KOCHI: The first-ever Leela Menon Awards were given to deserving journalists at the 22nd Kochi International Book Festival (KIBF) underway at the Ernakulathappan Ground on Monday. Former assistant editor of The New Indian Express P Venugopal received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the function from veteran journalist V P Ramachandran. Geethu Thambi (reporter, Suprabhatham), Arun Kodungallur (reporter, Janam TV) and P Sasikanth (cameraman, Amrita TV) were also awarded.
UDF convenor Benny Behanan, the chief guest, said instances of restricting media were on the rise at present. “The media doesn’t merely provide us with pieces of information, but analyse it and report the events in detail. The administration and court should not restrict the media. Criticising events and people is part of their duty and should not be scorned upon,” Behanan said. The emergence of social media, which can be considered the Fifth Estate, is replete with negativity. The media and media persons have the power to make it positive, Behanan said. Ramachandran said he was ecstatic to be the first person to give away the Leela Menon awards. “Leela Menon was a bold lady who portrayed the relevance of women in journalism long ago. She reported with courage and confidence,” he said.
Venugopal said Leela Menon could be regarded as the ‘Jhansi Ki Rani’ (Queen of Jhansi) of Journalism in Kerala. Lensman Arun Angela, who received the photography award for the picture he took during the Kerala floods, said the snapshot represented the shattered lives of people at Kuttanad.“One cannot always be objective while practising journalism. Though the man in the photograph was reluctant, the picture was clicked to make more people know about the situation,” Arun said.
KIBF convenor T Satisan, J Vinodkumar and other awardees also spoke.