Anil Thakraney: Tehelka’s award for courage is a good idea

19 Jun,2013

By Anil Thakraney

 

Tehelka has announced the ‘Tarun Sehrawat Award For Journalism Of Courage And Conscience’. The award is named in the memory a young journo who died on duty last year, at the age of 23, in the Naxal heartland. I think such an award is needed, and it’s a timely idea.

 

Because, with the massive media explosion in India and the resultant cut-throat competition, real journalism seems to have been relegated to the back seat. Proprietors and marketing directors are calling the shots in most organizations; the editor’s role has become secondary. Profitability is now the name of the game, and this is what leads to ugly, completely unethical practices like paid news. Naturally, this is terrible news for India. For the nation’s good health, we have to encourage journalists to push the boundaries, and within the restrictions they find themselves in today, find a way to unearth the hard truths. There are plenty of awards given away to the members of the media each year, but I find them meaningless. Because they appear to reward style more than substance. Tehelka’s effort therefore is very welcome.

 

And what I find most interesting is that the award is meant only for young journos, those under the age of 30 years. Terrific. We need to motivate the youngsters, we need to remind them why are journalists, we need to make sure they don’t get lost in the world of materialism and puffery. And if these dudes taste blood at a young age, chances are high they will retain the same passion for journalism throughout their careers.

 

Of course, Tehelka is trying to build its own brand, and that’s fine. The important thing is this: Such an award will help shift the focus back to real journalism. The reason why many of us opted for this profession in the first place. But got disillusioned along the way when we discovered that a healthy financial bottom-line seems to matter more than a healthy nation in the corporatized Indian media.

 

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PS: Crazy. A totally harmless commercial has invited a dirty backlash on the YouTube video. All because it features a mixed-race family. As a matter of fact, I think such ads should be encouraged, they are important for the plural societies we live in. And a pat on the back to the advertiser for refusing to pull the commercial. Cheers to Cheerios!

 

Anil Thakraney is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-at-Large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached via Twitter at @anilthakraney

 

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