Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Special Journalists of our times!

When we talk of journalism, journalistic activism, media's social responsibility and accountability, let's never forget about the journalism awards which are being given anually in the name of many renowned journalists, sponsored by big press lords like The Indian Express and by the Indian government's agencies like publication division and others. These awards are in the sense of utmost importance as they try to create role models in our society for the upcoming journalists who aspire to get these awards in the future.

This topic will prove to be a bone of contention between many, as I think. It will create a large number of foes infact rather than friends, but this cannot be avoided to be mentioned in the public domain. Last week, a prestigious journalism award was given in the FICCI auditorium. We all know that the award which is being given in the name of deceased journalist Udayan Sharma is of great value not only in terms of the amount, it attracts almost all the media people in Delhi every year in its function. So I was also there as I was last year in Teenmurti Bhawan. I with most of my journalist friends was expecting good names to come out this year for these awards, but shockingly we all were taken aback when the names got announced.

Let's assume that I don't take the names, but then the readers will already get to know the names, so no point in avoiding them. The first award for journalism and photography was given to the Sikar reporter of Rajasthan Patrika and its photographer. To cut short, just tell you that Rajasthan Patrika group had donated Rs. One Lakh to the Udayan Sharma Foundation recently. It's very easy to connect these two incidents.

Now the special awards for journalism were given to two of my aquaintances...first to Sanjay Verma of Navbharat Times and the other to Archana Rajhans of Janmat TV. (Sanjay Verma is there as Assistant Editor for a long time but Archana has joined Janmat recently as a Copy Editor and this is her first job. She has recently completed her diploma in journalism from Guru Jambeshwar University, Hissar by correspondence.) Sanjay was awarded because he had done a story on the Googles's website Google Earth. This was not a very original report as many of us know about this website from a long time, just to write about it and pose it as a danger to national security does not invite an award of this stature.Archana was given award for her coverstory in Jansatta...I don't know which one. She has done some coverstories on Khabar Laharia, role of women in village panchayats and community radio. To cut short, the community radio matter was copied from an academic book, village panchayat matter was taken from Charkha and can easily guess if you know her Godfather in Delhi media...Mr. Prasoon Latant of Jansatta. To remind our readers, Mr. Prasoon Latant got the same award last year...this was justified as he has done lot of grassroot writing in the last ten years or more and he deserved it. But then, how come Archana Rajhans fit into the criterion? The same question for Sanjay Verma who regularly writes Pustak Parichay in Navbharat Times and articles by the name Sanjay Verma "Uday" in different dailies by copying from internet and translating them. Is this journalism? Has Archana visited any of the village panchayats, has she done reporting at grassroot level? Then, what are her credentials? Just because these two send their applications for the award...the jury consisting of senior editors like Madhusoodan Anand of NBT, Ramkripal Singh of Aaj Tak (previously NBT) and Mr. Rahul Dev (related to Janmat) is not an easy one to have a ride on. Then did they inquire about the credentials of these journalists?

Let me tell you something more interesting. A few days ago, a coverstory appeared in the Jansatta Ravivari about the strengthening village panchayats bylined Vimal Gupt. Vimal Ji is the wife of Shri Rajkishor, our revered writer...confucious of Hindi literature as once quoted by Anamika in one of her reviews in Jansatta on Rajkishor's poetry "Paap Ke Din". This was a planted story, according to the sources from Jansatta just to snatch an award by Rajkishor on his wife's name. The award was in five figures given by the Indian Social Institute. Now, have you seen today's Jansatta? There is a coverstory on the role of women in the village panchayats bylined Prasoon Latant. Sources revealed that this story was also planted just for the sake of grabbing the same award, bur Prasoon ji missed by a whisker. The last date of publishing the story was July 15th but unfortunately it got published on the 16th i.e. today. I think he will use this story for the award next year.

The whole equation of getting published by strategically copying and planting the story does not end here only. One of my freelancer friends had done a column in the last issue of India Today named "Srijan Samwad" on Asgar Wazahat. Why? He had an interview on 14th i.e. day before yesterday in Jamia for M.Phil. He is expecting to get selected. Many of these creatures are continously in search of getting benefits from their planted stories and I know them, but I think these names will suffice. The rest you people know about the Alok Mehta case. He was called in Shruti program of NSD to read excerpts from his new novel...after some days Devendra Raj Ankur got a column in Outlook Hindi. You can easily trace this type of Give And Take instances in the Delhi media circle, no one speaks about these things and working in media becomes a tragedy.

We never have any personal grudge on these types of issues, but shouldn't they be revealed in the public arena? And if our seniors are involved in these heinous crimes, what will be the fate of the so called fourth estate in our country? This is true that awards do not decide the journalistic and writing capabilities of a person, but at least they are a recognisation of good work being done in the media. Has someone wondered why Ramnath Goenka award always goes to the reporters of Express group and NDTV? Why Kanchana Smriti Award went to the reporter of Jansatta Pratibha Shukla? People who know the credentials and capabilities of Pratibha can explain better. We are not here to point at the incapabilities of someone, just to raise these questions.

If you are of the same opinion as we, then we expect that you will raise these questions wherever you are and expose the connections of the journalists, stories and awards so that the real spirit does not get marginalised in this largest democracy of the world.

Abhishek Srivastava


mineguruji said...

jouenalists are ready to sell their mothers for money and the owners of media are willing to do so even faster.

editindia said...

Good observation.

Bhavuk said...

What is your view on Sanskriti Awards. A mix of people have got it including some from NDTV like Purshottam and Radhika Bordia but that has not been advertised.

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