Jose Kavi was instrumental in professionalizing Church journalism in India
Jose Kavi speaks at the Indian Catholic Press Association award ceremony in Kochi on Sept. 23. (Photo: Supplied)
The Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) honored three journalists for their outstanding contribution to journalism at its diamond jubilee celebrations, which concluded on Sept. 23.
Jose Kavi, founder-editor of Matters India, an online news portal, was given the Father Louis Careno Award for excellence in journalism at the three-day event in southern Kerala state.
Kavi launched Matters India 11 years ago after a quarter-century stint with the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN).
Sister Robancy Helan was conferred with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Award for best reportage at the event held at Ashirbhavan, the pastoral center of Verapoly archdiocese, in Ernakulam district.
The Swamy Devenanda Chakkungal Award, instituted by the Divine Word Congregation, went to Joseph Gathia for his contributions to Hindi literature and language, spoken by a large section of Indians in northern India.
Kavi “played a crucial role in professionalizing Church-based news agencies in India, especially at a time when nobody knew the future of digital media,” ICPA president Ignatius Gonsalves, said.
Kavi was instrumental in training more than 250 media professionals and professionalizing Church journalism in India.
Many of them approached Kavi to do “real journalism,” said one media person (name withheld on request) who worked with Kavi.
Speaking about his 41-year journalism career, Kavi told the audience, “While I owe my gratitude to several people for my growth as a professional journalist in Christian journalism, it was my wife who advised me to take it as a mission rather than a job.”
Recalling his ties with Father Bob Astorino, founder director of UCAN, Kavi thanked the Maryknoll priest who told him to “go out and dirty [your] hands to tell stories that smell people."
Hailing from southern Tamil Nadu, Sister Helan’s reports dealt with burning issues faced by Christians from the lower strata of society. Called Dalits, these former untouchables make up nearly 60 percent of India’s 26 million Christians.
However, due to their past association with caste-ridden Hinduism, they are discriminated against throughout their life. Their conversion to Christianity has hardly improved their social and cultural status.
Her reports, also highlighting the plight of Dalit Christian women, appeared in many international publications, including the Global Sisters Report.
Sister Helan from the Messengers of Mary of Magnificat congregation “did a great job in highlighting the plight of Dalits who face discrimination,” the ICPA said at the event.
“Journalists are called to speak truth to the powerless against the powers-that-be,” said Justice Devan Ramachandran of the Kerala High Court, addressing the gathering.
Let “the people in power know the truth they want to conceal,” Justice Ramachandran said.
India’s media freedom ranking has been falling steadily in an uninterrupted manner for the last nine years. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organization, has called the South Asian nation one of the most “dangerous” places for journalists to work.
Justice Ramachandran urged media persons “to introspect and find out if they are active in pursuing the truth.”
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