Recognition for pioneering women journalists in India

The Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) Media Trust’s Astor Award – one of the most prestigious and oldest press media freedom awards in the world – has been presented to the ground-breaking Indian publication, Khabar Lahariya. The Award is made to honour their contribution to media freedom and investigative journalism, and their commitment to diversity and equality.

Khabar Lahariya is India’s only independent news outlet run entirely by women, bringing hard-hitting and powerful investigative journalism, human interest stories, and vibrant cultural and entertainment content from the country’s remote areas with little access to news. Starting as a print newspaper in 2002, with hyperlocal content and stories often written from a feminist perspective for a rural and semi-rural audience, it now has a network of 25 female reporters across six states in north India and an audience of up to 20 million. 

Speaking at a reception in the House of Lords in London, the CPU Chairman, Lord Black, praised what he called Khabar Lahariya’s exceptional contribution to media freedom. “They promote independent quality journalism, champion diversity, and ground-breaking investigative reporting in often difficult and complex circumstances,” he said.

… the power of the word changing the world.

Meera Davi

Receiving the Award, Meera Davi, Managing Editor of Khabar Lahariya, and Pooja Pande, co-CEO of Chambal Media, publisher of Khabar Lahariya said: “We’ve been fighting the good fight for under-represented voices since our inception in the early 2000s, because we strongly believe in the power of the word changing the world. While the journey itself is the greatest reward, a mighty recognition like the Astor Award really motivates us to continue doing the work, fighting the good fight.”

The paper is published in various rural dialects of Hindi. It was started by Nirantar, a Delhi-based non-government organisation which focuses on gender and education. It is written, edited, produced, distributed and marketed entirely by rural women from disadvantaged communities.

The co-founder of Khabar Lahariya, Shalini Joshi – speaking in an interview with the International Journalists Network – said part of the rationale for starting the paper was the desire to do more than just portray women in a positive light. It had to be about looking at the use and abuse of power by people, institutions and systems. 

She said the founders were committed to skilling and establishing women as reporters, editors, designers and photographers and doing everything that was previously unimaginable.