2007 SAJA Journalism Awards Announced

Posted by Lia Chang

2007 SAJA Journalism Awards will be handed out at the 13th annual dinner on July 14, 2007 in NY.

SAJA Group, Inc. and the South Asian Journalists Association will honor the winners of the 2007 SAJA Journalism Awards contest at its 13th annual gala awards ceremony and dinner on Saturday, July 14, at the Roone Arledge Auditorium at Columbia's Lerner Hall (115th St & Broadway) as part of the four-day SAJA Convention (http://www.sajaconvention.org) in New York. These annual awards recognize excellence in reporting about South Asia, as well as outstanding reporting by South Asian journalists and students in the U.S. and Canada.

CBS correspondent Hari Sreenivasan and Aditi Roy, an anchor with NBC 10 News in Philadelphia will emcee the gala. Sendhil Ramamurthy, who plays Dr. Mohinder Suresh on NBC's hit show "Heroes", is the keynote speaker. Ramamurthy, who got his start in acting at Tufts University and then studied in London, has performed in theater in New York and England. He's also worked in film and in television, with guest appearances on "Numbers" and "Grey's Anatomy."

The four-day convention opens with a day of workshops on Thursday, July 12, and a reception at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where journalism deans Steve Shepard of CUNY and Nicholas Lemann of Columbia University will speak. Friday opens with a conversation with Keller. After a day of workshops and panels, the evening reception at Bloomberg News will be headlined by Amanda Bennett, executive editor for enterprise at the news service. The last day of workshops and panels on Saturday, July 14 concludes with the gala banquet and awards ceremony later that evening. Sunday, July 15, brings a more relaxed event, a networking brunch with live entertainment.

On Friday, July 13, the SAJA Journalism Leader Award will be presented to Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times. At the dinner on Saturday, July 14, Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian in Portland will be inducted into the SAJA Hall of Fame. Both awards will be presented by Deepti Hajela, SAJA president and a newswoman for The Associated Press.

"Honoring those who have contributed so much to journalism is among the conventions highlights, Hajela said. SAJA is thrilled to recognize two stellar journalists.

Previous winners of the Journalism Leader award are Steve Coll of The Washington Post; Rena Golden of CNN; Karen Elliott House and Peter Kann of Dow Jones; Peter Jennings of ABC News; Jai Singh of CNET News.com; Steve Shepard, former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek and founding dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at City University of New York; Paul Steiger of The Wall Street Journal; and Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek.

Peter Bhatia, the newest member of the SAJA Hll of Fame, has had a long and distinguished career that has spanned at least three decades. The Hall of Fame recognizes veteran U.S. journalists who helped shape coverage of South Asia, as well as pioneering South Asian journalists for their contributions to U.S. media.

Bhatia joins previous inductees Gobind Behari Lal, who won a Pulitzer Prize for science writing in 1937; Brij Lal, veteran broadcast journalist who joined ABC News in 1952 (and Gobind's nephew); Rajan Devdas, photojournalist for more than 60 years; Amrit Kakaria, who spent more than 45 years as a journalist in US and India; James W. Michaels, former editor of Forbes who first covered India during its struggle for independence and revisited the region in reports over five decades; and A.M. Rosenthal, the former New York Times editor who covered South Asia as a young correspondent and continued to write about the region as a columnist.

"I am deeply flattered that SAJA would think me worthy of such an award, Bhatia said. I feel very fortunate to have spent the 32 years working in newspaper newsrooms and look forward to the future. I owe any success I have achieved to the amazingly talented people I work with and have worked with, and I am most grateful to have had the opportunity to help people with their careers along the way. This honor motivates me to try to do more.

SAJA will also pay tribute to the memory of slain reporter Daniel Pearl, who, as South Asia bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, was a regular participant in SAJA's cyber activities. The sixth Daniel Pearl Award for outstanding print reporting on South Asia by U.S. and Canadian journalists will be presented that night. This year's winner is Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times.

According to Sandeep Junnarkar, chair of the SAJA awards committee, these awards "honor the insightful coverage of South Asia and showcase the excellence of South Asian journalists in North America."

SAJA also announces the winners of its 2007 journalism scholarships, totaling $8,500 this year:
* Anuradha Herath, who is receiving her master's in communication at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is the first winner of the CNN-SAJA Scholarship for Broadcast Journalism ($2,000).
* Sonia Narang, who is starting her second year at UC-Berkeley's Journalism Graduate School of Journalism, receives a graduate student scholarship ($2,000).
* Bilal Qureshi, from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism, receives a graduate student scholarship ($2,000).
* Anup Kaphle, a graduate of Tusculum College who will attend Columbia Journalism School in the fall, receives the undergraduate student scholarship ($1,500).
* Parija Sharedalal, a graduate of Long Island City High School who will attend Stony Brook University this fall, receives the high school scholarship ($1,000).

