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IPI announces recipients of annual award

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA - The Week correspondent, Bidisha Ghosal, and the English-language daily Indian Express are the joint winners of the 2009 Award for Excellence in Journalism, presented by the Indian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI). The award ceremony will take place in December.

"IPI congratulates the recipients of the IPI-India award on their important achievement," said IPI Deputy Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. "We also express our gratitude to the IPI Indian National Committee for their initiative in establishing this award, which encourages Indian journalists to professionally raise awareness about vital issues affecting their country.

"In addition," she added, "journalism that is of the highest calibre is a critical tool in fighting against assaults on press freedom."

The award, which carries a cash prize of 100,000 Indian rupees (approximately 2,160 US$) as well as a trophy and a citation for each of the awardees, was established in 2003 to honour exceptional work done by Indian media organizations or journalists.

The jury selected Bidisha Ghosal for her sensitive reports on the exploitation of the widows of farmers in Maharashtra. The Indian Express was selected for its unrelenting investigation into the involvement of an extremist group behind the Malegaon and Modasa terror attacks in 2008.

"IPI India through its award has highlighted two outstanding examples of journalism that through painstaking investigation and a sensitive approach have advanced public policy debates," said IPI board member, Mr. N. Ravi, editor of The Hindu.

"Bidisha Ghosal's portrayal of the plight of the widows of farmers who had committed suicide, unable to bear the burden of debt, focused public attention on an issue that had remained hidden; and the Indian Express's sustained and thoroughgoing investigation of terrorist attacks in Malegaon helped the public to come to an understanding of the plot in its entirety.

"These are the kind of stories that help shore up public sentiment in support of free speech, and in particular of independent journalism," said Ravi, who is also the IPI India National Committee chairperson and a member of the jury that selected the award recipients.

The jury is headed by Justice Dr. AS Anand, former chief justice of India and former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission. Other members include IPI Fellow Mr. Philip Mathew, managing editor of the daily Malayala Manorama; Mr. MK Razdan, editor-in-chief of the Press Trust of India news agency; and Mr. TN Ninan, editor-in-chief of the Business Standard.

This is the third time since 2003 that The Indian Express has received the IPI-India award. Other recipients of previous years include NDTV and Outlook.

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