P Sainath, journalist and founder of People’s Rural Archive of India, refused the YSR Lifetime Achievement Award, announced by the Andhra Pradesh state government yesterday.
He has posted a series of tweets about his refusal to accept awards from governments.
“Journalists should not accept awards from governments they cover or critique. If the external auditor of a venture you were invested in was accepting the company’s awards, you would be furious. The journalist is an external auditor to government,” P Sainath tweets.
“In this respect, journalists are different from musicians, artists, sportspersons, and some other groups. Unlike journalists, those other groups are not likely to be subsequently called upon to scrutinize the government’s functioning.”
“The point of non-acceptance is less about governments and more about the personal and professional ethical protocols of the journalist. I do not seek to impose mine on other journalists – others who choose to accept state awards have a right to do so.”
“But it is on this belief – that independent journalists should not accept awards from governments they could be covering or critiquing tomorrow – that I must respectfully decline the YSR Lifetime Achievement Award from the Andhra Pradesh government.”