Your Lordship, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, our Chief Guest this evening, all the award nominees, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of the Express Group, I’m privileged to welcome you to this very special evening – to applaud the nominees and the winners of the Third Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards.
Before we get down to serious business, on a lighter note, some breaking news: this is perhaps the only media event this year unaffected by the economic slowdown. There have been no cuts in prize money, no shrinking of categories, no trimming of the red carpet.
For all the intimations of mortality of journalism that we hear so much these days, I am delighted to report that, in the third year of these awards, we received the highest number of entries from the highest number of print and broadcast media organisations.
That is, in itself, I think, a reward for all of us who have a personal and professional stake in the future of the media as we respond to its sweeping changes in technology and customer habits.
In 2006, when the Ramnath Goenka Foundation launched these awards, I had said that if the world’s oldest democracy, the United States, has the Pulitzer Prizes, the world’s largest and most diverse democracy has to have its own awards.
Because acknowledging excellence is the most powerful way to nurture it. And because some of the best work in journalism is about shining light in dark corners. So we hope that the awards magnify that light for all of us to see.
More so, when today we have a stream of prophets of doom and gloom.
They are the ones who declare, with full conviction, that the battle has been lost, that user-generated content has marched towards its inevitable triumph. That a cellphone and a camera is all you need to reach to the truth.
This loud ringing of alarm bells drowns many voices. For one, the forces that we think imperil us are some of the same forces that ensure excellence in journalism will never ever be under threat.
You could think of the blogosphere as the biggest army of fact-checkers in the world. Think of the web, its links and hyperlinks, audio and video, as a guarantee that no story can die today. Then, you think of the professional newsroom as a place not just for editing, cutting and pasting but a place where we produce trust. Where the noise gets filtered, enriched with accuracy, credibility, analysis and insight.
All the reporters we honour today showcase this trust.
Their stories embody it, their subjects demand it. And, as readers and viewers, we value it. They have shown a commitment to subjects that had they not gone after, would, perhaps, never have been told.
That, in the end, is what excellence in journalism is all about, whatever the technology, whatever the trend, whatever the medium it chooses to take: telling us what we don’t know, making us question what we think we know.
Let me end with a quote:
Great journalism will always attract readers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism must feed the mind and move the heart. As long as news organisations create must-read, must-have content, and deliver it in the medium that suits the reader, they will endure.
That’s Rupert Murdoch, who has a strange habit of seeing the future in the media before most of us.
The winners of the Third Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards have created must-read, must-have content.
We must applaud – because if the future is in their hands, it’s pretty safe.
Thank you for listening.
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