At a function held to recognise and celebrate the contributions of regional language journalists whose work has given voice to the underprivileged, particularly those in rural areas, awards were given to two scribes who have worked in rural Karnataka — V. Gayatri and T.K. Dayanand.

It was also the venue for the celebration of the work of another journalist, Rural Affairs Editor of The Hindu P. Sainath. A Kannada translation of his book, Everybody loves a good drought, by G.N. Mohan, titled Bara Andre Ellarigoo Ishta, was released here.

The Counter Media Awards is funded by the royalties earned from the book, published by Penguin in 1996. The awards were given away by Kannada writer Devanoor Mahadeva, who implored journalists to serve as conscience keepers of society at a time when the education system, democratic processes and the social fabric at large were fast degrading. The distinguished panel of guests, which included H.N. Nagmohan Das, judge, Karnataka High Court, applauded the two freelance journalists for their work. Speaking to The Hindu after receiving the award, Ms. Gayatri said the objective of her journalism was to understand what had prompted farmers to migrate to cities, and what drove them to take a drastic step like suicide. She has been editing a bi-monthly magazine, Sahaja Saguvali, for 10 years now.

Mr. Dayanand was chosen for the award for the series of articles he did on manual scavenging in Karnataka. Addressing the audience, he said that the sheer injustice that he saw around him drove him to work consistently on these stories.

Mr. Sainath said it was significant that the two award winners were freelancers, which he said was a reflection of the fact that mainstream media did not have space for passionate journalists to pursue their interests. The event included a screening of the film Nero’s guests by Deepa Bhatia. The translation has been published by Abhinava publication.

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