Kochi, May 2: A hard-hitting news story about extreme poverty among Wayanad’s tribal communities has won journalist Sinoj Thomas the inaugural Aster Media Award for socially impactful reporting in Malayalam.The award, instituted by healthcare charity DM Foundation, carries a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh and recognizes journalists whose works help shape public awareness and drive action on socially relevant issues.
Mr. Thomas, a reporter with Manorama News television channel, was honoured for his story about a young tribal widow ,who manages to survive and feed her children with the left-over food from the school mid-day meal programme.
It was adjudged by the award jury as having had “wide-reaching impact”, “bust the myth about the absence of poverty in Kerala” and “resulted in action from the government as well as private citizens”.The winners this year were chosen by a jury chaired by Diplomat and Scholar Mr. Venu Rajamony, Press Secretary to the Hon’ble President of India.
The DM Foundation is a charitable Initiative ofDubai-based healthcare entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr Azad Moopen, the founder Chairman and Managing Director of Aster DM Healthcare, a leading private healthcare provider in GCC & India. It works with people from poor and deprived backgrounds globally; and has decided to annually honour media persons in India and the Gulf nations whose works have made visible positive impact on communities.
Mr Thomas has been chosen for the prize in the Regional category for journalists reporting in Malayalam language. The Aster Media Awards also recognise excellence in journalism at the National level (with a cash award of Rs 10 Lakh) and International reporting, specifically in GCC countries, with a purse of UAE Dirham(AED) 50,000.
The National winners, announced last week in New Delhi, include Manoj Sharma, Assistant Editor, Hindustan times (HT) and Sarika Malhotra, Senior Assistant Editor, Business today who share the Rs 10 Lakh prize; and Mr Aasheesh Sharma and Mr Asad Ali who have received a Special Mention.
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in New Delhi later this year.
Dr Azad Moopensaid it was the endeavour of the Foundation to recognise and applaud the efforts of the fourth estate. “Their hard work and impact on society often does not get due recognitionand their ability to trigger positive public action should always be encouraged. Icongratulate Sinoj and wish him the very best for the future,” he said.
Chairman of the jury Mr. Venu Rajamony said, “It was a very hard-hitting story which had a wide-reaching impact. It has brought to the fore the issues faced by the tribals and members of otherdisadvantaged sections of the society. The story resulted in a lot of positive action from differentstrata of the society.”
The award jury also included Ms. Shahnaz Pakravan, Founder – SP Productions, Dubai, former journalist with the BBC World and Britain’s Channel Four; Mr. Rajrishi Singhal, Senior Fellow – Geo-economics Studies, Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations; and Mr. Rahul Sharma, President – Rediffusion Communications, former journalist and public affairs expert.
Aster Media Awards – Winner of Regional Kerala Category
Profile of SinojThomas
Reporter, Manorama News
Based in Wayanad, Sinoj is a reporter with Manorama News and has been with the channel for close to two years. He holds a Master of Communication and Journalism (MCJ) with 2nd rank and a BA English Literature with Journalism and Film Studies from Kannur University.
His report “Vishappinte Vedana”, aired by Manorama News on 27th November 2015, is the story of a young tribal widow who manages to survive and feed her children with the left-over food from the school mid-day meal programme.
The story brought to notice the plight of the tribals and the disadvantaged sections of the society in Wayanad. Following the story, a lot of aid poured in for the widow including from Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, as well as popular actors Dileep and Jayasurya.