Award or Reward?

Award or Reward?

The Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) will be conferring awards for Life long Contribution to the field of Journalism and a Reporter of the year award to ‘outstanding journalists’. Categorization of approved newspapers and periodicals for the distribution of Government advertisements will also be a focus for the DIPR. There appears to be an element of farce and incongruity in these “new” suggestions and approaches. What do the appellations and Lifelong contribution and reporter of the year mean in the context of Kashmir? How will the DIPR gauge and judge either? Media and journalism, ideally, are a mirror and an echo chamber of a given society and polity. In the context of Kashmir, adhering to these ideal standards of journalism, will necessary go against certain narratives and even power structures. Will the DIPR reward this kind of journalism or will it pamper and mollycoddle those narratives that suit it? If recent history is any guide, then real journalism in Kashmir will attempted to be choked and space denied to it by obvious means and mechanisms and the “awards” will be given to blue eyed boys of journalism and media in Kashmir- that is those, who trot out the preferred narrative by the administration(s). Reward than award would be the appropriate appellations for the putative validation given by the DIPR. In a conflict zone like Kashmir, to iterate a cliché, it is the nature of the narrative that matters. Narrative , especially in conflict zones is so critical and important that political life can be said to flow from it. It then becomes a need for powers that be to control or direct this narrative in its favor. The awards, given past experience and even precedent, that this newspaper has become a victim of, then appear to be more in the nature of control and incentivizing that kind of journalism that is palatable to powers that be in Kashmir. In the final analysis, the best validation for good and incisive journalism, can only be given by the public whose interest prudent and sober journalism seeks to promote and articulate. State validation and “awards” or more accurately rewards can only lead to guilt by association and actually implicate journalism in the state’s narrative. The real need in Kashmir is honest, prudent and sober journalism whose remit and mandate should be public good and benefit and which serves as a mirror for society. This is an ideal that proves itself on a quotidian basis and which this newspaper is and will always remain wedded to.

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