Wouldn’t realize how the 12 years have just passed by, my journey of Afternoon Voice is still fresh in my memory. This story started with a rebellious attempt. There was a publication house, where I was resumed as a city reporter. All the reporters were made to oblige the owner whenever his business came in trouble, or they wanted some political favors, most of the time the reporters used to do liaising work for the publication owners.
This is not new in the media industry when a business group owns a publication or a political mafia becomes the owner of the newspaper, the aim of the daily is to satisfy their own concerns, but not to speak for the general public. That is the reason one day I resigned from the job and said no to the hierarchy. We the bunch of rebels came together and started this newspaper by not surrendering to the outrages. When we refused to mortgage our intellect like any other bonded labor of a media house. We were threatened by not getting opportunities ahead. we planned to come up with our own publication, with the support of family members, I mortgaged my house for initial funds and later on many came forward to support us.
That is how “Afternoon Voice” was born; this is its 12th anniversary.
Today that publication with the same name Afternoon been dispatched to an unknown address and they left the business and now we are the one and only “Afternoon” in the market. In these 12 years of competition finally, that afternoon succumbed to various challenges.
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 the fact. We have many questions in mind 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 and clear.
Being parallel or neutral is a curse these days because nobody likes you. If you criticize Congress you are labeled as a BJP supporter. If you ask questions to BJP, they think you are anti-BJP. If you ask questions from AAP, they think you’re the pawns of national parties. If you praise Arvind Kejriwal then it is translated, as you are an AAPTARD. If you speak of Raj they will say you are anti-Uddhav, and if you question Uddhav they say you favor Pawar. In these times, when the media is labeled as Presstitutes, sold outs, and much more, we hold ourselves without falling into those types of adjectives, keeping our unbiased writing.
A small newspaper, a small team, thousands of readers and manifold audience, 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 if your leader or party is questioned you don’t like them. You want to listen to the truth that is suitable for you. And if the journalism is kept on those parameters then reporting gets mortgaged. These days all are critic’s media, but when the truth is served, they don’t want to digest because their truth is different from our truth. We can’t be the voice for everyone but the common people. We can’t walk with someone because we have to walk parallel to you to illustrate. Now some may ask us “who are you?” My answer would be “Someone who lives journalism”.
We are a small part of the big media community. You are free to make your choices. We’re small and we can’t reach everywhere but wherever we reach our voice is loud and clear. We know that we’re going to contribute towards the new India. We know we follow our prime minister, be it digital India, and be it Beti Bachao. But we don’t project him falsely, we exactly let readers know what is his agendas could be. We tell our leaders about the happenings without adding our narrations or gossips. We don’t believe in sensationalizing the news and gain publicity. We want plane reporting, that may not amuse you but that will stand its grounds.
Now you must be thinking, without any support how we are running this publication house? 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 house. We also do an annual award event “Newsmakers Achievers Awards” that generates funds to breathe with this venture. My team is of some handicapped youth, (divyang brothers and sisters), some acid attack victims, some college dropouts, and some professional volunteers. We empowered many acid attack victims.
We struggled a lot in all these 12 years.
I remember when Shivanand Sir, ex-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 labor act”. Because we all were very young, small in sizes and in fact half of the team members were early college dropouts. We changed the monotone’s custom of the senior citizens sitting on the desk and writing it issues and lines with the same perception. Even today the senior-most team member on the desk in my team who is the sub-editor is 23 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 for the gap.
I would request everyone that if you like us, do visit our online edition and keep reading us. Buy our print and give us a chance to sever 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 media, or bring change to at least one person.
How can I forget to thanks those who stood by us since its inception, Late Shree Baliran Gaikwad Ji, late Bhayyu Ji Maharaj, Dr Vishesh Naik, Advocate Rohini Salian, Padma Shree Shoma Ghosh, Padma Shree Kanan Rele, Mr Anilkumar, Mrs Vaishali Muley, and the list is very long, all my company directors, staff and team, and most importantly my readers.
Big thank you once again.