How much pride does Indian news media have in one of its own—Ravish Kumar of NDTV India—winnning the 2019 Magsaysay Award for “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless”?
Surely, it is front-page news given the spate of bad news dogging the industry?
Surely, it is the kind of feel-good stories owners and managers believe readers are dying to read?
Surely, it is an achievement that the anchor of an almost-invisible Hindi TV news channel has trumped the rest of his fraternity with his heart in the right place, without inciting the masses, without inflaming passions, without fabricating news?
Astonishing only one of 24 newspapers surveyed—the Kannada daily Vartha Bharti published from Mangalore (above)—gives Ravish Kumar bagging the award the pride of place, making it the lead story.
Obviously, Ravish Kumar is a figure known mostly to Hindi audiences, and it can be argued that there is no “carry” for him in non-Hindi “markets”. But if non-Hindi newspapers like Vartha Bharati, Praja Vani and Sakal see “value”, why not the rest?
Obviously, also, there is an element of competition here. Many of the newspapers also own TV stations, and Ravish Kumar’s achievement hits where it hurts most. But, at the end of the day, bagging the Magsaysay Award, even if given by a private organisation, is a “national” achievement?
Especially, when the last Indian journalist to get it was the cartoonist R.K. Laxman of The Times of India—35 years ago.
Ravish Kumar was born in Motihari in Bihar.
Coincidentally, it was also the birth place of George Orwell, the author of the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-four, who coined the fictional character “Big Brother”.
Orwell would be convinced “Big Brother is watching you” looking at the feeble, unenthusiastic coverage of his townsman’s feat by his members of his own fraternity.