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SAJA Announces 2011 Journalism Award Winners

2011-06-19 10:00 PM | Jigar Mehta
June 19, 2011

NEW YORK The South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) and SAJA Group Inc. are pleased to announce the winners in its annual journalism awards contest.

Winners for the SAJA 2011 Journalism Awards for work published in 2010 include NPR, Time, The New York Times and Glamour.

This year, SAJA received more than 200 entries in 10 categories. The winners were selected through an tough two-step judging process that involved more than 20 judges. Each award winner and the finalists received a certificate at SAJA's 17th Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at Columbia University. The student winners received an additional cash prize.

Category 1 - The Daniel Pearl Award for outstanding reporting about South Asia, or South Asians in North America: All Media

Winner: The Shadow War (Series) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 -- Mark Mazzetti,Dexter Filkins, The New York Times

Judge’s Statement: The Shadow War exemplifies the very best of investigative reporting. It breaks significant news, tells a larger tale and explains policy implications along the way. The reporters' access and doggedness was most impressive.


Along The Grand Trunk Road: Coming Of Age In India And Pakistan  --  Steve Inskeep; Julie McCarthy; Phillip Reeves, NPR
On Patrol (Series) 1, 2, 3, 4 -- Christopher Chivers, The New York Times
India’s Diabetes Epidemic Cuts Down Millions Who Escape Poverty -- Jason Gale, Bloomberg News
Afghan Women and The Return of the Taliban -- Aryn Baker, TIME

Category 2. Outstanding story about the worldwide South Asians diaspora: All Media

Winner: Bhutanese refugees series -- Matt O'Brien, Jane Tyska, Contra Costa Times / Bay Area News Group

Judge’s Statement:

The Bhutan series is a meticulously detailed account of a development that with different players is evident all around the U.S.  Immigrants and refugees form a new community in a seemingly disparate place.  In this case Bhutanese refugees in northern California.  The reporter and photographer documented this in print, video and pictures in a way that is seldom seen-- as a continuum starting with the journey from the refugee camps and proceeding through the immense cultural adjustments to be made after arrival.  Extraordinary work.

An American Honor Killing -- Abigail Pesta, Marie Claire
Nikki Haley  -- George Joseph, India Abroad
They've Struck Oil, But They're Not Rich -- Sachi Cunningham, Los Angeles Times

Category 3. Outstanding business story about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asians diaspora: All Media

Winner: The Organ Dealer -- Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Discover magazine  

Judge’s statement:

The Organ Dealer is meticulously reported and compellingly written, so much so that you feel you are at the author's side during his investigation. Mr. Bhattacharjee's writing conveys an impressive knowledge of the complex health and business issues  involved with the black market for kidneys. An investigative tour de force.

Suicides in India Revealing How Men Made a Mess of Microcredit -- Yoolim Lee, Ruth David,  Bloomberg News
Tax-Free Living in Pakistan -- Adam Ellick, The New York Times

Category 4. Outstanding arts, culture, or travel story about South Asia, or South Asians in North America: All media

How India's Success Is Killing Its Holy River --  Jyoti Thottam, TIME    

Judge’s statement
This well-researched, wide-ranging piece expertly explains how industrial development in India is causing a water crisis that’s crippling communities along a 600-mile stretch of the Ganges River. By examining the historical, environmental, geographical and religious components of India’s “war over water,” Thottam illuminates a complex issue that has global implications, and brings it home through finely etched personal stories.


Street Food Goes Gourmet -- Preeti Chandan, India-West
A Normal Man In A Not So Normal World -- Amitava Kumar, Preston Merchant,  The Caravan
Behind the Scenes at the South Asian Spelling Bee -- Dr Mona Khanna, Shar Adrias,

Category 5. Outstanding editorial/commentary on South Asia, or South Asians in North America: All media

Winner: My Mother's Last Sari -- Madhulika Sikka, Daily Beast

Judge’s Statement:
My Mother's Last Sari is a beautifully crafted poignant essay which manages to be both moving and unsentimental which is  a remarkable feat given the subject - a daughter writing about her mother's passing. The death of a parent has been the subject of many moving essays and tributes but Madhulika manages to weave in a much larger story of immigration and the courage of these early immigrants, the traditional women whose courage and bravery is too often dismissed, sometimes even by their own children. The sari becomes a symbol of something far more than six yards of cloth, rising beyond being a repository of cultural tradition to an emblem of courage and strength.


