Death Knell For Democracy If Media Falters

Death Knell For Democracy If Media Falters

Justice Srikrishna Asks Scribes To Speak The Truth

Media under increasing attack, say speakers at RedInk Awards

MUMBAI, Dec 17 (The CONNECT) - If journalism as a profession falters, democracy will collapse, warned eminent jurist BN Srikrishna.

Speaking at the RedInk Awards organised by Mumbai Press Club on Friday night, justice Srikrishna urged journalists to: “Speak the truth to the powers that be”. There are two professions – the judge and the journalist who have to side by the truth. If they falter, democracy will collapse, he observed.

The retired Supreme Court judge, who has headed several investigation panels, including the Inquiry Commission for the Mumbai 1992-93 riots, said, “We all know about the four pillars of democracy….judiciary, legislature executive and the press or the fourth estate…if the first three cozy up, it’s the duty of the fourth estate to take them to task”.

Justice Srikrishna recalled the days of Emergency and agreed that investigative agencies are being misused in the current times. “People spoke of threats like that from ED, CBI…surveillance, cutting off revenue to see that businesses collapse,” he added: “In such a situation, honesty is the best policy, and journalistic conscience.”

At the glittering ceremony at NCPA’s Jamshed Bhaba Hall in South Mumbai, as many as 26 journalists from all over the country received their RedInk Awards for categories ranging from political writing and environment to healthcare and business.

Award recipients included Om Gaur, National Editor of ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ who bagged the ‘Journalist of the Year’ Award for leading a team of reporters and photographers that tirelessly exposed the tragedy of Covid deaths in UP’s towns and cities along the River Ganga. Eminent journalist and author T J S George was presented with the coveted National RedInk Award for ‘Lifetime Achievement.’

Earlier, at a riveting debate on: 'Is There a Future for Independent News Media?' former Mumbai Police chief M.N. Singh, well-known criminal lawyer Satish Maneshinde, and veteran advertising executive Meenakshi Menon discussed whether the media was facing “an undeclared Emergency.” 

M N Singh, the cop who oversaw the investigation in the Mumbai blast case, said that he does not think India has become unsafe for journalists. He, however, conceded that many stringent laws, including the one on sedition, are now being used against journalists, which should not happen.

Maneshinde said that he had seen the Press since the emergency. “The charge of sedition had been a handle used by governments against the press.” He lamented that the ranks of the “committed press” – the media that supported the government’s voice – had grown over the years, leaving very little space for the “critical press.”

Calling a spade a spade, Menon said: “Things are different now. Media now is neither free nor fearless. There are cases against journalists and arrests. She said the main weapon to bring the news media to heel is stopping the revenue from government advertising. “The revenue tap is being shut,” she said, referring to the government ads being refused to media organizations who spoke against the establishment.

Setting the ball rolling, Mumbai Press Club Chairman Gurbir Singh, the head of the RedInk Awards Committee, flagged the increasing attacks and detention faced by journalists. Quoting the latest Freedom of Press Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), he said India had sunk eight notches to 150th position this year from 142 last year. “India is also seen as a very dangerous place for journalism with 3-4 journos being killed every year, according to the report,” he said. 

In his welcome address, Gurbir Singh pointed out: “Hundreds of media professionals have lost their jobs in the past three years, and we have seen smaller companies being taken over by bigger ones…the time is not very far when perhaps the two A’s would control the media,” he said. 

The title sponsor for RedInk Awards 2022 is Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL), while Adani Group and Concept Communication are the gold sponsors. Indiabulls Housing, Aditya Birla Group, L&T Financial Services, Adfactors PR, Viacom18, and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals are associate sponsors.



T. J. S. George  

 JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR - Om Gaur, Dainik Bhaskar Group receiving the award


BUSINESS & ECONOMY               

Print/Online: Anu Abraham, Mathrubhumi

Television/Video: Sonali Shinde, SAAM TV


Print/Online : Angana Chakrabarti, The Print

Television/Video: Anurag Dwary, NDTV


Print/Online: Jane Borges, Mid-DayENVIRONMENT         

Print/Online: Sushmita, The Caravan

Television/Video: Tridip Kanti Mandal & Dominic Savio Diengdoh, The Quint              

HEALTH & WELLNESS                 

Print/Online, Aatreyee Dhar, Down to Earth

Television/Video, Barkha Dutt, Mojo Story


Print/Online, Kirti Dubey, BBC World

Television/Video, Aravind Venugopal, Malayala Manorama Online


Print/Online - Joint Winners     

Vaibhav Walunj , Indie Journal

Siddharth Varadarajan, The Wire

Television/Video: Jugal Purohit, BBC News Hindi


Print/Online, Karishma Mehrotra, Scroll. in


Print/Online, Bhavya Dore, Mint Lounge

Television/Video, Vandna, BBC News Hindi

THE ARTS          

Print/Online: Vinay Aravind, Fifty-Two

Television/Video: Namdev Anant Katkar, BBC World

The BIG PICTURE (Photo of the Year)

Winner: T P Sooraj, The New Indian Express

Runner up, Jinse Michael, Malayala Manorama


Print/Online: Sukanya Shanth, The Wire

Television/Video: Aishwarya S Iyer, The Quint

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