Join SAJA for its first event of 2017! 

Join SAJA for our first Chai Chat of 2017 on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in New York City. Reconnect with friends, old and new, and network with colleagues as we discuss the outlook for journalism, trends in the industry, and how we can strengthen our community in the new year. The event is free and open to all. Details and RSVP here:


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Our volunteer national executive board is the backbone of the South Asian Journalists Association. This non-profit journalism organization would not exist without the 11-person team of journalists and professionals, all dedicating their time to hosting events, workshops, newsroom tours and managing our scholarships, fellowships, internship fund and annual journalism awards and dinner.


SAJA welcomes new board and executive committee

Current SAJA board members at our first meeting of 2017.

February 4, 2017, New York, NY—The board of directors of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) appointed a new executive committee at its first meeting of the year on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

Anusha Shrivastava (@AnushaCU), Associate Director for Career Development and Alumni Relations at Columbia University’s Department of Statistics and faculty adviser for the SAJA student group at the university, returns for a third term as president. Ankita Rao (@anrao), an editor at VICE's science and tech vertical Motherboard, was elected vice president. Zainab Imam (@zainabimam), Program Officer at International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), will be the secretary and Geetika Rudra (@GGGeetika), a project manager at Dataminr, Inc., will be the treasurer. Sovy Azhath (@SovyProducer), former SAJA president and producer/writer at CNN Headline News, was elected as officer-at-large for a second term. 

Other board members include: Founder of Prismoji Hamdan Azhar (@HamdanAzhar), digital video producer at the Associated Press Nina Sen (@NinaSenAP), editor-in-chief of the Baloch Hal Malik Siraj Akbar (@MalikSirajAkbar), and freelance journalist Prerana Thakurdesai (@preranatd).

“My goal is to support South Asian journalists and journalism by supporting their training, visibility, and security during a particularly interesting time. I’m also excited to honor the best of our community later this year at the SAJA Awards Dinner,” said incoming Vice President Ankita Rao.

Treasurer Geetika Rudra also expressed her enthusiasm for developing SAJA into a resource for students and mid-career journalists looking for new skills and professional growth. “Aside from assuring our organization's financial health, I'm looking forward to introducing new opportunities this year to fund professional development for students and mid-career journalists. Journalism is at a pivotal moment, and it is SAJA’s goal to make sure our members are equipped with the resources and skills that they need to compete.”

“This is a very important year for journalists and I am happy to be serving SAJA as its president. This is my third term leading the group and I hope SAJA members continue to fulfill the organization's mission,” said Anusha Shrivastava. “Journalists have a crucial role to play in our democracy and we want to continue to support each other aswe report accurately and fairly. Do please reach out with ideas on what you would like us to help facilitate this year.”


Here's who joined the SAJA Board this year:

Hamdan Azhar is the founder of Prismoji, a former data scientist at Facebook, GraphScience, and Ron Paul 2012. He received a Master’s in Biostatistics from University of Michigan, and completed one year of Ph.D. coursework in neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He has been a freelance journalist for the past seven years, writing on politics, culture, and technology. Some bylines include VICE, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes. He is also the c0-founder of Muslim Writers Collective, a platform to promote creativity and storytelling among young people of color, holding monthly open mics in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, and profiled in NPR, VICE, Huffington Post, and more.

Nina Sen is a producer of digital video for the Associated Press, based in New York. She works in mobile and social video, motion graphics and most recently, has been producing virtual reality pieces. Prior to the AP, she worked as a broadcast reporter/producer for a local TV channel, News 12, where she learned to lug a 35-pound camera around NYC subways. Her journalism career took off after her first position at the Washington Post, where she worked directly in news and marketing to create revenue-generating products for young readers. She was recently named an ONA 2016 CNN diversity fellow and has worked on several award-winning documentaries based in South Asia. She holds a bachelors in business from Washington State University and a Masters in political science from St. John’s University.

Ankita Rao is an editor at VICE's science and tech vertical, Motherboard. In the past she reported on health policy at Kaiser Health News, and spent two years as a freelance journalist in India, where she wrote about health, development and the election for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Quartz and other publications. She is a recipient of grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Pulitzer Center, the International Center for Journalists, and SAJA.

