Meet Piyush Ghosh, 20, founder of The Optimist Citizen newspaper and a winner in the e-News & Journalism category at the Manthan Award 2015. He is, perhaps, the youngest ever to win this prestigious award. His newspaper focuses only on positive news and change makers. The newspaper has both a print media version and an online version. In just one year his newspaper has more than 3,000 offline subscribers for the print version and few thousand online subscribers with about 20 subscribers from abroad – mainly from the US, the UK and Dubai. He is our Cyber Champ of the month.
“Most days I wake up in a very good and happy mood but the moment I start reading the newspapers my day gets completely destroyed – there are only stories about murder, rape, violence, wars, natural disasters and so on – just a whole lot of negativity,” he says. “So, I thought why not create a newspaper that only reports on positive news and change makers – all the good work that people are doing in various areas?”
Launching a print media newspaper and making it sustainable is, however, not easy. But he had one advantage – his father Pradeep Ghosh, an Ashoka Fellow and a founder of the non-profit development sector civil society organization Oasis India (http://www.oasisorg.in), a part of the global Oasis network of non-profits, as well as his mother are dedicated social activists.
He doesn’t hesitate to admit that since childhood his sensibilities and values have been moulded by his parents. He discussed his idea with his father and when he said he liked it, Piyush immediately called a meeting with four or five like-minded friends on 5th October, 2014. And the dynamic, energetic youngsters launched the newspaper on 15th December, 2014.
They started with a print order of 500 but by leveraging his father’s contacts and goodwill, today Piyush and his small group of core members produce and sell 3,000 copies offline print versions and have quite a few thousand online readers and subscribers. “Our print version and online version goes to subscribers in Mumbai, Bhopal, Indore, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi and we also have 15-20 subscribers from abroad – mainly from the US, the UK and Dubai,” he says.
“We have a different marketing policy – we offer advertisement space to start-ups and NGOs at a very nominal rate and we share of our annual subscription of Rs 250 – that is Rs 40 – with anyone who brings in a subscription”, Piyush says. The newspaper also gets advertisement revenue from online advertising and has already become more or less sustainable. “We are now working on launching a mobile app to make the newspaper accessible to more people,” he said by way signing off.