Fake Journalsim Awards: Abhishek Srivastava

When we talk of journalism, journalistic activism, media's socialresponsibility and accountability, let's never forget about thejournalism awards which are being given anually in the name of manyrenowned journalists, sponsored by big press lords like The Indian Express and by the Indian government's agencies like publications division and others. These awards are in the sense of utmost importance as they try to create role models in our society for theupcoming journalists who aspire to get these awards in the future.This topic will prove to be a bone of contention between many. It will create a large number of foes rather than friends, but this cannot be avoided to be mentioned in the public domain.

Last week, a prestigious journalism award was given in theFICCI auditorium. We all know that the award which is being given inthe name of deceased journalist Udayan Sharma is of great value notonly in terms of the amount, it attracts almost all the media peoplein Delhi every year in its function. So I was also there as I was lastyear in Teenmurti Bhawan. I with most of my journalist friends wasexpecting good names to come out this year for these awards, butshockingly 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 alreadyget to know the names, so no point in avoiding them.The first award for journalism and photography was given to the Sikarreporter of Rajasthan Patrika and its photographer. To cut short, let me tell you that Rajasthan Patrika group had donated Rs. One Lakh to theUdayan Sharma Foundation recently. It's very easy to connect these two incidents.

Now the special awards for journalism were given to two ofmy aquaintances...first to Sanjay Verma of Navbharat Times and theother to Archana Rajhans of Janmat TV. (Sanjay Verma is there asAssistant Editor for a long time but Archana has joined Janmatrecently as a Copy Editor and this is her first job. She has recentlycompleted her diploma in journalism from Guru Jambeshwar University,Hissar by correspondence.) Sanjay was awarded because he had done astory on the Googles's website Google Earth. This was not a veryoriginal report as many of us know about this website from a longtime, just to write about it and pose it as a danger to nationalsecurity does not invite an award of this stature.Archana was givenaward for her coverstory in Jansatta...I don't know which one. She hasdone some coverstories on Khabar Laharia, role of women in villagepanchayats and community radio.

To cut short, the community radiomatter was copied from an academic book, village panchayat matter wastaken from Charkha and rest...you 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 lastyear...this was justified as he has done lot of grassroot writing inthe last ten years or more and he deserved it. But then, how comeArchana Rajhans fit into the criterion? The same question for SanjayVerma who regularly writes Pustak Parichay in Navbharat Times andarticles by the name Sanjay Verma "Uday" in different dailies bycopying from internet and translating them. Is this journalism? HasArchana visited any of the village panchayats, has she done reportingat 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 AajTak (previously NBT) and Mr. Rahul Dev (related to Janmat) is not aneasy one to have a ride on. Then did they inquire about thecredentials 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 oncequoted by Anamika in one of her reviews in Jansatta on Rajkishor'spoetry "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 cover storyon the role of women in the village panchayats bylined Prasoon Latant.

Sources revealed that this story was also planted just for the sake ofgrabbing the same award, bur Prasoon ji missed by a whisker. The lastdate of publishing the story was July 15th but unfortunately it gotpublished on the 16th i.e. today. I think he will use this story forthe award next year.

The whole equation of getting published by strategically copying andplanting the story does not end here only. One of my freelancerfriends had done a column in the last issue of India Today named"Srijan Samwad" on Asgar Wazahat. Why? He had an interview on 14thi.e. day before yesterday in Jamia for M.Phil. He is expecting to getselected. Many of these creatures are continously in search of gettingbenefits from their planted stories and I know them, but I think thesenames will suffice. The rest you people know about the Alok Mehtacase. He was called in Shruti program of NSD to read excerpts from hisnew novel...after some days Devendra Raj Ankur got a column in OutlookHindi. You can easily trace this type of Give And Take instances inthe Delhi media circle, no one speaks about these things and workingin 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 socalled fourth estate in our country? This is true that awards do notdecide the journalistic and writing capabilities of a person, but atleast they are a recognisation of good work being done in the media.

Has someone wondered why Ramnath Goenka award always goes to thereporters of Express group and NDTV? Why Kanchana Smriti Award wentto the reporter of Jansatta Pratibha Shukla? People who know thecredentials and capabilities of Pratibha can explain better. We arenot here to point at the incapabilities of someone, just to raisethese questions.

If you are of the same opinion as we, then we expect that you willraise these questions wherever you are and expose the connections ofthe journalists, stories and awards so that the real spirit does notget marginalised in this largest democracy of the world.

Abhishek Srivastava

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