SAJA REPORTING FELLOWSHIPS

Fall applications now open!

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.

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 $2,000-$5,000. 

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. The SRF program was kick-started with financial support from Mahadeva Family Foundation and has received funding from other donors, including the Dow Jones Foundation grants.

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 fellowships, applicants must:

  • Have demonstrated experience in producing in-depth and long-form projects.

  • Produce content in the English language.

  • Be able to publish or broadcast their projects in the United States. (Applicants must provide a letter of interest from a publication, and the published piece must acknowledge SAJA's financial support.)

  • Be available to discuss the project at SAJA events, including at the annual SAJA gala.

  • Provide periodic updates on the status of the project.


Application Requirements

Applicants should apply via this form. The deadline for applications has been extended to Oct. 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

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. Three 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

INCOMPLETE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.

Please direct any questions the Fellowships Coordinator: sajareportingfellowship@gmail.com.

The timeline for the Spring/Summer fellowship process will be as follows:

  • Applications Open: Sept. 8
  • Applications Close: 11:59 p.m. ET on Oct. 7
  • Awardees Announced: Late November

Judging: A panel of judges, selected by SAJA's Board will review the applications and make recommendations to the SAJA board. The SAJA board will make the final determinations on the projects selected and amount awarded to each. Fellows will be notified and are expected to be available for interviews with the judges if necessary.

After the application period:

  • Once an applicant is chosen for the reporting fellowship, they will receive confirmation as well as a request for a headshot, a bio, the project title and summary, in order to receive the grant.
  • Fellowship grants will reimburse actual expenses incurred in connection with approved fellowship projects. All expenses must be documented with receipts and invoices. The applicant will receive 50 percent of the amount allocated for the project before beginning the reporting project (please allow 30-45 days after SAJA receives the receipts for your reimbursements to reach you). The remaining amount will be awarded once the reported piece is completed, and upon review and approval of receipts and invoices for actual expenses incurred.
  • Award recipients must credit the South Asian Journalists Association on any pieces reported using grant funds.


Disclaimer:

  1. All decisions are final and subject to the discretion and judgment of the judges and the SAJA board
  2. SAJA board (present or past) 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 work funded by the Fellowship.
  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 SAJA's 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.

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SAJA needs financial support to continue the Reporting Fellowship Program and other programs.  Please pass on the following information to prospective donors.

TO CONTRIBUTE TO SAJA:
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" and mail to SAJA Group Inc., c/o John Laxmi, Treasurer, 145 Claridge Dr NE, Sandy Springs, GA 30342. 
Please contact John Laxmi for any questions: johnlaxmisaja@gmail.com

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 John Laxmi, Treasurer: johnlaxmisaja@gmail.com.

Meet our 2019 fellows!


Zuha Siddiqui is a journalist based in Karachi, Pakistan. She writes about borders, refugees, migration and human rights, and her work has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Diplomat, and BuzzFeed news, among others. Zuha was also a Falak Sufi Fellow at NYU and graduated from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute in 2019. She is currently an editor and reporter-researcher at a newsroom based in Karachi producing stories in the public interest.




Shashank Bengali is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, based in Singapore. He previously spent five years in Mumbai as the newspaper’s South Asia bureau chief and before that covered foreign affairs and national security in Washington. He has reported from more than 60 countries and is the recipient of several honors, including a 2016 SAJA Journalism Award for enterprise reporting for a narrative story about a Bangladeshi migrant to America.

 




Tulsi Kamath 
is an Indian-American journalist and works as a digital enterprise reporter at KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas. She got her bachelor’s degree in mass media with a focus in print journalism from the University of Mumbai, before moving to the United States for work. She’s worked in print and television newsrooms in Alaska and Texas and her passion is writing stories that make a difference and generate solutions. As a member of the South Asian community, Tulsi feels a responsibility to tell stories that help shine a light on issues faced by the diaspora in the United States.




Dharani Thangavelu is an independent journalist based in Tamil Nadu, southern India. Dharani worked for various media outlets, notably the Mint newspaper. Having spent the initial days as a business reporter covering the biggest automobile and IT companies in India, Dharani went on to extensively report on politics, environment and other sociocultural issues with a key focus on south India. Being a software engineer, Dharani switched professions to become a journalist after graduating from the Asian College of Journalism. Dharani can be reached on Twitter: @DharaniT


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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