Ramnath Goenka Awards presented, heated debate on journalists’ intellect ensues

17 Jan,2012

By Akash Raha


The Ramnath Goenka Memorial Foundation hosted The Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, one of the most prestigious awards that acknowledge excellence in all forms of journalism, print and broadcast, in all languages on January 16 in New Delhi.


The awardees for the year 2012 are as follows.



Like every year, the award ceremony was followed by a panel discussion. This year, the subject based on the Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju’s observation: “The majority of media people are of poor intellectual level.”


Justice Markandey Katju was present during the award ceremony and the discussion that followed. There were several politicians, journalists and academicians present, amongst the audience and the panel, who spoke on the topic and ensured that the discussion and debate was at a fever pitch with their war of words.


Speaking on the issue, panelist Mr Digvijay Singh of Congress party said that there are black sheep in all works of life and the same holds true for the media as well, but to generalize and say that all of them have low intellectual level would be wrong. However, fellow politician and panel member Mr Sharad Yadav of JDU said that times have changed and with that the standards of journalism have fallen too, illustrating his argument by pointing towards the TV channels, who “invest too much in irrelevant news”. He also pointed at the issue of paid news which has tarnished the image of journalists and media houses alike. He said that the proliferation of media has caused the standards of news to fall.


Furthermore, he said: “the media industry has to be accountable… If the Prime Minister of India is accountable for his deeds, so shall be the media.”


Some panel members also raised the question whether it was important for journalists to be intellectually strong. According to some, journalism is of two kinds, hard news and opinion – and in the former, one does not need intellect, only moral integrity. LK Advani, who was the part of the audience said: “I don’t think that journalism has failed the democracy. However, there have been a few shortcomings off late. Yet, I will not say that they have low intellectual levels.”


Digvijay Singh stated that intellect is required in the whole profession of journalism, be it opinion or reporting. However, he added that with the kind of expansion media has seen lately, it is possible that the training of young and budding journalists remains incomplete. He also advocated for accountability and self regulation in media.


Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal agreed with Sibal: “Putting out information as soon as possible has become the need of the hour for those in visual media. At such times, news which needs to be evaluated is often not evaluated and is broadcasted without any checks. It is not the fault of the journalist, but that of the medium itself.”


Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an academician, and a member of the panel said that when a state dictates terms as to what is to be broadcasted or not, it creates insecurity. He made his point when he censured Katju’s stand on Dev Anand’s demise, when he said that the news should not have been on the front page of all newspapers.


Senior journalist and columnist Tavleen Singh engaged in a war of words with Katju when she questioned the credentials of judiciary. Katju evaded the question by asking her to “please confine yourself to the topic at hand… there will be other days for discussion on the judiciary,” but she persisted with her attacks on Katju and his authoritarian comments on media. She went on to say that PCI has to be more active in the future to regulate media, as judiciary is too incompetent to do so.


Senior journalist Nalini Singh thought it important that journalists and media houses, especially the visual media, should introspect as to what kind of news stories they are doing. She said that usually only 5-6 big stories are followed on and so many news stories are ignored every day. Udayan Mukherjee of CNBC agreed: “A lot of our media are not up to the mark… and I don’t feel resentful of the idea that there is something wrong with the media.”


When Shekhar Gupta of The Indian Express group was asked how he feels about visual media and the pace at which news is disseminated today he said: “Everybody with a camera is not a journalist, he is only a transmitter of raw unchecked data.” Editorial intimidation is very important and one has to ensure that the news published is factual, in public interest and of public interest.”


The panel discussion was brought to an end by Mr Katju where he congratulated all the awardees.


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One response to “Ramnath Goenka Awards presented, heated debate on journalists’ intellect ensues”

  1. Rohit Shrivastava says:

    you given a wrong information in the above list.
    i.e. Rajat Kain is associated with NDTV not with CNN-IBN.
    kindly correct the above list.

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