Our show is special, and I don't say that because I work on it, but because it is, in true sense, a show that belongs to all of us. You the viewer, us the team, and all those who choose to pick up the CJ mike. You become the Citizen Journalist the moment you decide to do something more than crib. A garbage dump near your house, a file that doesn't move, bad roads, encroachment... anything that bothers you enough to stop complaining and to do something, can be your story.
I, in my 5 years of being on the CJ show, have seen sweaty palmed, first-time-in-front-of-camera, every day men and women, transform into fiery journalists. I have seen them counter question authority, seen them march into offices, police stations with rolling cameras, thrust the mike in front of those accountable. And I have known that their passion comes from the truth that they are fighting for.
Listen, we all fumbled. Even the best anchors started with fumbles, so it is bound to happen! Our CJs fumble too, and it's become a reporters reflex to say "its ok, never mind... you doing good!" And let me tell you it isn't easy talking to the camera lens...and perhaps the most difficult part for a reporter is to make a CJ understand why things have to be done again and again. If you are going to be a Citizen Journalist remember you might have to walk, get up from a chair, type a letter multiple times...for close ups, long shots...the whole deal. But our reporters make the effort to bring to the show a comprehensive story, complete with emotions, the effort and the authority response.
I started out as a reporter on the CJ show. My first CJ was a mother of two teenage girls, working and running a household. I don't think Sudha had ever used a handycam before... and for me too it was a first time experience to be shooting what turned out to be 'a one on one' with a cop. We had been tipped off that cops come into the local mandi and harass the vendors for bribe. We were in the mandi that evening, me, Sudha and our video journalist. We wanted to catch the cops red handed, the big camera was in the bag. I was holding the handycam inconspicuously and Sudha had the mike hidden under her saari palla. 20 min later we heard a cop bike zoom in and stop by some vegetable thelas. I turned around to signal my cameraperson to get the camera out...by then Sudha had already reached the cop. I ran with my handycam rolling and what I saw, I'll try to put in words.
There was vegetable strewn on the ground, courtesy the cop, who had thrown it to establish authority. Vendors stood around, scared and confused and Sudha stood there, right in front of the cop's bike, holding the CJ mike right at his face. There she stood telling the cop, looking right into his eyes: "aaj jaane nahi denge aapko! The cop was looking around for an escape route, but there was none. The camera light stared at him and the handycam blinked in my hand, and Sudha wanted answers. How this sweet, polite, saari clad mum, transformed into a fiery super woman sans a whip, one had on the hip... I can't really say! But this is a constant. And perhaps it's because these are your stories, you issues, close to your heart.
And then, we sometimes come together for issues that are everybody's. This week so many of you spoke out about the security of women, post the Gurgaon rape case. You wrote to us, sent us your pictures, your voices... and all of that comes together in the show this week. The Citizen Journalist show enters its 6th season this week! And there is so much to look forward to. So many more CJs to discover, so many more voices to be heard...this week another mother picks up the mike, Mavis Russel lost her 30 year old son in an accident on the Gurgaon express way. She found that her son was one among the 89 who have died on that stretch.
Akansha from the CNN-IBN CJ team has worked with Mavis since November last year. We filed RTIs, sought advice from road safety experts, shot for many days and put together a story that comes from a mother's heart. It was difficult for Mavis to recount the death of her son, to go back repeatedly to the spot where she had found her son's car smashed. But Mavis has shown remarkable grit. Tear drops roll down her eyes, but she looks determined. Akansha Pradeep did a lot of leg work, she went and met other victims of the expressway. There is a lot that has gone into this story. I am sure many of you will connect with this CJ report.
This season there will also be a lot happening on the website. Challenges, assignments, space for your take on current issues. There is a whole lot to look forward to this season. Already so many of your pictures and videos and up on the site. A CJ in Pune is out on the streets already, catching men in uniform breaking rules, and CJ Anjali is shooting for her CJ story. But that's next week... and in the coming weeks, who knows maybe you will find the Citizen Journalist in you.