A woman enters the Potohar Organization for Development Advocacy artisan center in Chakwal, Pakistan

This program is aimed at promoting a rare element in 24/7-news-cycle journalism -- in-depth and follow-up reporting on major events relating to South Asia or South Asians, long after the breaking-news crews have moved on.

Application Requirements

Applications must include:

  1. A proposed project description and a plan for publication in no more than 500 words

  2. A preliminary budget estimate that includes a detailed breakdown of costs

  3. Samples of previously published work

  4. Three professional references

  5. One letter of interest from an editor or producer who would publish your proposed project

  6. Resume

Questions to Priya Arora, Fellowships Coordinator:

A total of up to $20,000 may be given out annually, divided among projects at SAJA's discretion. Each fellowship award is typically between $3,000-$7,000. 

Open to freelancers and staff journalists in any medium, the fellowships are meant to encourage in-depth reporting projects by providing grants to cover a portion of reporting expenses.

These Fellowships, launched in 2005 to ensure follow-up reportage about the 2004 tsunami and its victims, were initially funded by SAJA members, corporate donors and friends of SAJA. For the last seven years, the SRF received a major financial boost thanks to the support of the Mahadeva Family Foundation, which will make an annual contribution of $20,000. Since 2015, SAJA has also received consistent financial support from the Dow Jones Foundation in the form of a significant conditional grant that is tied to SAJA demonstrating its ability to broaden its supporter base.

The fellowship is open to proposals on any in-depth topics covering South Asia or the South Asian Diaspora.

To be eligible for this year's fellowship, applicants must:

·       Have demonstrated experience in completing high-level, comprehensive journalistic projects.

·       Produce content in the English language.

·       Be able to publish or broadcast the finished work in North America (U.S. and Canada).

·       Applicants need not be based in North America, but the final work MUST be published in a U.S. or Canadian media outlet.

·       Be willing to work with an editor, chosen by SAJA, who will oversee the successful completion of the project.

·       Be available to discuss the project at SAJA events, including but not limited to the annual SAJA convention and/or panel discussions.

·       In addition, the news organization(s) that publish(es) or air(s) the finished work(s) must agree to provide a prominent credit to SAJA. You will need a letter of interest from a publication.


Timeline for the fellowship process will be as follows:

Spring/Summer Fellowship Applications Open: March 25

Spring/Summer Fellowship Applications Close: 11:59 p.m. ET on May 5

Spring/Summer Fellowship Judging:  April 26-May 15

Spring/Summer Fellowship Awards Announced:  May 20

2. Once an applicant is chosen for the reporting fellowship, he/she would receive an email from the SRF committee, with a detailed list of deliverables in order to receive the grant. The deliverables would include the following:

·       An updated photo of the applicant

·       An updated bio

·       Project title

·       A summary introduction to the project (200 words)

·       Introduction to the project (less than 30 words)

·       Image for the project (to be provided once fellow lands in the country they are reporting in)

3. The applicant would get the first half of the amount allocated before leaving for the trip after agreeing to the terms of the fellowship that would include providing the information asked above. The second half of the fellowship amount would be given after providing reimbursable expense receipts (please allow 30-45 days after SAJA receives the receipts for your reimbursements to reach you) and the following:

·       Published Primary article or Video or TV segment

·       A minimum of two Tweets per day from the field, which will be made using an SRF-specific hashtag

·       One slideshow of photographs sent from the field, to be published on SRF website

·       A report detailing the reporting experience (approximately 800 words) written in first person as a reporter’s diary, to be published on SRF website.

The fellows would credit The South Asian Journalists Association on any and every story written and published from the field for all publications.

Judging: A panel of judges will review the applications and make recommendations to the SAJA board. The SAJA board will make the final determinations on what amount of money will be awarded. Fellows will be notified and expected to be available for interviews with the judges if necessary.

1. All decisions are final and subject to the discretion and judgment of the judges and the SAJA board

2. SAJA board members and members of their families are not eligible to apply.

3. SAJA is not responsible for any financial or legal liabilities (or any other liabilities) that arise from the actions of the fellow(s).