Obama's Pakistan Dilemma -- Matthew Kaminski, The Wall Street Journal
But Is It Racist? -- Tanzila Ahmed, Sepia Mutiny
Photojournalist notebook: Reflections on a visit to Bhutan and Nepal, Jane Tyska, The Oakland Tribune/Bay Area News Group

Category 6. Outstanding photograph about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asians diaspora (single or series)

Winner: Women of Afghanistan Under Taliban Threat -- Jodi Bieber, TIME


Jodi Beiber did an amazing job with a difficult topic and one endemic to countries beyond Afghanistan's borders. Bieber's very human treatment highlights the subject of abuse and violence against women without exploiting the woman as victim. It highlights her inherent beauty as well as the offense.


The Mainali Family Journey Part 1 & 2 -- Jane Tyska, The Oakland Tribune/Bay Area News Group
Along The Grand Trunk Road: Coming Of Age In India And Pakistan  --  NPR

Category 7. Outstanding coverage of the South Asian environment, including the Pakistan floods (All Media)

Winner: NPR Flood Coverage -- Julie McCarthy, NPR

Judge’s statement:

These are exceptional reports. Everything that journalism should be.  While the coverage is outstanding in every way I was particularly impressed by the elegant writing of the narration.


Coal India Limited -- Srinivas Kuruganti, Blurb books
Inside the Flood Zone -- Reza Sayah, CNN

Category 8. Outstanding story on any subject: All media

Winner: The Most Wanted Surrogates in the World -- Habiba Nosheen, Hilke Schellmann, Glamour

Judge’s statement:
A very-well reported piece on surrogate mothers that not only addresses the personal and emotional cost of the practice but also highlights a conundrum for policy makers --  which insurance company pays for the medical care of these pregnant women, who may sometimes  profit from bearing another couple's child. And getting it published in Glamour, competing against headlines like "30 Flirty Dresses under $125" ...priceless!


More airport security screenings for Sikhs (Series) -- Anju Kaur, Sikh News Network
Rwanda: Take Two -- Pia Sawhney, The Washington Post
Warlord Reflection On Liberia's Bloody Wars -- Seema Mathur, Mike Martin, CNN
SF Police Chief: Muslims a Possible Threat -- Anser Hassan , Illume Media

Category 9. Outstanding editorial/op-ed/commentary on any subject: All media

Winner: Across the Border - Tech-savvy, Poverty-ridden -- Sujeet Rajan, The Indian Express North American edition

Judge’s Statement:

In his thought-provoking essay about the parallel worlds of progress and poverty, Mr. Rajan cautions readers not to forget about "Shining India"'s darker side. He uses vivid examples to make his points, while staying focused and tight in his writing.


Let These Women Pray! -- Asra Nomani, Daily Beast
Detention Reform and Its Discontents, Anil Kalhan, Dorf on Law

Category 10. Outstanding photograph about South Asia, or the worldwide South Asians diaspora (single or series)

Judges did not select a winner in this category.

Category 11. Outstanding story on any subject by a South Asian student in the US or Canada: All media

First place:
Watch and learn -- Riddhi Shah, Boston Globe - ($500 Prize)

Judge’s Statement: Riddhi Shah’s piece is an enjoyable read with history and context. The reporting, tone and writing was compelling and kept me engaged.

Second place--tie: ($300 Prize)
Canadian women getting controversial surgery to mimic virginity -- Tamara Baluja, The Province
Rogue militias abuse rural Afghans -- Mujib Mashal, Al Jazeera English

Third Place--tie: ($200 Prize)
$325 a week; living as a newspaper vendor -- Vishal Persaud, The Wage Divide
The Heretics -- Vivekananda Nemana, Shoeleather Magazine
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