Does your newspaper change things in the neighbourhood?
I am asked this question at discussions on small and local media.
I tell people that we are agents of change.
I have been observing the impact in the Adyar neighbourhood where we run Adyar Times, published on Sundays.
The weekly always has a few stories every week on local civic issues, community projects and on the law and order situation.
Details of the projects proposed by local councillors get big play - sometimes though the councillors and officials are not happy at the publication since this becomes a public record.
Now, many Adyarites are picking up the information from these reports to comment/remark or debate the issues. Others are delving deep into local problems and are quick to e-mail their letters. Still others send us short notes.
Many local officials do take note of these voices that find a place in the weekly. We know that official response has been quick in some instances. Clippings of key reportage find their way to senior officers.
Change takes place. Sometimes immediately, some times gradually and sometimes, slowly.
All of us can make this happen faster if we have an alert readership. One which also communicates on key local, issues.
This is one reason why we run our annual Journalism Camp for senior students in summer. To equip interested young people with the tools and skills necessary to communicate and be more active in the public sphere.
Many young people who attend this Camp do so to prepare for admission to media courses. Some though have gone on to write letters or report on local events or even send pictures to our weeklies and to other media.
This year's Camp will be in mid-April and is open to young people of the city. We look forward to the bright sparks.
You can get a feel of the course and what goes on during the camp at the blog - www.mtjclass.blogspot.com