Stories behind the story


From tracking down a rebel leader in the North-east to reporting on the water wars of Bundelkhand, the third Ramnath Goenka Awards for Excellence in Journalism (2007-2008) recognised real stories that were waiting to be told. The winners and their prize stories

P. Sainath

The Hindu

Journalist of the Year (Print)

During the Lakme Fashion Week, 2006, when many a pen was busy recording every costume ruche and ramp twirl, P. Sainath was doing a head count. "While the Lakme Fashion Week was on, farmers were committing suicide in Vidarbha, Maharashtra, to the tune of seven a day. Yet, there were all of six journalists covering Vidarbha in the mainstream press, while there were 512 covering the Fashion Week. The theme of the Fashion Week was cotton; yet within that time frame, nearly 50 cotton farmers killed themselves," Sainath says. The facts led him to write a news series on the agrarian crisis that made the world sit up and take notice. His work on rural issues over 2007-08 earned him the award. His next series tracks the migration of those who have lost their jobs. "The stories are out there," he says. "We just have to resist scoop logic."

Dnyanesh V Jathar

The Week

Reporting on HIV/AIDS (Print, english)

The story of AIDS orphans was close to Jathar's heart. Coming from rural Maharashtra, he was keen to tell the stories of these abandoned children. "I come from Sangli district and an NGO there has 700 children who have been orphaned due to AIDS. People who run the NGO sometimes take leftovers meant for animals and feed it to their children," he says. People reporting on health issues, especially HIV/AIDS, usually focus on the stereotypes, he says. "Most reports talk about the problems faced by commercial sex workers and trouble in getting treated. But the human face of any disease are the women and children. Children are helpless and suffer for no fault of theirs," he says. For his story, Jathar travelled in rural Maharashtra for a month. "Most of my case studies have come from rural areas and compared to cities, the effect of any disease or epidemic is magnified there," he says.

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