by Sagar Atre (@sratre), Student at Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism
For the first time in its history, the SAJA awards gala and dinner was held in Washington, D.C. at what is popularly called the home of journalism in the United States, the National Press Club. The gala received a fantastic response from journalists, students and even many who support its mission and its sincere dedication to journalism and South Asia.
Prominent names from the media industry like CNN Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi, who was also the keynote speaker, Sree Sreenivasan, the newly-named Chief Digital Officer of the Columbia University, and noted NBC producer Subrata De, who was awarded the SAJA Leadership Award, were in attendance.
Anusha Shrivastava, SAJA President and a reporter for Dow Jones FX Trader/Wall Street Journal said, “We are happy to be in Washington for the first time in our history, and we love the response that D.C. gave us. Another very encouraging happening is the exponential rise in the amount of scholarships we gave away this year to upcoming journalists, from $1,200 in the year 1999, to $50,000 this year, I feel we’re getting better and better at what we aim to do; support high-quality journalism about South Asia and the rest of the world.”
Awards were presented to the winners by board members and various dignitaries from the journalism world. Scholarships to high school, undergraduate and graduate students of journalism were given away, along with awards for working journalists in categories like Outstanding Business Story on South Asia, Outstanding Enterprise Reporting on South Asia, Outstanding Arts, Culture or TravelStory on South Asia, Outstanding editorial/commentary on South Asia, Outstanding visual storytelling on South Asia, and the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding reporting on South Asia.
Subrata De, executive producer of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports, was presented the SAJA leadership to a standing ovation. She was congratulated through a specially recorded message by her long-time colleague and celebrated NBC journalist Brian Williams, who said that working with a courageous, upright and impeccable journalist like Subrata was his honor. De, while receiving the award, expressed thanks to her parents and her humble beginnings in a town in Northern Canada, Thunder Bay. De said that her career is driven by an urge to do the best in whatever she did.
In his keynote address, Ali Velshi of CNN shared his journey as a journalist and offered analysis on the current economic situation in the country and the world. Velshi noted, “This financial crisis requires a great deal of thought now and not when we have the next debt ceiling crisis, which will be soon. But as we all know, it is a politically dangerous move, which makes it unfeasible right before an election.”
Velshi also commended SAJA for its support of journalists, saying, “I am heartened to see the strong and solid networking opportunities SAJA is providing to journalists of all ages; these scholarships and networking opportunities are crucial not only for young journalists, but also for seasoned journalists who must continuously reinvent and redefine their modes of story-telling in this digital age. I am glad the journalists of today have this opportunity, and I hope this organization and network grows and strengthens over time.”
Photos by Amrita Jayakumar and Roshan Ghimire