Out of 24 newspapers in 9 languages, only three consider Ravish Kumar’s Magsaysay Award worthy of proper front-page display. George Orwell, also born in Motihari, would be convinced that “Big Brother is watching you”.

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?

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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.

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Only two others, the Marathi daily Sakal (five column, bottom anchor) and the Kannada daily Praja Vani (two column, above the fold), have a multi-column front page display announcing the award.

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Three newspapers have a single column, self-contained news item on page one: Orissa Post,  Maharashtra Times (Marathi), and Prabhat Khabar (Hindi).

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Four newspapers have a front-page pointer to the news inside: The Times of IndiaThe Pioneer, Deccan Chronicle, and Sakshi (Telugu).

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But an astonishing 14 newspapers have nothing on page one, neither a pointer nor a news item: Hindustan TimesThe Indian Express, The Telegraph, The New Indian Express, Deccan Herald, Dainik Jagran (Hindi), Dainik Bhaskar (Hindi), Navbharat Times (Hindi), Eenadu (Telugu), Sandesh (Gujarati), Ei Samay (Bengali), Dinakaran (Tamil), Malayala Manorama (Malayalam), Mathrubhumi (Malayalam).

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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.

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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.

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2 Comments

  1. Vidya

    It is surprising that the Indian Express did not give prominent coverage to the news of Ravish Kumar bagging the Magsaysay award because Kumar has always widely quoted news from the IE in many of his Facebook posts and even translated them for the Hindi readers thereby increasing the visibility of the paper’s news and correspondents.

  2. Raj kumar

    Ravish Kumar ji is true journalist.

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