This is an edited excerpt from a keynote address delivered at Stanford University, on 10 October, while accepting the 2023 Shorenstein Journalism Award on behalf of The Caravan.
I know that I speak against the backdrop of the horrors unfolding in Israel and Gaza. At such a time, there is little reason to stress the importance of journalism. Our views, our knowledge, our opinions, even our sense of what is happening there, are being shaped by journalism. At times of crisis, journalism becomes a fundamental tool for understanding the world, so much so that we forget that there are other aspects to journalism as well. I think that one of the chief tasks of journalism is to warn us of the perils that lie ahead, of the tragedies that await us. And I want to invoke this task of journalism to talk about perils that have already unfolded in India but are not completely realised outside the country.
I want to begin by thanking the Shorenstein Center for the award. The names that have preceded us give us a good sense of the honour that has been bestowed upon us. I deliberately use the term “us” because I stand here as representative of an institution, The Caravan. Journalism is often seen as the work of individuals, with reporters breaking stories and columnists writing opinions and anchors holding forth, but, in the end, it is an activity sustained by institutions that are committed to certain values. Without such institutions, journalism does not survive. The Caravan is one such institution. The values that we are committed to are rigour, veracity and a commitment to examine the exercise of power by whoever possesses it.