New Delhi: P Sainath, a journalist who chronicles rural India and the poor and tells stories that would otherwise never be told, and Karan Thapar, whose incisive interviews with politicians and policy-makers almost always makes news, won the top honours at the third Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi on Monday.
Sainath, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu, received the Journalist of the Year Award for 2007-8 for print and Thapar for broadcast from the Chief Justice of India, Justice K G Balakrishnan .
While Muzamil Jaleel of The Indian Express won the award for covering J&K’s sex scandal and fake encounters, the same award for the broadcast category was shared by V K Shashikumar (CNN-IBN) for his reports from the jungle camps in the North-East and Nidhi Razdan (NDTV) on the aspirations of young Kashmiris. Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV won the award for political reporting (broadcast) for his Ram Sethu report, Subrata Nagchoudhury and Ravik Bhattacharya of The Indian Express won the award for print for their coverage of the Nandigram cover-up by the state government.
The inaugural Prakash Kardaley Memorial Award for civic journalism, instituted in the name of former Indian Express resident editor in Pune, went to Sayli Udas Mankikar of The Hindustan Times for her series on Mumbai’s public spaces (See full list).
Justice Balakrishnan called on the media to guard against “intrusive news gathering” and abstain from “undue sensationalism.” “Conduct of journalists and politicians in a free society is interlinked...the people’s representatives, the legislature and administration all depend on how information is disseminated between people,” he said.
Against the backdrop of continuous growth in the mass media, commensurate attention needs to be paid to ensure the media stays accurate and responsible, he said. While lauding The Indian Express for carrying on its founder Ramnath Goenka’s “strong emphasis on investigative journalism, rigorous reporting and independence of the editorial,” he added that the newspaper with the highest standards of independence also has the onus for setting a good example for other media houses.
In his welcome note, Viveck Goenka, Chairman of the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation that administers the awards, said: “Acknowledging excellence in journalism is the best way to nurture it. Some of the best work in journalism is about shining light in dark corners...we hope that the awards magnify that light for all of us to see.”
Applauding the nominees and the winners, Goenka said: “Excellence in journalism, whatever the technology, whatever the trend, is all about telling us what we don’t know, making us question what we think we know. With honesty. The winners reaffirm our faith in journalism as an act of character.”
The awards, Indian journalism’s biggest in terms of scale and prize money of over Rs 25 lakh, is set to get bigger next year. The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta announced three more categories: Comment and Interpretative Writing (Print), Investigative Reporting and Spot Reporting (for print and broadcast). Welcoming the Chief Justice, Gupta said that when the freedom of the press isn’t codified, it’s the judiciary and its interpretations of the Constitution that have guaranteed this freedom in India.
Accepting the award, Sainath said he was grateful as the award recognized “a kind of journalism normally given the short shrift” and such recognition gives hope to the several young people bursting with journalistic talent and desire to report on rural India. Thapar thanked his entire team for the award saying, “Though I might be the face, questions are put into my mouth by them.”
The Indian Express group also presented two awards for its staff members under 30, instituted in the name of journalists who died on duty. The Sanjiv Sinha Memorial Award for Excellence in Reporting went to Smita Nair for her exclusive reports on the Malegaon blast investigation. Nair dedicated the award to Hemant Karkare, the ATS chief who led the investigation, and was later killed in the Mumbai terror attack. Sinha, an Express Special Correspondent, was killed along with Madhavrao Scindia in a plane crash in 2001.
The Priya Chandrashekhar Memorial Award for Excellence in Editing was awarded to Amrita Dutta. Priya, a copy editor, died in a car crash while on an assignment in Jammu in 1997.
• Journalist of the Year, Print: P. Sainath
• Journalist of the Year, Broadcast: Karan Thapar
• Prakash Kardaley Memorial Award For Civic Journalism, Print: Sayli Udas Mankikar,The Hindustan Times
• Uncovering India Invisible, Broadcast: Mridu Bhandari, CNN-IBN
• Uncovering India Invisible, Print: Neelesh Misra & Nagendar Sharma, The Hindustan Times
• Excellence In Journalism Award, Hindi, Broadcast: Umashankar Singh, NDTV
• Excellence In Journalism Award, Hindi, Print: Punya Prasun Bajpai, Pratham Pravakta
• Film and Television Journalism, Broadcast: Vaishali Sood, CNN-IBN
• Film and Television Journalism, Print: Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka
• Reporting On HIV/AIDS, English, Print: Dnyanesh V. Jathar, The Week
• Reporting On HIV/AIDS, Marathi, Print: Savita Vikram Harkare, Lokmat
• Books (Non-Fiction), Print: Ramchandra Guha
• Regional Languages, Broadcast: M.S. Raghavender & Shital Morjaria, TV9
• Regional Languages, Print: P.K. Prakash, Madhyamam Daily
• Sports Journalism, Broadcast: Rudraneil Sengupta, CNN-IBN
• Sports Journalism, Print: Sandeep Dwivedi, The Indian Express
• Reporting from J&K and the North-East, Broadcast: V.K. Shashi Kumar & Nidhi Razdan, CNN-IBN & NDTV
• Reporting from J&K and the North-East, Print: Muzamil Jaleel, The Indian Express
• Environmental Reporting, Broadcast: Swati Thiyagarajan, NDTV
• Environmental Reporting, Print: Sonu Jain, The Indian Express
• Business And Economic Journalism, Broadcast: Abhishek Upadhyay, IBN7
• Business And Economic Journalism, Print: P. Vaidyanathan Iyer, Business World
• Foreign Correspondent Covering India, Print: Joseph Johnson, Financial Times
• Political Reporting, Broadcast: Sreenivasan Jain, NDTV
• Political Reporting, Print: Subrata Nagchoudhury & Ravik Bhattacharya, The Indian Express