Siddharth Varadarajan, chief of the Delhi Bureau of The Hindu, gets the Journalist of the Year award in Print Category

President Pratibha Patil on Thursday said the recent phenomenon of ‘paid news' could distort news and this interfered with the concept of a free, fair and objective press.

Speaking after presenting the 4th Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards at the Taj Palace hotel here, the President delved into the history and relevance of the Indian media and the challenges it faced in today's constantly changing world.

“With a long tradition of press freedom, its role in the freedom struggle and the high professional standards that have been set, contemporary journalism can draw strength from this legacy,” she said.

Ms. Patil termed journalistic accounts “important chronicles of our time” and pointed out that this reinforced the duty of the media to report events objectively and correctly, without resorting to sensationalism.

She noted that media today operated in a “relentless 24-hour news cycle.” A situation existed today where newspaper headlines in the morning were no longer new. “Today issues are trivialised and trivial issues become headlines. In a fast-paced world, in-depth research suffers. Audiences and readers still demand and welcome well-researched stories.”

Award jury member and Rajya Sabha member M.S. Swaminathan reminded the winners that they were “not only custodians of the integrity of the media, but also custodians of our personal freedoms.”

The awards were given to 29 categories, comprising political reporting, business, sports, environmental and entertainment journalism, investigative journalism and on-the-spot reporting.

Siddharth Varadarajan, chief of the Delhi Bureau of TheHindu, was selected for the Journalist of the Year award in the Print Category for his extensive reportage on the India-U.S. nuclear deal, the placing of India's civil nuclear reactors under the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards and the exemption granted to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

In his speech after receiving the award, Mr. Varadarajan said he had to dedicate considerable time and effort for the stories, and was thankful for having a platform like TheHindu, which helped him to write about the issue in all its complexities.

Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Times Now, was selected for Journalist of the Year in the Broadcast Category. “Some will call our journalism jingoistic, but I would call it blunt,” he said in his acceptance speech.

Harish Damodaran of The Hindu Business Line won the award for the Best Non-Fiction Book in English for his work, “India's New Capitalists.”

Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta announced a new award category for “Journalism of Courage.” It was given posthumously to Indian Express correspondent Vijay Pratap Singh, who died on Tuesday night of the injuries he sustained in a bomb blast in Allahabad on July 12.

A panel discussion on “Good News is Paid News, Credibility is for Sale” followed the awards ceremony.

More In: National | News