Malik Siraj Akbar, based in Washington D.C., is the editor-in-chief of Pakistan's first hyper-local online newspaper, the Baloch Hal and a former Balochistan Bureau Chief of the Daily Times and the Friday Times. He was granted political asylum in the United States in 2011 because of death threats he received in Pakistan for reporting on human rights abuses in his native Balochistan province. He studied journalism at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in India and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication at Arizona State University. He holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and currently serves as the Vice President of the Harvard Kennedy School Washington DC Alumni Council. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Times of India, the Indian Express, Dawn, Express Tribune and several South Asian publications. Twitter: @MalikSirajAkbar.

Prerana Thakurdesai has more than 12 years of media experience in India and the US. In New York, she works as a freelance journalist for Indian news channels and publications. She also consults with Going To School, a non-profit organization that works with kids from low-income communities to create design-driven stories to teach them skills at school. Prerana has been a trainer at Solutions Journalism Network, training practicing journalists on reporting about solutions. She primarily works with film production companies on documentary films.

In India, Prerana was part of creatively developing and researching the award-winning television talk show on social issues in India - Satyamev Jayate - produced and hosted by one of India’s biggest actors and filmmakers, Aamir Khan. As part of the core team, she travelled the length and breadth of India, documenting stories around issues like child sexual abuse, gender, domestic violence, healthcare, sex-selective abortions among others.

Prerana also worked as a news anchor and reporter for some of India's biggest news channels - Times Now and NDTV. She began her career in the print media, working for publications like India Today and Mid-day, after completing a post graduate diploma in journalism from Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai.

Zainab Imam is a Program Officer at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in Washington, D.C. She is from Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked as a writer and editor for five years. Most recently, she worked at The Express Tribune, the Pakistani publishing partner of The International New York Times.

At ICFJ, she works on multiple programs, particularly in Pakistan. She currently manages the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism, an exchange program between journalists from Pakistan and the United States. She is also deeply involved in the establishment of ICFJ’s State Department-funded Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) in Karachi.

She has a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She tweets as @zainabimam.



1) Inside Hindu Nationalism in the US: As the U.S. heads into the final phase of a historic election, Sonia Paul and Mansi Choksi will draw parallels between the world’s largest and oldest democracies.

2) The Cost of War: Women's Health and Reproductive Rights in Post-War Afghanistan: While abortion is illegal in Afghanistan, three years ago, post-abortion care was legalized to enable women who've had incomplete or unsafe abortions to accessing lifesaving care. Sophie Cousins will investigate the impact this has had on women.

To learn more about the SAJA Reporting Fellowship click here:

Meet the winners and finalists of
SAJA's 2016 Annual Journalism Awards

Daniel Pearl Award

Winner: Azmat Khan - BuzzFeed
Syed Zain Al-Mahmood - WSJ
Khurrum Anis - Bloomberg

Outstanding Enterprise Reporting
Winner: Jesse Pesta and Preetika Rana - WSJ
Joanna Sugden and Aditi Malhotra - WSJ
Ryan Devereux - The Intercept

Outstanding Business Story
Winner: Amy Yee - Roads and Kingdoms
Diksha Madhok - QZ
Raymond Zhong - WSJ

Outstanding Arts and Culture Reporting
Mansi Choksi - The New Yorker
Winner: Maria Tavernini + Photos by Andrea de Franciscis -
Rhitu Chatterjee - PRI

Outstanding Feature Story
Winner: Natalie Obiko Pearson - Bloomberg

Sanam Maher - The New York Times
Gordon Fairclough - WSJ

Outstanding Photography
Smita Sharma - The New York Times
Winner: Jason Motlagh - Blackbeard Films
Jesse Pesta - WSJ

Outstanding Story on any Subject
Murtaza Hussain and Razan Ghalayini - The Intercept
Winner: Moni Basu +  Photos by Lexey Swall - CNN
Lisa Desai and Yasmeen Qureshi - PBS

Outstanding Editorial/Op-Ed/Commentary on any Subject
Aisha Sultan - St. Louis Post Dispatch
Kavita Das - The Atlantic
Winner: Dipka Bhambhani - Daily Caller

Outstanding Story on any Subject by a South Asian Student in the U.S. or Canada
Winner: Paayal Zaveri - KQED News

Nikita Sampath - Freelance
Vandana Rambaran - Journalism Without Walls

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