Reporting on HIV/AIDS (Print), Marathi: Shekhar Vasant Deshmukh, Loksatta
Reporting on HIV/AIDS (Print, English): Sadhna Mohan, AIDS Buzz
Journalism Award for Books (Nonfiction): Dionne Bunsha, Frontline
Films and Television (Print): Mayank Shekhar, Mumbai Mirror
Business and Economic Journalism (Broadcast): Hiral Sachde and Khusboo Narayan, CNBC
Foreign Correspondent Covering India (Print): Amelia Gentleman, International Herald Tribune
Uncovering India Invisible (Broadcast): Nilanjana Bose, CNN-IBN
Uncovering India Invisible (Print): Vivek Madhao Deshpande, The Indian Express
Environmental Reporting (Print): Dionne Bunsha, Frontline
Environmental Reporting (Broadcast): Bahar Dutt, CNN-IBN
Political Reporting (Broadcast): Rohit Khanna, CNN
Political Reporting (Print): Manini Chatterjee, The Indian Express
Regional Award, Indian Language (Broadcast): MV Nikesh Kumar, Indiavision
Regional Award, Indian language (Print): Reji Joseph, Rashtra Deepika
Regional Award, Northeast (Broadcast): Kishalay Bhattacharjee, NDTV
Regional Award, Northeast (Print): David Buhril, Northeast Sun
Regional Award, Jammu and Kashmir (Broadcast): Zaffar Iqbal, NDTV
Regional Award, Jammu and Kashmir (Print): Syed Nazakat, Sahara Times
Sports Journalism (Broadcast): Gautam Bhimani, ESPN/Star Sports
Sports Journalism (Print): Shivani Naik, The Indian Express
Regional Award, Hindi (Broadcast): Ravish Kumar, NDTV
Regional Award, Hindi (Print): Bhasha Singh, Outlook Saptahik
In Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, an AIDS orphan tells his story in his own words; in Kashmir, earthquake victims struggle to rebuild their lives and elsewhere, a group of Dalit government officers dream of finding a place in urban India. These were among the stories that deserved to be told — and once they were, they were celebrated and rewarded by President A P J Abdul Kalam at the second Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, the biggest media awards in India this evening.
The award-winning stories came in from all parts of India, in all languages: from the HIV battleground of Sangli in Maharashtra to the heart of hatred and fear in Gujarat to the refugee camps in Lower Assam. Reporters worked against all odds to bring to the nation stories of resilience in Kashmir, sent dispatches from the Naxal heartland and captured the plight of scavengers in West Bengal. And occasionally, they let the people tell their own story.
From these stories across the country to the corridors of the national government is a long way but excellence brought both together when Ritu Sarin of The Indian Express won the Journalist of the Year (Print) for her series of investigative stories on the CBI’s lapses, the Bofors trail, the breach in the national security establishment and the allegations in the Paul Volcker report. Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN was judged the Journalist of the Year (Broadcast) for spearheading the coverage of all major news events of the year and giving a distinct edge to a new news channel with sharp reportage on political events. Both these awards carried a prize money of Rs 2.5 lakh each.
Instituted last year, the Ramnath Goenka Awards for excellence in journalism have set a much-needed benchmark for journalism in India. As Viveck Goenka, chairman of the Ramnath Goenka Foundation and Chairman and Managing Director of The Indian Express Group, pointed out, “There is a ceaseless deluge of information on the internet: of news, views, and more commonly, views as news. It’s here that good journalists have to step in with their compasses and their searchlights. That’s why never before has there been a more pressing need for the media to build public trust and credibility.”
All the prize-winning reports today, he added, fulfilled this trust. These were stories that would never have been told had these reporters not gone after them. The award for Uncovering India Invisible (print) went to The Indian Express’s Vivek Deshpande for his reports from the Naxal belt and to Nilanjana Bose of CNN-IBN for her report on AIDS orphans.
In all, 24 awards were given to stories that met the highest standards of journalism. “The fact that none of last year’s winners were repeated this year is a compliment to the profession and says that is in safe hands,” said The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta.
This year, four new awards were introduced. Recognising the role the media can play to increase awareness and overcome prejudices on HIV/AIDS, the Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation in association with USAID, Avert Society and Health Communication Partnership/Johns Hopkins University, presented two awards for excellence in HIV/AIDS reporting. This year, the winners were Loksatta’s Shekhar Vasant Deshmukh (Marathi) and Sadhna Mohan (English) of AIDS Buzz.
Two books in The Indian Express Group Book Series were also launched at the function: India Empowered, a collection of articles by leaders from various fields written for a special series published by the newspaper and The Prize Stories, a book on the reports that won the awards last year.
The event was attended among others by BJP leaders L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, civil aviation minister Praful Patel, minister for petroleum and gas Murli Deora, minister for science and technology Kapil Sibal, minister of state (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, MPs Rajeev Shukla, Sachin Pilot, Naveen Jindal and Sandeep Dikshit, Infosys chairman N.R. Narayanamurthy, former ONGC chairman Subir Raha, senior SC lawyer Fali Nariman, economist Meghnad Desai, former editor of The Indian Express Arun Shourie and filmmaker Shyam Benegal.
The awards given, it was the President’s turn to receive a memento: two photographs of him taken by Express photographer Praveen Jain, one the day before he took charge as President, the other his chariot ride.
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