you are labelled as a BJP supporter. If you ask questions to BJP, they declare you as anti-BJP. If you ask questions to AAP, they think you’re the pawns of national parties. If you praise Arvind Kejriwal, you become an AAPTARD. If you speak of Raj, they will say you are anti-Uddhav, and if you question Uddhav they say you favour Pawar. It is not their fault; the problem is that the media is divided into ideology or favouritism. Either hardcore leftists or right-wing supporters but impartial journalism is rare in the present time.
These days, media is categorized as Presstitutes, sold outs, Lutyens, boot lickers, lap dogs and much more. Fortunately, these adjectives are not applicable to us because we don’t bend at any side. Mainstream Media houses know no boundaries. Either they are the haters or supporters. Thankfully newspapers are still doing better than electronic media.
Ours is a small newspaper, a small team, thousands of readers and multiple audiences, hundreds of calls every day, some praises, some complaints, some calls go missing, some get attended, but we try to listen to everyone and do justice to what they say. There are many decisions taken every moment because the newspaper runs on deadlines. Sometimes decisions go wrong, sometimes we even make mistakes but trust me no slip-up of ours is ever that big that can’t be pardoned.
Everyone wants honest journalism but most of them don’t know how the narrative of honest journalism has changed. You want to listen to the truth but that truth should be pleasing or favourable. And if the journalism comes to terms with those parameters, then coverage gets mortgaged. These days everyone attacks the media, but when the truth is served, they don’t want to digest it because their truth is different from the truth itself.
Well, we chose to be the voice of the common man. We don’t walk with powers or celebrities because we have to walk parallel to illustrate. Now some may ask us “who are you?” My answer would be “Someone who lives journalism”. We are the Fourth Estate fighting odds of all sides.
We are a small part of the big media community. We don’t have a big reach but wherever we reach our voice is loud and clear. We know that we’re going to contribute towards the new India. We tell our readers about the happenings without adding our narrations or gossip. We don’t believe in sensationalizing the news and gaining publicity. We want plain reporting, that may not amuse readers but that will stand its grounds.
Now you must be thinking, without any support how are we running this publication house? Well! We get government advertisements being one of the registered newspapers, we get a lot of classifieds, we do product campaigns and there are many articles on various business groups and their new ventures, those adverts are mostly paid. Above all we have parallel modules, such as I have my clinic, I do cybersecurity audits, all my directors slog in their respective fields and some of the income we contribute for the sustenance of media houses. We also do an annual award event “Newsmakers Achievers’ Awards” that generates funds to breathe. My team comprises some handicapped youth, (divyang brothers and sisters), some acid attack victims, some college dropouts, orphans and some professional volunteers. We empowered many acid attack victims and LGBT community members. We gave assignments to HIV positive people who are dejected by the masses. We want to remain human while talking for the people.
See, how 13 years just passed. I remember when D Shivanand, Former-commissioner of Mumbai police, came to inaugurate my newspaper he cracked a joke stating, “Vaidehi, I should get you and your team arrested under the child labour act”. Because we all were very young, small in size and in fact half of the team members were early college dropouts. We changed the monotonous practices of the media by letting a young team sit on a news desk and lead it.
Even today the senior-most team member on the desk is 25 years old. The team member who manages all the administration is also 27 years old. My team is very young and very small in numbers but big in visions. And perhaps this is the reason we are different from others. We don’t have a very large readership, as we can’t print in large numbers. But we do have our online edition to compensate.
I would request everyone that if you like us, do visit our online edition and keep reading us. Give us a chance to serve honest journalism. Your suggestions are always welcome. And when I said that we’re the voice of the common people then, together we all can change the scenario of the media or bring some change.