The former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N. Ram, and veteran author-journalist-activist Kuldip Nayar were honoured with the prestigious RedInk Lifetime Achievement Awards for 2013 for “a career dedicated to good journalism” by the Press Club of Mumbai on Saturday.
Mr. K. Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra, presented the award to Mr. Ram for “being a fearless crusader in the field of journalism” at a glittering function in the National Centre for Performing Arts here.
“I am honoured to accept this award. I have a lot of regard and affection for the Press Club of Mumbai, with whom I’ve participated in many of the Press movements and regard as the best in the tradition of Indian journalism,” said Mr. Ram while accepting his award.
Mr. Nayar, who could not be present at the ceremony, expressed his gratitude in a pre-recorded speech: “For me, it has been a long journey of 55 years in the field of journalism. I am indebted for this award.”
Later, in a panel debate, ‘Keeping the media free and fair’, moderated by television anchor Arnab Goswami, Mr. Ram said the media in India faced a daily threat from a judiciary seeking to encroach on them through laws such as ‘criminal defamation’ and ‘contempt of court’.
Mr. Ram also expressed his doubts on the fairness of the media not only in a developing country like India but also in developed western countries like the U.K. and the United States. He said the phenomenon of paid news, coupled with ‘hyper-commercialisation’ and the control that proprietors exerted over content, detracted from a healthy state of affairs within the media.
“Editorialising in the guise of news has become a vice not only in the Indian press but also in the press abroad, and the reporter in the field [is] compelled to editorialise. In the process, the standards of journalism have been affected,” said Mr. Ram, adding self-regulation in the media without a statutory underpinning would not get very far.
Guest of Honour Information & Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari and Star India CEO Uday Shankar participated in the debate.
More than 20 other journalists received awards in various categories for excellence in journalism at the event.
Winners included Samanth Subramaniam of Caravan magazine and Nauzer K. Barucha of The Times of India (joint winners in the Politics category), Aditya Iyer of The Indian Express (Sports), Santosh Andhale of DNA and Vinod Kumar Menon of Mid-Day (Health & Environment), Priyanka Pulla of Open Magazine, Samanth Subramaniam of Caravan (for Entertainment & Media), Joe C. Mathew of Business World (Business), Priyanka Dubey of Tehelka (Crime) and Raju Shinde of Mumbai Mirror for Photography in the category titled ‘Big Picture’.
The Hindu’s Africa correspondent Aman Sethi and Mohan Sundara Rajan, contributor to The Hindu, were runners-up in the Politics and Science & Innovation categories respectively.
The Lifetime Achievement awards were selected by the managing committee of the Press Club based on a survey of leading and senior journalists across the country.
“The purpose of this award was to recognise those who lent some gravitas and depth of understanding to journalism and remembered there was such a writing instrument called the pen,” said Mumbai Press Club President Gurbir Singh.
The event was hosted by veteran journalist and columnist Bachi Karkaria with her traditional wit.