Meet the Winners – Khabar Lahariya

The trophies have been given out, toasts have been made and the canapés have been eaten. After four fantastic global events recognizing the work of organizations and individuals across the cloud industry, the Digital Revolution Awards 2023 season has come to a close.

Throughout the Digital Revolution Awards 2023 events, we saw many outstanding winners take the stage, receiving a round of applause for making a positive impact on our world through cloud technology.

Now it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of those worthy victors and showcase the fantastic work that made them winners in the Digital Revolution Awards.

In this Meet the Winners blog, we’re getting to know the winner of our Outstanding Contribution to the Google Cloud Community award, Khabar Lahariya.

One of our newer additions, the Outstanding Contribution to the Google Cloud Community award recognizes the exceptional efforts of those individuals and organizations working in the growing Google Cloud platform field.

Our first-ever winner is an organization helmed by a unique and talented team that has taken it on a cloud-powered journey to become India’s only independent news outlet run entirely by women.

Beginning life as a print operation run by women from rural communities, Indian news outlet Khabar Lahariya has made a transformative switch to digital media, educating its journalists on Google Cloud platforms in the process.

Not only has this training given journalists the tools to report powerful and important stories, but it has also equipped them with life-changing tech skills that they’re able to share with their communities.

Overcoming barriers to tech

Launched in 2002 as a print newspaper, Khabar Lahariya was born out of an adult literacy program for rural women. Every fortnight, its seven-woman staff wrote and produced a newspaper in both Bundeli and Hindi, covering everything from local issues to global events from a uniquely feminist perspective.

The paper went digital in 2015, becoming a video-first outlet and distributing content primarily through YouTube. This switch from traditional print to online platforms was not an easy one, as many of the women on the team were not tech-literate.

“We had a longstanding print newspaper legacy of over 15 years, which has won many prestigious awards,” said Chambal Academy’s Co-CEO Suneeta Prajapati.

“But venturing into the digital world was imperative to keep pace with the evolving times. It enabled us to reach and connect with a global audience, but it also came with a unique set of challenges.

To help them build the skills they need to continue their work and grow their reach, the women received training on a range of Google Cloud products, including Gmail, Google Chat, Google Drive, YouTube, and Google Analytics, which the team now uses to manage monthly traffic and adapt content to its audience.

“When we embarked on this digital transition, many members of our team were uncertain and apprehensive,” explained Suneeta. “For some, it was their first encounter with a smartphone, and they had to learn how to record and anchor news reports, use Zoom for online meetings, navigate social media, and confront internet trolls.

“But our team rose above their fears and conquered these obstacles, emerging stronger and more confident than ever.

Today, the channel has over 570,000 subscribers and has racked up more than 150 million views. And since transitioning to digital, the operation has grown significantly; the Khabar Lahariya team now includes 25 female reporters across 16 districts who produce regular, hyperlocal content delivered through digital-only platforms.

Driving change through learning

The drive to upskill the Khabar Lahariya team on cloud platforms has had a positive effect far beyond empowering its impactful, ground-breaking investigative journalism. The training built new digital skills across the Google Cloud stable and exposed women in rural India to new potential career options.

These skills are part of a much larger and more important mission: to empower women with transformative digital skills that they can disseminate within their communities, creating a new generation of cloud professionals and unlocking life-changing opportunities for all.

“We firmly believe in the power of knowledge,” said Suneeta. “It’s this belief that fuels our drive to empower rural women, gender minorities, and marginalized communities by equipping them with the transformative power of technology and the internet.”

Through its training arm, Chambal Academy, Khabar Lahariya has trained over 500 women from rural areas of India in digital storytelling to date. Without Khabar Lahariya and the work of its journalists, this cohort of skilled cloud users would not exist, as it’s unlikely they would have had any other opportunity to use cloud products.

Offering a range of courses on digital storytelling and cloud products, the academy trains women to create content aimed at rural communities and use technology to upload it to Khabar Lahariya’s digital platforms.

“Chambal Academy was launched to propel our vision,” Suneeta said, “paving the way for rural women to have equal access to digital education. Through a dynamic array of courses, interactive workshops, comprehensive toolkits, and opening doors to online job opportunities, Chambal Academy is striving for a digital media landscape that is truly inclusive and diverse.”

 There are no prerequisites for joining the program. Women from all backgrounds and all education levels are welcome to take part, giving underrepresented voices and perspectives a way to be heard.

“The academy stands at the forefront of our digital transformation, tackling digital barriers and bridging the gender divide for young rural women in India. Through comprehensive training and empowering initiatives, we are enabling these women to actively participate in the digital public sphere, so that they are no longer passive spectators but dynamic agents of change, armed with the tools to shape a bright future.”

And the women of Chambal Academy are doing great things with those tools. Many of the program’s participants have gone on to train others through its massive online community. These skilled cloud mavens have helped the organization thrive by sharing what they’ve learned with an online audience of over 11 million people every month.

A bright future

“We were elated to win this year’s Digital Revolution Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Google Cloud Community,” said Chambal Academy’s Co-CEO Suneeta Prajapati.

“This recognition holds special significance for us at Khabar Lahariya, as we are still in the early stages of our digital journey, having only embraced the digital world in 2015.

“The future is undeniably digital,” said Co-CEO Pooja Pande. “And it’s crucial that we strive to create a more inclusive digital work from where we are at and through the work that we do.

“So for us, the Digital Revolution Awards are really a platform to be able to celebrate this journey and recognize that this is the work that matters, so that we can continue doing the work of creating these digital champions, ourselves included, who are leveraging technology to make a positive impact.”

“This award serves as a powerful validation of our vision and fuels our determination,” added Suneeta, “propelling us to continue pushing boundaries and amplifying our efforts towards digital inclusion. We hope to forge partnerships with fellow digital changemakers and collaborate on co-creating solutions that foster an inclusive, accessible, and equitable digital world.

“We believe that true transformation occurs when we amplify the voices and aspirations of those on the periphery, empowering them to shape their own narratives.”

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