Declaring he was among the most trolled journalists in India, 2019 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Ravish Kumar came to the Philippines feted like a hero. He visited GMA Network two days after the awarding ceremony to interact with GMA journalists and give them fair warning that the populist authoritarian wave sweeping the world was far from over, and that journalists needed to stand their ground in the face of threats and the spread of fake news.
He stressed to a mixed GMA audience of anchors, news and public affairs program managers, online editors and TV producers that his show in India has proven that one can rate and appeal to a large audience with serious, relevant content. His interview program features subjects many mainstream shows and stations in India shy away from, including minorities, lower-caste people and even the repulsive livelihood of septic cleaning (or “manual scavenging”) that few others would cover. Kumar himself is known for tough questioning, at a time when many journalists in his country, he says, are trying to curry favor with the government. Government officials have reacted by boycotting his show. In an extraordinarily brave act, Kumar wrote an open letter to their Prime Minister Narendra Modi, denouncing the death threats against Kumar by government supporters.
The Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation selected Kumar for his “unfaltering commitment to a professional, ethical journalism of the highest standards; his moral courage in standing up for truth, integrity and independence; and his principled belief that it is in giving full and respectful voice to the voiceless, that journalism fulfills its noblest aims to advance democracy.”
The discussion with Kumar was facilitated by documentarist Howie Severino, who is also the GMA Vice President for Professional Development. Also present were GMA Assistant Vice President for News and Public Affairs Digital Media Jaemark Tordecilla and Kapuso journalists Atom Araullo, Dano Tingcungco, Raffy Tima and Mariz Umali, together with Queenie Dimapawi, Patty Gutierrez, Raffy Jimenez and Lou Albano.
Kumar is currently the managing editor at New Delhi Television Network.