The senior editor of News18 Tamil Nadu, M Gunasekaran became the first Tamil television journalist to win Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for regional journalism. He picked up the award for his ground reports on the fisherfolk in Kanyakumari during Cyclone Ockhi in 2017.
M Gunasekaran won the award for outstanding work to bring out the situation among the fisherfolk in the south Indian town of Kanyakumari during cyclone Ockhi, which caused extensive damage in the southern tip of mainland India.
Cyclone Ockhi was one of the most destructive cyclones to hit India. According to a report submitted in Parliament in January 2018, the cyclone killed 30 people across Tamil Nadu and caused widespread damage to houses, fishing boats and crops. More than 200 fishermen in Tamil Nadu were reported missing.
Gunasekaran and his team produced a one-hour documentary on the damages caused by the cyclone and the misery of the fisherfolk in the region. His programme named ‘Kaalathin Kural’ brought out the despair of the people in the affected areas and his live telecast of the ground realities after the disaster also earned him accolades.
The award consisted of a citation and Rs 1 lakh cash.
The Ramnath Goenka awards are given to journalists to appreciate their brave, dedicated contribution to the field. The award is given in multiple categories like reportage from Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, Business and Economic Journalism, environmental, political, sports, investigative reporting etc.
The awards ceremony for the year 2017 was held on January 4, 2019 in which Home Minister Rajnath Singh was the chief guest. He presented the awards to 29 winners in 18 categories across media platforms – print, broadcast and digital.
Other journalists from Tamil Nadu who were conferred with the recognition were S Vijay Kumar from The Hindu for his reports on how taxmen alerted officials about payoffs in Tamil Nadu’s Gutkha scam and Sandhya Ravishankar for her reportage on illegal beach sand mining in Tamil Nadu.