Updated: September 16, 2019 05:56 AM GMT
Indian television journalist Ravish Kumar is one of this year's recipients for the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his commitment to a "professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards." (Photo by Mark Saludes)
In the age of instant information via social media, an Indian journalist has been working to create a "space for ethical journalism" in the so-called mainstream media.For his "people-centered reporting," Ravish Kumar of India's New Delhi Television Network has been named one of this year's recipients of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, "Asia’s Nobel Prize."Raised in Jitwarpur, a village in Bihar, northeast India, Kumar pursued his early interest in history and public affairs through postgraduate studies in history at Delhi University.
Threats to media
Being a journalist in India today is not easy.
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index released by the group Reporters Without Borders notes that Indian journalists are being attacked online as well as in the field.
No space for good journalismKumar said corporate houses, which own most news services in India, have become propaganda machines of the government. "They are sacking good journalists who are not writing propaganda," he said.There are more than 800 television news channels in India with about 900 private satellite television stations operating, half of which devote their time to news coverage.Added to these are 17,000 newspaper titles with a circulation of more than 400 million. As of March 2019, there were 560 million internet users in India, the second largest number in the world after China.Kumar said whatever is going on in media space is controlled by big businesses with "very less space left for real journalism."He said that in the past news channels that broadcast racism did not get advertising. "Now, the more racist you are, the more advertisements you get," he said."There is ample space to say anything that suits the government but there is less space for truth-telling," he said.
Media watchdogs have been warning against increasing violence committed against journalists in India. Journalists who openly criticized the government lost their jobs.Kumar said there are many good journalists in India but their influence in mainstream media has shrunk in recent years. "Today, they are on Twitter," said Kumar. "They spend their time on social media to criticize and question everything," he said because good journalists receive no support and are even attacked.He warned that the media industry will not survive "unless we reform mainstream media."Kumar said there is still hope and a lot of reasons for journalists to continue but they should strive to create a "space for journalism that puts service to the people at its center." He said journalists have a duty to tell the public that the media has been hijacked by people in power.In awarding Kumar the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the award panel body recognized his "unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards."
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