Indigenous Journalism and Community Radio

Community media as a tool has the potential to address the inaccessibility of information and can provide a platform for self-representation. It aids in democratising knowledge and information flows where community agency decides on content to be circulated, shared and read. Most of the indigenous journalism activities are being taken up through the medium of newsletters, radio, audio-visual documentation and wifi mesh radios, allowing the communities to retain the integrity of their knowledge. The medium also allows  broadening of community opinion, analysing social issues and encouraging reflexive and critical thinking. The community media contents offer perspectives related to climate change and resilience, socio-cultural histories, community access to forest resources and rights.


Video: Ritwick C Doraiappah

Some of the flagship initiatives of indigenous community journalism in the last 13 years are:

 Nilgiri Seemai Suddhi (Since 2007): Seemai (cultural boundary) Suddhi (news) is a  multilingual newspaper from a community of indigenous barefoot journalists and storytellers. For the first nine years, this newspaper was monthly but became quarterly in recent years due to funding constraints. At present, barefoot reporters from multiple communities meet every month to make journalistic and editorial decisions on the information that can be shared in the biosphere reserve. The newspaper emerged from the need to circulate knowledge amongst local communities in languages and mediums that are accessible to them. News that gets featured ranges from births, deaths and culturally significant ceremonies in the communities to relevant information on agriculture, livelihoods, sacred geographies and ecologies and information about social security and civic issues.  

 Radio Kotagiri 90.4 Mhz (Since 2013): Radio Kotagiri has been operating in a 15km radius around the Kotagiri town panchayat in the Nilgiris district, which covers a few Toda and Kota community villages. Led by an Irula radio journalist, the community radio station (CRS) broadcasts content on a vast array of community experiences as well as songs and storytelling in indigenous languages from different parts of the biosphere reserve. It also plays an important role in discussing Sustainable Development Goals in local languages. Radio Kotagiri has also been able to give technical support to indigenous community media initiatives in regions with low-technological infrastructure as a part of decentralising Information Communication Technologies.

Kwol Radio (Since 2020): Kwol Radio is a unique initiative to create a wifi mesh community media network in the Aracode region. The main objectives of Kwol Radio are:

1) to provide a platform for communities residing in the villages to create programmes about their ways of living which can be accessed anytime by residents through logging into the local area network 

2) to create a local communication channel through which residents can communicate local issues with each other and 

3) to encourage indigenous journalism initiatives in multiple media formats curated by community members.

Images: Keystone Foundation

 The reporters and volunteers exhibit stewardship at the local level by crowdsourcing information and creating awareness modules of issues related to land, livelihoods, culture and tradition, identity and social entitlements. The community media initiatives are important advocacy tools at the grassroots level, and go on to become important mediums to form public opinion and insider perspectives, thus furthering the aims of environmental and social justice.

Nilgiri Seemai Suddhi (Since 2007): Seemai (cultural boundary) Suddhi (news) is a multilingual newspaper from a community of indigenous barefoot journalists and storytellers.

How can you help?

We are where we are due to the support of our volunteers and donors. We seek your continued support in taking our initiatives forward.


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