4. SAJA reserves the right to amend or extend deadlines or change other procedures relating to the fellowship program.

5. SAJA reserves the right to use recipients' head shots, bios and published work as part of their future marketing and fundraising purposes.

TAX INFORMATION:  Anti money-laundering and other U.S. tax laws require SAJA to verify the identity of all payees.  Each Grant recipient is required to provide information such as nationality, country of residence, the mailing address of home and office and tax information (Form W-9 or W8 BEN).   Reporting Fellowship Grant payments will be paid in U.S. Dollars by wire transfer to the Grant recipient’s bank account (which are subject to applicable bank charges and fees). The Grant payments are reimbursements for actual expenses incurred and, therefore, not deemed to be compensation for services.  Accordingly, no tax form (such as Form 1099) will be issued for the Grant amounts.

 - - - -

FINANCIAL GOALS: In order to assure long-term financing for the fellowships program, we are targeting an initial fundraising effort of $100,000 or more. We plan to raise the money through fundraising events, donations and contributions from individuals and foundations, and other sources.

We need your support!

Make a tax-deductible to SAJA Group Inc in one of two ways.

1. Make an online contribution using your credit card.
2. Mail a check payable to "SAJA Group Inc" ("SAJA Reporting Fellowships" in the memo line) to SAJA Group, Inc, c/o John Laxmi, Treasurer, 19 Einsenhower Road, Closter, NJ 07624; 
e-mail: johnlaxmisaja at

SAJA Group, Inc. is a non-profit charitable organization (EIN: 55-0844632) and is registered with the State of New York Charities Bureau (Registration Number 20-70-28). Please send any funding questions to 

Meet our newest fellows!

Wajeeha Malik is a journalist and strategic communications specialist who graduated in 2017 from Northwestern University’s campus in Qatar. She has reported on a variety of issues in the Middle East, the US and Pakistan, ranging from educational woes in Chicago’s low-income areas to migrant worker rights to whale sharks in the Arabian Gulf. She has written for a variety of notable organizations, including National Geographic. Currently she works in Islamabad, Pakistan as an editor and freelance reporter. Her interests include environmental activism, cooking, historical research, and learning coding and digital design.  

You can reach out to Wajeeha on Twitter: @WajeehaM

Shakeeb Asrar is a Pakistani journalist specializing in interactive journalism and long-form storytelling. He has previously worked for Al Jazeera English and USA Today, and is currently working as a content creator in Doha, Qatar. He was also recipient of the Pulitzer Center reporting fellowship, through which he created a documentary on Pakistan’s death penalty laws. The project won a Mark of Excellence Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist for SAJA Journalism Awards. Shakeeb majored in journalism from Northwestern University, with a minor in Media and Politics and Civic Engagement. His interests include covering stories on human rights and sociocultural issues in South Asia.

Shakeeb can be reached at @shakeebasrar.


Suman Naishadham is a journalist studying at the Missouri School of Journalism. She has reported from India, the United States, and Mexico and recently covered the historic 2018 Mexican presidential election for Reuters. Her work has also appeared in Vice, GQ Magazine and Roads & Kingdoms. Follow her on Twitter @sumannaishadham." 

Jennifer Chowdhury is an independent journalist based in New York City and Bangladesh. She

covers the South Asian diaspora with a specific focus on Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.

Jennifer started her career in fashion and lifestyle journalism working in the editorial

departments for Elle Decor and In Style magazine. She transitioned to reporting on Asian

American stories for, and international gender issues’ for Marie

Claire magazine,,, and other outlets. Her work on global women’s

stories for has been recognized by Huffington Post’s What’s Working Series.

Currently, Jennifer is working on a series of reports on Rohingya women and young girls. She is

passionate about covering stories on women of color around the world whose voices are stifled

by patriarchal attitudes, systematic racism and socioeconomic burdens.

View her work here:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is the SAJA Reporting Fellowship (SRF) open to journalists not based in the United States?

