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“It has become fashionable to say news channels work for TRPs and money”

Staff Reporter

Chameli Devi Award conferred on The Hindu correspondent

Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Laxmi Jain, founder of The Media Foundation, after presenting the Chameli Devi Jain award for excellence in journalism to Vinita Deshmukh (centre) in New Delhi on Friday. Nirupama Subramanian, The Hindu’s Islamabad correspondent shared the award. Her sister, Vasudha Sondhi (right), received it on her behalf. —

NEW DELHI: The Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Mediaperson for 2008 was conferred on Nirupama Subramanian, Islamabad correspondent of The Hindu, and Vinita Deshmukh, Editor of Intelligent Pune, here on Friday.

The award was presented by Laxmi Jain, who has constituted the award in his mother’s name. Ms. Subramanian’s sister Vasudha Sondhi received the award on her behalf.

The jury comprised Prof. Nirija Gopal Jayal of the Centre for Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Bhaskar Ghose, former Chief Executive Officer of Lok Sabha TV; and Raj Chengappa, associate editor of India Today.

Of the several entries, Ms. Subramanian was selected for her dedication to responsible journalism in complex and delicate environments.

The citation read out by Mr. Ghose noted: “It requires special skill to be a foreign correspondent. It is clearly an especially challenging task for an Indian correspondent in Pakistan, an assignment that Nirupama Subramanian has carried out with aplomb through three most turbulent years.

“Nirupama’s reporting has been consistently first-rate, analytical and offering balanced perspectives. Her coverage has ranged from reclaiming the Pushtun love for music to oppressive blasphemy laws, trade, the sliding economy and PoK’s interest in cross-border trade to stimulate economic progress on its side.”

Ms. Deshmukh has been awarded for her campaigns that have been marked by grit and perseverance in the pursuit of truth and public welfare.

In her response to the honour, as read out by her sister, Ms. Subramanian remembered Anil Mazumdar, the editor of Aaji newspaper in Guwahati, shot dead on the same day this award was announced.

“In Pakistan, where I am based, a number of journalists have lost their lives in recent months. For me, reading about journalists getting killed back home, three in Assam in the last four months, is a reminder that despite our democracy, our freedoms are as fragile as they are in our less stable neighbourhood.

“On the other hand, I also saw the power and influence of the media in a frightening close-up a few months ago, when tensions between India and Pakistan climbed a peak after the attacks in Mumbai…I believe there is only one way for journalists to look at India-Pakistan relations, and that is through the prism of peace…”

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on “Matching Television’s Growing Power with Corresponding Responsibility.”

Media critic Shailaja Bajpai, who was moderating the discussion, pointed out how after the coverage of the Aarushi murder case and 26/11 Mumbai attacks, news channels were being accused of sensationalising things.

Ashutosh, editor of Hindi channel IBN-7, said it was important to have a neutral mind to understand the role of television.

“Some Hindi channels have done tremendous work. It has become fashionable to say that news channels work for TRPs and money. Which industry does not work for money and profit?” he asked.

Phil Reeves of the U.S. National Public Radio said journalists need to be vigilant on their own as “regulation can’t come from the government and has to come from the profession itself.”

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