SAJA President's Note: 2013 Recap Report

Dear SAJA Family,
The SAJA board and I would like to wish each and every one of you a Happy Holiday Season! The South Asian Journalists Association had a tremendous year in 2013 and this would not be possible without the support of you - our strong member-base!

As my presidential term comes to a close, I would like you to know that it was a complete honor serving you this year. I am signing-off as SAJA's President, but not signing out. SAJA has given so much to me that I will continue to be on the board and give back on behalf of this great organization. 

In February, the 2014 board will hold its first meeting where it will nominate and elect officers for SAJA's executive committee - President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer, & At-Large Officer.

I'm looking forward to passing on the torch to next year's president. But, before I do, here's a recap of the major events and accomplishments we've done just this year!

2013 SAJA Annual Awards Gala
Our annual Gala and Awards dinner was one of the most star-studded gala we have had in our nearly 20-year history.

It was a very special night at the Yale Club in New York City, where we honored journalists from around the world for their outstanding commitment to the craft and their incredible abilities to cover the South Asian diaspora.

Our keynote speaker, Al Jazeera America & HBO Sports Correspondent Soledad O'Brien, gave a humbling speech about her bi-racial background and how her roots from a multicultural family strengthened her drive in the broadcast profession.

Emceeing the evening was ESPN SportCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi, who kept us energized throughout the night and reminded all of the guests at the gala that we are South Asians pursuing journalism careers, and that's a trait truly worth celebrating!

We were also fortunate to have Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri present an award at the gala. Miss America spoke about her year-long platform celebrating diversity and cultural competency.

To see the winners from this year's Gala and Awards Dinner click here: SAJA Awards page.

Photos of the evening, provided by SAJA member Roshan Ghimire, are up on our Facebook Page!

Awarding Scholarships/Internships
SAJA awarded up to $60,000 in scholarships and internship funds for our student members this year - the most ever in our organization's history. These funds will help this year's scholarship winners and internship winners advance in their media careers and give back to the SAJA community! A new round of applications for both our scholarship and internship programs will begin in Spring 2014!

Awarding Reporting Fellowship Grants
The goal of the SAJA Reporting Fellowship Program is to bring awareness to the widest possible North American audiences on important issues and stories about South Asia and/or the South Asian diaspora that are not reported in the mainstream media today.This spring, our organization awarded and supported projects to our winners with a total of nearly $8,000 in funding. Another round of SRF applications will resume in 2014!

Exclusive Newsroom Tours
One of our most popular programs is "SAJA Comes to Work" where our members get exclusive behind the scenes access to a major newsroom. This Fall, SAJA members visited the CBS News newsroom and both the CNN NYC & D.C. Bureaus. Members spoke with HR representatives, producers and hiring managers from the respective news stations.

This Spring, we visited and toured the ABC News' office -- where our members had a Q&A session with Emmy award-winning
 anchor and correspondent David Muir. He's the weekend host of "World News with David Muir" and co-anchor of "20/20". After speaking with Muir, we watched Diane Sawyeranchor her live newscast.

For our financial journalist members, we had the chance to visit the Bloomberg News operations in Manhattan. And members had the chance to talk to Karen Amanda Toulon, the Bureau Chief of Bloomberg New York.

For our members who are freelance writers, we spent a lovely evening with our friends from Contently. This organization is an online platform that helps writers and bloggers build an online portfolio, then connects them to a range of publishers and editors. Expert freelancers and Contently editors critiqued our members' portfolios and writing samples. And Jimmy Soni, SAJA member and Managing Editor for The Huffington Post was the keynote speaker at this event as well!

Mixers, Workshops & Panels
We were thrilled to see many of you at our numerous mixers throughout the calendar year. One of our main goals this year was to collaborate with other journalism groups to help brand the SAJA name.

This year alone, we teamed up and hosted mixers and events with our friends and colleagues from the Online News Association (ONA), the New York Association of Black Journalists (NYABJ), the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), the Deadline ClubAsia Society Museum, the South Asian Bar Association of NY (SABANY), the Association of India Developmentand the Asian American Association of Time Inc. Also, CBS News invited SAJA to participate in an exclusive Fall networking mixer in Chicago.

Our most notable workshops this year were held on the west coast in Seattle and San Francisco. SAJA co-founder and board member Sree Sreenivasan, hosted his well-known social media workshop in Seattle this past spring and then in the Fall - SAJA board member Jigar Mehta co-hosted a media business venture workshop in the Bay Area.

Our noteworthy panel discussions included in September where our SAJA Toronto members co-hosted a discussion on current
 press freedom and human rights in Sri Lanka. Also in the Fall, SAJA hosted a special lecture and exhibit at the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop with artist, Imran Qureshi, who has now agreed to put one of his paintings up for auction at a future SAJA event. Those proceeds from the auction will benefit our scholarship and internship programs. 

Summer Luncheon with NBC News Anchor/Correspondent Ann Curry
Earlier this summer, SAJA hosted an exclusive donors' luncheon at Junoon Indian Restaurant in Manhattan with NBC News' Ann Curry. SAJA donors, fellowship winners, students, and mid-career journalists got to chance to pass the naan and talk with Ann about the changing landscapes of reporting and producing in the media today. She was thrilled to meet and give advice to SAJA folks and is looking forward to collaborating on future SAJA events!

Broadcast Challenge Met!
Thank you to those of you who donated to our Broadcast Challenge fundraiser. This March, we surpassed our fundraising goal of reaching the $10,000 mark and this wouldn't be possible without the support and help from you! Because we reached our $10K goal, some of the top South Asian broadcast journalists from around the country will match our funds dollar-for-dollar. All the funds we receive go directly back to SAJA to help us fund more scholarships, internships, reporting fellowship grants, workshops for mid-career journalists and a variety of other events for our members across the U.S. and Canada.

As you can see, we did a lot for our members this year, and plan to continue our SAJA mission: we want to encourage in-depth news coverage of South Asia and the South Asian diaspora and working to include more South Asian journalists in newsrooms around the world. We plan to provide more unique opportunities and educational events for our ever-growing membership heading into 2014 - our 20th Anniversary. We are looking forward to seeing you at future SAJA events including our big SAJA@20 celebration on Aug 1st-2nd at Columbia University in New York City.

Please don't forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and check out our SAJA Students Facebook page.

It was an honor to serve you as your President this year and thank you for all of your commitment and support for SAJA!


Sovy Azhath

President of the South Asian Journalists Association
CNN Headline News Producer/Writer

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