The International Press Institute’s Indian National Committee has named Ritika Chopra, Senior Assistant Editor, The Indian Express, as the recipient of IPI’s India Award for Excellence in Journalism 2020. This is the fifth IPI India award for The Indian Express or its journalists since it was launched in 2003.
Chopra was selected, IPI said Wednesday, for her “exclusive reports on the working of the Election Commission during the 2019 Lok Sabha election which exposed the divide in the Commission and the unusual tardiness when it came to dealing with poll code violations”.
The IPI added, “the Jury noted that Ritika Chopra had investigated the issue diligently relying on documentation of the cases involved, and by verifying the proceedings and meetings of the Commission, thereby highlighting an important issue involving free and fair conduct of democratic elections”.
Chopra’s reporting revealed how the Election Commission was divided in its response to complaints alleging poll code violations including those related to speeches by the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then BJP president Amit Shah. And how one of the three Election Commissioners, on at least five occasions, had opposed the all-clear given to them.
The selection for the award was made by a jury of editors headed by Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney-General of India.
The Indian Express has won the IPI India award four times in the past, including the inaugural award in 2003. The first award was for the newspaper’s sustained coverage of the 2002 Gujarat riots. In 2006, the newspaper won its second IPI award for its investigation into how crores meant for the victims of the Bihar floods in 2005 were siphoned off by politicians and other officials; and the disappearance of the tigers from national parks across the country.
The Indian Express received its third IPI India Award in 2009 for its investigations into the links of alleged Hindu extremists with terror attacks in Malegaon in 2006 and Modasa in 2008. A journalist with The Week had also won the award in 2009 for her coverage of sexual and other traumas suffered by widows of farmers in Maharashtra.
In 2018, Ritu Sarin, Executive Editor ( Investigations), The Indian Express, got the IPI India Award for her “sustained work in investigation of crimes, political assassinations, terrorism cases frauds and economic offences.”
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh, along with a trophy and a citation.
The International Press Institute was founded 68 years ago in New York by a group of editors from 15 countries. Now based in Vienna, the IPI is “committed to promotion of free exchange of accurate and balanced news among nations” and has “been in the forefront of safeguarding the freedom of press”.