13th Ramnath Goenka Awards: Stronger journalism will make democracy brighter, says Rajnath Singh

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Updated: January 05, 2019 7:19 AM

After presenting awards to 29 winners in 18 categories — across print, broadcast and purely-digital — for outstanding work done in 2017.

The discussion, which was moderated by The Indian Express deputy editor Seema Chishti, was followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

UNDERLINING THE importance of credibility in journalism, home minister Rajnath Singh said Friday that while it is not necessary for media to develop a friendship with the government, there should be no rancour between the two.
“I do not believe there can be no friendship between the media and the government… (But) even if they cannot be friends, they should not have a feeling of animosity towards each other,” he said at the 13th edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in New Delhi.

Singh was delivering the keynote address at the event.

After presenting awards to 29 winners in 18 categories — across print, broadcast and purely-digital — for outstanding work done in 2017.

He said that journalism stood on the “pillars of fearlessness and nationalism”. “Journalism which is against the nation or covers up instances of corruption… is not journalism,” Singh said.

READ ALSO | Ramnath Goenka Awards highlights: There should not be any sensationalism in news, says Rajnath Singh

“I read these lines: ‘Naxal are Gandhians with guns’. I can’t imagine this. Gandhi with gun? There is talk of human rights of those who kill people. What about the human rights of soldiers who fight them?” he said.

Emphasising that journalism was not just the watchdog of democracy but also the barometer on which it is measured, he said, “True journalism strengthens the country… The stronger journalism becomes, brighter shines a democracy.”
Pointing out that it was credibility built over years that defines the relationship between media and the people, Singh said, “The media needs to remain vigilant that this faith is not shaken.”

The home minister also spoke about how conventional media was facing fresh challenges in the form of “social media, fake news and coloured news”. “But the importance of conventional media will sustain as long as it maintains its credibility,” Singh said.
Singh also cautioned against “mixing views with news” and said that there should be “a separate space for views”. “Media should show the mirror to the government, but the mirror must not be coloured,” he said.

In his welcome address, Viveck Goenka, chairman of the Express Group, congratulated the winners and said that “good journalism is its own reward”. “There is excellent journalism out there if we look beyond shouting TV and social media forwards,” he said. Raj Kamal Jha, chief editor, The Indian Express, delivered the vote of thanks.

The awards ceremony was followed by a panel discussion on the subject, ‘#MeToo in the Newsroom: What editors can and should do’.

READ ALSO | A good story is the most powerful counter to attempts to muzzle media freedom: Viveck Goenka

The panel had four women editors and newsroom leaders: Dhanya Rajendran, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The News Minute; Meenal Baghel, editor of Mumbai Mirror; Ritu Kapur, co-founder and chief executive officer of The Quint; and Rupa Jha, head of Indian Languages, BBC World Service.

The discussion, which was moderated by The Indian Express deputy editor Seema Chishti, was followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

The Express Group instituted the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2005 as part of the centenary year celebrations of its founder, Ramnath Goenka. The awards aim to celebrate excellence in journalism, recognise courage and commitment and showcase the outstanding contributions of journalists from across the country.

The most prestigious annual event in the Indian media calendar is a recognition of the highest standards of journalism. Over the years, the winners have produced work — often in the face of political and economic pressures — that generates and sustains public trust in the media and impacts the lives of people.

The winning entries this time covered a range of topics that they captured accurately and fearlessly — from beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu and a tobacco giant’s campaign to get around the global anti-smoking treaty to the aspirations of women cricketers in Punjab and the life and death of those who keep our cities clean.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vice-president Venkaiah Naidu, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former president A P J Abdul Kalam, Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, former president Pratibha Patil and former chief justice of India P Sathasivam had been chief guests in earlier editions of the Awards.

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