Hi there! So here’s our story… This is how it all started…
From Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Books to Websites, Blogs, Twitter Profiles and Quora accounts, we, just like the other youngsters, were attracted to the process of information assimilation and drawing conclusions based on those pieces of information. But, what was the impact of that consumption? We never contemplated on that and life showcased us examples of the effect of what kind of information or news we consumed.
During the dreadful Nirbhaya Rape crisis, every News portal in the country was blaring with the sadness and cruelty of the news. Although the portrayal of the news was important, certain popular news portals across the country were exaggerating the news and its implications to such apathetic levels that it would have shaken anyone’s soul and that too not because of contempt, but because of the sheer audacity with which the news was being portrayed betrayed every ethical standard of journalism.
The news was not reported, it was being popularised so as to receive increased TRP for the news channel. One of our friends, so distraught with the coverage of the Rape, was horrified and committed suicide a few days later. This left a deep shock and opened up a big wound in us. Now this made me introspect further, and find out the impact of media on youth and society.
We found that Firstly, Negative News gives rise to acute Negative Actions, and had a very derogatory impact on society. Secondly, the overdose of sensationalised negative news ensured, that Positive News never saw the light of day. Third, all these negative news was creating a sense of fear and doubt in society.
But instead of getting depressed, we decided to turn the table. We thought if negative news can influence negative actions, positive stories can influence positive actions too. If people got to see and read all positive news from morning till evening, won’t they get inspired to take positive actions themselves? Can every citizen become an Optimistic Citizen? With these thoughts, we decided to try and give people a bundle of positive news and inspirational stories from around the world.
And with that, ‘The Optimist Citizen’ was born, a Purely Positive Newspaper presenting only Positive News and Optimistic Stories from around the world.
After a series of mutual deliberation and discussions, we gathered a tidy team who resonated with a similar thought process and had our first meeting on 5th October 2014 in a small park in Bhopal. A young team of under 25 years, we were all set to change the world with a revolutionary newspaper. And then we realised, that none of us had ever worked in a newsroom or had any kind of an experience in journalism whatsoever. But, again our optimism ruled over all fears and prompted us to challenge this seemingly daunting task.
We thought to start off by checking the feasibility of such a newspaper by bringing out a test copy and make it go through multiple rounds of feedback. But, before we could start collating stories, we realized we had no money. Zero money. Not even enough to print a properly assembled newspaper. We collected our pocket money and printed a test issue on chart sheets.
We went house to house, on street corners, eating joints, marketplaces, showing our newspaper, and taking people’s feedback. Surprisingly, we received a tremendously positive response to our test issue. We managed to gather some money with the help of friends and family and published our first official issue on 14th December 2014. They say ‘Good intention and good work brings good luck too’. We were able to not only print our first issue but were also able to present it and get it released by Nobel Laureate Mr Kailash Satyarthi. With the power of optimism and commitment behind us, and raring to go, we started taking annual subscriptions. Inspired by our courage, few more youth joined us. The journey had begun. Issue after issue, brought in new subscribers, helping us bootstrap the initiative.
What started with a small team of 7 who met in a park, with no committed readers except for our family members and no money whatsoever, over a period of 2 years, got transformed into an extended team of 250 youth from all around the country, with more than 1000 subscribers and a readership base of over 7000 in 20 cities across India and in 3 countries abroad. Our happiness knew no bounds when we collaborated with Universities like Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley and established partnerships with organisations of the likes of Ashoka and Pravah. Recognitions came our way when people realised that the youth had decided to shape the society they wanted to live in. We won the Manthan Award (South Asia Pacific) for the best News and Journalism category in 2015, received the Changelooms Fellowship and were nominated as an Ashoka Youth Venture in 2016.
But, in all fashions of truth, we believe the most prized possession of ours over the course of 2 years has been the immaculately impactful and diverse 500 positive stories that we have shared through The Optimist Citizen.
Now, when we look back at our journey, we realise what we have done. We too were the rebellious youth and were frustrated with everything going wrong in society. But instead of holding the sword, we held the pen. And among heavy clouds of pessimism all around us, we decided to ride that small streak of optimism, that was left in us. And today, we have The Optimist Citizen inspiring many youths around the world, to take up positive actions. We feel elated when they share their beautiful positive stories with us.
But the journey has just begun. Let us remind ourselves every morning when we wake up, that there is so much good happening in the world, and we can do so much more. In this world of deep-rooted cynicism, let’s recognise, acknowledge and celebrate the good happening around. Take a positive action today, and join us in this positive revolution.
We welcome you to the family of The Optimist Citizens.
Message from TOC Team..
We are a young startup, bootstrapping our initiative since inception. Any type of contribution and support will be highly appreciated. To support this initiative, please write to us at email@example.com
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