Community journalism in many ways has become the core thrust of many newspapers worldwide. Hyperlocal content is what readers are focussed on - they need to know what affects them at an immediate level.
This might make some think that it detaches one from the bigger issue, the bigger picture that governs all of humanity, thereby reducing our accountability. Nothing can be farther from the truth.
The hyper local narrative shows the immediate impact of our actions, something we cannot ignore. We are not talking about a march in a far away country. A forgotten story in a newspaper.
We are now talking about what is happening on our individual doorsteps and there is no ignoring that. In fact, the accountability becomes much more immediate.
For example we are running a story on the environmental impact that our various home cleaning agents have, this includes beauty products. The plastic in them gets into waterways and ingested by fish, which we then consume. We are poisoning ourselves with our actions. So, you have youngsters working to create awareness about that within a community, which then finds its way on to our Your Turn pages - proving community journalism is vital to our day-to-day functioning and the people who are part of that grassroots reporting strand equally important.
Coming to our winners for the month of February, first place goes to Shradhdha Kannappan for her report published on February 21. This young girl has collected 200 kilograms of clothes for people in Somalia. She handed over her collection to the Emirates Red Crescent. Do take a moment to read her profile on this page to understand the immensity of her actions for someone so young.
Second place goes to Mishal Faraz, yet another young person, who worked with her school to donate used school uniforms and books to students who might need it due to economic conditions. The initiative was very well received and supported by her school. She hopes to get more schools to participate in this exercise of ‘waste not, want not’.
Her report was published on February 12.
Third place is for Kehkashan Basu - a veteran community reporter. I remember her coming to Gulf News as a very young girl and the determined glint in her eye when she talked about environmental issues. She has stayed true to her word and worked hard to help save our planet in as many ways as possible. This particular report has her cleaning up the mangroves near Abu Dhabi, along with members of an environmental group she has set up. The article was published on February 1.
People quite often fail to understand the importance of mangroves as an ecosytem. They are in a sense the lungs of the Earth, act as environmental buffers and natural fish nurseries. Their destruction has a direct impact on human and animal life.
Our special mentions include Mohammad Ejaz Ahmad for highlighting the continuing menace of people chewing betel leaves or paan and spitting onto walls, which ruins facades and spreads disease. This is despite it being banned by the authorities.
We also need to recognise the effort by Nora Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi who works with Syrian refugees, and strives hard to bring joy into their otherwise fractured lives.