A. The SRF is open to all journalists, anywhere in the world, as long as the proposal is about South Asia or the South Asian Diaspora. The finished work must also be published, aired or posted online by a US or Canadian publication, broadcaster or Website.

Q. What projects are being considered for the SRF?

A. Generally, we are looking for projects that cover topical and important issues that have either not been covered in-depth or not covered at all by the mainstream U.S. media.

Q. How much money will I receive for this fellowship if I were to win?

A. The fellowship is awarding up to $20,000 this year. Each project, however, is likely to receive between $3,000 and $7,000 at SAJA's discretion. If a winning proposal requires additional support, the SAJA board has the discretion to provide more funding.

Q. I am a freelancer. How important is the letter of support from a U.S. or Canadian publication showing interest in the piece?

A. It is a critical component of the application package. Without that letter, your proposal will be considered incomplete.

Q. I work for a South Asia-based media company. Do I need a letter of interest from a U.S. or Canadian publication or can I just run the piece in my publication in South Asia?

A. One of the main goals of the SRF is to bring strong coverage of South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora to North American audiences. SAJA assumes that publications in South Asia cover that region regularly. Therefore, it is critical that journalists working for South Asia-based media find a U.S. or Canadian market for their proposals. A letter from an editor of a North American media organization showing support and strong interest in the proposal is REQUIRED.

Q. I will need to purchase equipment--like cameras, hard drives, audio recorders, etc.--to successfully complete this project. Will the SRF pay for such equipment?

A. The fellowship does NOT pay for big-ticket electronic items. It will, however, pay for Flash Memory up to $200.

Q. I work for a North America-based media outlet. Why do I need to submit a letter of support from my editor?

A. You need to submit a letter of support from your editor to assure SAJA that your employer will support your endeavors. This support could can be in the form of 1) additional financial support to complete the reporting; 2) giving you time to travel to complete the reporting; 3) setting aside time from your daily work obligations to complete the reporting and writing required to complete the project.

Q. Why does the media outlet that first publishes the work have to agree to let other organizations republish the work after an initial, exclusive run?

A. The goal of the SRF is to bring awareness to the widest possible North American audiences about an important issue about South Asia or the South Asian Diaspora. Therefore, SAJA gives first-run exclusivity, but then wants to disseminate the work more widely after that period. SAJA asks subsequent publications to credit both the SRF and the original media outlet that ran the piece.

Q. If I have applied before, can I apply again?

A. Yes, you may apply again. SAJA recommends, however, that if you did not win previously, you re-conceptualize your proposal to give it a fresh perspective.

Q. Can I apply by the deadline but submit required material after the deadline?

A. NO. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered.

Q. Does it matter how well the application is written?

A. Yes. It indicates to SAJA how serious you are about your work, your attitude toward this fellowship, and your drive to successfully publish the reportage.

Q. Can I submit several proposals?

A. Yes, as long as each proposal is self-contained with ALL the required material.

Q. Can a team submit a proposal team?

A. Yes, a team may submit a project. Keep in mind, however, that a team of more than 2 or 3 will require more travel expenses. In that case, the team may need to find other funding support.

Q. Which countries are considered to be part of South Asia?

A. South Asia is the all-encompassing term for the Indian Subcontinent. South Asia is distinct from East and Southeast Asia. The seven countries of South Asia are Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The SRF, however, will also consider proposals about Afghanistan.

Q. What does SAJA define as the South Asian Diaspora?

A. The SAJA stylebook defines it as follows: Because of the British colonial legacy and large-scale immigration, there are substantial pockets of people of South Asian origin scattered around the world (besides South Asia, of course). In some cases--Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago--South Asians make up at least 35 percent of the population. Other countries with large South Asian communities: Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. The government of India puts the size of the Diaspora at more than 20 million. There are more than 2 million South Asians in the United States. Stories about the South Asian Diaspora in these countries as well as more recent settlements will be considered.

Q. When is the deadline?

A. We are accepting applications on a quarterly basis; please see the very top of this page for the next applicable deadline.

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