By Aditya Vaddepalli
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic brought life to a standstill, impacting human lives and livelihoods in unprecedented ways. Through their stories that revolved around the overburdened health infrastructure, migrant exodus, plight of frontline workers, unemployment, rumours and unreported deaths, winners of the 16th Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards focused, among other issues, on the impact the pandemic had on the lives of ordinary Indians. Apart from these, prize-winning stories also included reportage on cybersecurity, climate change, sexual harassment of athletes and the aftermath of the Hathras gangrape case, among others.
The winners of 2020 and 2019 will be felicitated at this year’s function in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud will be the chief guest at the event. Previous chief guests have included President Ram Nath Kovind, Union defence minister Rajnath Singh
Instituted by the Ramnath Goenka Foundation, the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards celebrate the legacy of the founder of The Indian Express Group. The awards acknowledge and honour excellence in journalism and showcase outstanding contributions and individuals every year. The categories cover the print, digital and broadcast media spectrum, investigative, political and sports journalism to books, feature writing and regional language.
The jury for this edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards included Justice B N Srikrishna (retired); Prof (Dr) C Raj Kumar, founding vice-chancellor and dean, O P Jindal Global University; Dr S Y Quraishi, former chief election commissioner; and K G Suresh, vice chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi National University of Journalism and Communication.
“The quality of the stories this year was no different than in previous years. There was a wide range of stories, one better than the other. While I prefer when journalists persistently put out stories on social issues, like a series, a single piece of reportage can only win the award if it is extraordinary. Those who could not win this time should not lose heart and try to win the award next year,” said Quraishi.
“I was delighted to be part of the jury for this edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards. I was inspired by the way The Indian Express has been committing itself towards ethical journalism and its efforts to maintain integrity. But more importantly, the aspect of The Indian Express to identify journalists who have fearlessly reported stories and spoken to power has been truly transformative,” said Kumar.
Commenting on the diverse range of entries, he said the jury had a tough choice to make. “These were stories of valour and integrity, some from not-so-mainstream publications, which was interesting because we usually gravitate towards mainstream publications. These stories were not necessarily popular but were brought to the forefront by these journalists,” Kumar said.