SAJA JOURNALISM AWARDS 2007
Winners for work executed in calendar year 2006. Each person/team below will receive a certificate at the SAJA Annual Dinner on Saturday, July 14, 2007, at Columbia University. The student winners will receive an additional cash prize.

SAJA Journalism Leader Awards
Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times

SAJA Hall of Fame Inductee
Peter Bhatia, executive editor of The Oregonian

CATEGORIES FOR US/CANADIAN MEDIA OUTLETS
I. The Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding story about South Asia, or South Asians in North America: Print
Winner: Paul Watson, The Los Angeles Times, for a series of articles looking at the consequences of the war in Afghanistan.
Finalist: S. Mitra Kalita, The Washington Post, for "A Reversal of the Tide in India; Tech Workers Flow Home to More Success."

II. Outstanding story about South Asia, or South Asians in North America: Broadcast (TV/Radio)
Testing for diabetes
Winner: Philip Reeves, NPR, for "The Disappeared of Sri Lanka."
Finalist: Simone Ahuja, CNBC/DLife TV, for "Diabetes Around the World."

III. Outstanding story about South Asia, or South Asians in North America: New Media
Winner: Samantha Grant, FRONTLINE/World, for "India: A Pound of Flesh."
Finalist: Preston Merchant, www.sepiamutiny.com, for "They don't hire their own people. They hire Kenyans."

IV. Outstanding editorial/commentary on South Asia, or South Asians in North America: All media
Winner: Sandip Roy, NPR, for "Saving the NSA Effort on Some Calls to India."
Finalist: Swetha Iyengar, Indian Life and Style Magazine, for "Did Kaavya Betray our Community?"

V. Outstanding photograph about South Asia, or South Asians in North America (single or series)
Winner: Q. Sakamaki, Redux/ Newsweek, for "Sri Lanka: War Without End."

CATEGORIES FOR SOUTH ASIAN JOURNALISTS BASED IN THE US OR CANADA
VI. Outstanding story on any subject: Print
Winner: S. Mitra Kalita, The Washington Post, for "Reaching for Legitimacy in the Immigrant Economy; Networks Help Illegal Workers Find Jobs, Housing."
Finalist: Stephanie Mehta, Fortune magazine, for "Behold the server farm! Glorious temple of the information age!"

VII. Outstanding story on any subject: Broadcast/Radio
ER: In Critical Condition
Winner: Seema Mathur, CBS 42 KEYE News, for "ER: In Critical Condition/ Specialists."
Finalist: Lisa Amin, KNTV, for "Journey To India - PART 5."

Troubled children
VIII. Outstanding story on any subject: New Media
Winner: Jigar Mehta, The New York Times, for "Troubled Children, Part 2."
Finalist: Leela Jacinto, Women's eNews, for "Algerian Amnesty Heightens Danger to Women."

IX. Outstanding editorial/op-ed/commentary on any subject: All media
Winner: Mohi Kumar, Little India, for "The Wall."
Finalist: Feroza Master, Media Magazine, for "The Impossibility of Objectivity."

X. Outstanding photograph on ANY SUBJECT (SINGLE OR SERIES)
Winner: Dipti Vaidya, The Tennessean, for "Dog Rescue."

CATEGORIES FOR STUDENTS OF SOUTH ASIAN ORIGIN IN US OR CANADA
XI. Outstanding story on any subject by a South Asian STUDENT in the US or Canada: All media, including photography.

The student winners receive a certificate, plus a cash award as indicated below.
1st Prize: Mayank S. Bubna, New York University, for "Rushdie Experiment," published in ABCDLady.com. ($500.00)
2nd Prize: Sudhin Thanawala, University of California, for "Slums Separate Bombay From its Future," published in the San Francisco Chronicle. ($300.00)
3rd Prize: Ambreen Ali, Northwestern University, for "After the Earthquake." ($200.00)

ABOUT SAJA GROUP, INC. & SAJA
SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association, was founded in March 1994 as a networking group for journalists of South Asian origin in New York City. It has grown into a national group of more than 1,000 journalists working for leading publications, broadcast networks and online outlets in various cities in the US and Canada. Details of SAJA's activities and resources for journalists.

Among these are the SAJA Journalism Awards program, Web-based SAJA Stylebook for Covering South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora and its tips and resources for journalists covering South Asia or South Asians living in North America.