New Delhi: Journalist Ravish Kumar has been awarded the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award for “harnessing journalism to give voice to the voiceless”. Kumar is among the five recipients of this award, which is regarded as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize.
Forty-four-year-old Kumar, NDTV India’s senior executive editor, is among the country’s most influential TV journalists, the award citation said. “If you have become the voice of the people, you are a journalist,” the citation says.
According to an NDTV report, the citation further describes Kumar as a sober, incisive and well-informed anchor who has been highly vocal on insisting that the professional values of balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice.
— Ramon Magsaysay Award (@MagsaysayAward) August 2, 2019
Kumar, born in Jitwarpur village in Bihar, joined NDTV in 1996 and worked his way up from being a field reporter.
After NDTV launched its 24-hour Hindi-language news channel – NDTV India – targeting the country’s 422 million native speakers of Hindi, he was given his own daily show, ‘Prime Time.’
The citation says Kumar’s ‘Prime Time’ programme deals with real-life, under-reported problems of ordinary people. “Striving for a people-based journalism, he calls his newsroom ‘the people’s newsroom’. He is most vocal on insisting that the professional values of sober, balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice,” it reportedly says.
His more important distinction, however, comes from the kind of journalism he represents, the citation added.
“In a media environment threatened by an interventionist state, toxic with jingoist partisans, trolls and purveyors of ‘fake news,’ and where the competition for market ratings has put the premium on ‘media personalities,’ ‘tabloidisation’ and audience-pandering sensationalism, Ravish has been most vocal on insisting that the professional values of sober, balanced, fact-based reporting be upheld in practice,” it said.
His programme takes up current social issues; does serious background research; and presents issues in well-rounded discussions.
Kumar interacts easily with the poor, travels extensively, and uses social media to stay in touch with the audience, generating from them the stories for the programme.
In electing Kumar to receive the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognises his unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity, and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, in speaking truth bravely yet soberly to power, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy, the award citation said.
The four other winners of the 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Award are Ko Swe Win from Myanmar, Angkhana Neelapaijit from Thailand, Raymundo Pujante Cayabyab from Philippines and Kim Jong-Ki from South Korea.
Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honour. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organisations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.
(With PTI inputs)