Politics and the Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize for feature photography in journalism for the year 2020 was awarded to three photographers in Bharat for the pictures that they took in the Kashmir Valley, soon after the abrogation of Article 370. Since the award is related to journalism, photography skills is one of the criteria for the award. However, I think, the message that the photograph is supposed to covey would be a much more important criteria.

A few years ago, a photograph that depicted an extremely starving child in Africa with a vulture standing some ten meters away, perhaps waiting for the child to die, got many awards. The image gave a powerful message of the horrible impact on children of the on-going civil war in the country where the event was captured.

In this year’s citation, the Pulitzer committee said: “For striking images of life in the contested territory of Kashmir as India revokes its independence, executed through a communication blackout.”

In acknowledging the award, the Associated Press president and CEO Gary Pruitt said, “Thanks to the team inside Kashmir, the world was able to witness a dramatic escalation of the long struggle for the region’s independence.”

So, the Associated Press says that the conflict in Kashmir valley is for ‘independence’. Perhaps that is why they submitted the photos to the Pulitzer committee as their entry for consideration. Similarly, the Pulitzer committee also accepts that the Kashmir Valley is an independent country. Are the three photographers also of a similar view? Did they set out to depict a reality as desired by their bosses at Associated Press?

Clearly there is a political agenda in giving out the awards, and not professional journalism. Such an agenda is nothing new, and has been the norm for decades. How it suits the purpose of a media outlet to be a biased informant is difficult to comprehend.

The appreciation of the award by many in Bharat, and not just the politicians, have the same insidious political agenda as that of Associated Press and the Pulitzer committee. Such people often talk about upholding the Constitution, but ignore it when it suits their agenda. Over the last two-three decades it has becomes abundantly clear that the people at large are no longer allowing themselves to be misled, and have started to express their opinion in whatever forum available to them. But the agenda-driven journalists, who are an integral part of the Khan Market Gang, still think that they rule what is called the narrative, even though it is based on complete falsehood.

A question should also be asked of the three photographers: Do you agree with what your boss at Associated Press has said, and also the citation, that the revocation of Article 370 has taken away the ‘independence’ of the Kashmir Valley? If you do not, then surely you should reject the award, no?

Postscript

For information on the photos chosen, please see: https://www.youtube.com/watch v=CSdoRImcxko

It would seem that Pulitzer committee has changed the citation to read: “For striking images captured during a communication blackout in Kashmir depicting life in the contested territory after India stripped it of its semi-autonomy.” This type of chicanery reinforces the belief that the committee, at least in case of the photos related to the Kashmir Valley, went about its task with a political agenda. In any case, the statement by Pruitt clearly shows the intent in submitting their entries.

Finally, by the time the awards were announced, all the doomsday projections in the early stages post-revocation of Article 370 have been proved false.


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About the Author

Ashok Chowgule
Working President (External), Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bharat.