INFORMATION and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javdekar told journalists that the new government had no agenda for regulating media. “I would say the media should have a mechanism of “self-restraint”; I don’t even like the word ‘self-regulation’, the minister said when speaking at a the Press Club Mumbai’s National RedInk Awards on Saturday evening.

The I and B minister said the increasing attacks on journalists was a matter of concern and indicated that the Union Government is considering bringing in a Central Act to punish attacks on media professionals. He said the government is studying the impact of state laws against media attacks. “We will then look at the possibility of a central law,” he said.

The NDA government, he said, was fully committed to ensure full freedom of the Press. But there is nothing like absolute freedom and the society expects the media to be accurate, balanced and fair in its approach. In this context, he said he favoured self-restraint by the media, rather than the much talked about self-regulation.

He allayed apprehensions that the print medium will dwindle as the electronic medium grows. “Print medium will also grow with the rising literacy in the country.” he added.

Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, chief guest at the awards function, abandoned his prepared speech and had the audience in splits with his wit and sarcasm. Coming down heavily on NOTA (None of the above) as a vote option, he said: “In a democracy, NOTA have no place. It is nonsense. The person who does not go to vote expresses his feeling of NOTA anyway,” he said and pointed out that “It is a sheer waste of time for him (to go to the polling booth) and vote for NOTA.”

Admiring the popular 9 PM News Hour anchor Arnab Goswami, the governor said he did not mind the aggressive questioning. “It is necessary,” he said and called upon the younger generation to watch such shows and learn about current affairs.

“It is only four years since the RedInk Awards were instituted. The awards have already got national recognition. I congratulate the Press Club of Mumbai for setting very high standards of selection of the recipients of this award,” the Governor said.

Veteran Hindi journalist Mrinal Pande was felicitated with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” that honoured excellence in Indian Journalism.

The evening began with a sizzling and hard fought debate on: ‘Elections 2014: Were We Fair, Or Did We Stoke the NaMo Wave?’, moderated by Star India CEO Uday Shankar, and with veteran journalist Kumar Ketkar, Times Now Editor-In-Chief Arnab Goswami and CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai and Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman & National Creative Director Ogilvy & Mather India on the panel.

Rajdeep regretted that a section of the media promoted “Supari Journalism” and some journalists acted as Cheer Leaders during the election campaign by refusing to see beyond Modi. “We have lost the capability to look beyond (sensational) headlines,” he said. He said the media by making it a contest between Modi, a gifted organizer and natural orator, and Rahul Gandhi, who had no capabilities as a politician, made the elections a ‘no-contest’ game.

Arnab Goswami, while concurring that Modi had no competition, said: “But a section of the Delhi media tends to get too close to politicians thus affecting their reporting,” he said. For instance, it was like a sin to criticize Manmohan Singh in Delhi even during the height of various scams.

Kumar Ketkar said media pampered Modi and they stoked the NaMo wave by not reporting other important events and happenings.

Mrinal Pande, acknowledging award, felt that Hindi Media continues to play second fiddle to English Media. Hindi journalists should stop behaving like “outhouse boys”, shed inhibitions and develop self-confidence.

In other sections of the RedInk Awards, 10 panels of juries were constituted from among distinguished citizens, senior journalists and industry experts to judge over 800 entries in print, online and television entries. From this intense competition have emerged nearly 31 winners and runners-up who will receive cash prizes of Rs one lakh in each of the 14 competitive categories.

Fountain Ink was awarded the Best RedInk Start-Up award, the best start-up award has been instituted this year to recognize media initiatives that have performed well soon after launch. Fountain Ink – launched relatively recently in 2011 – has made a mark this year with your journalists winning a record four awards in the line-up today.

Star India was the Presenting Partner for The Press Club’s Redink Awards for Excellence in Journalism 2014.

The awards partners were Yes Bank, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Aditya Birla Group, Zee Entertainment, BSE, Eros International and Adani Group; Ideation and branding partners: Open-Design; communication partners are DNA, exchange4media, Adfactors PR and Zee Business.  The awards were supported by Hanmer MSL, Concept PR, Integral PR and Ranbakshi Communications

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