A journalist from Gujarat has won the inaugural fellowship instituted by an Indian-American entrepreneur and his wife for mid-career scribes from India. DNA Divya Bhaskar journalist Smitha Rajan has been selected for the inaugural Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Fellowship. “Smitha Rajan is a fearless fighter, a foe of the power structure and a friend to the disadvantaged,” Indian-American philanthropist Frank Islam said at a reception hosted in Washington DC to felicitate the recipient of the fellowship.
As part of the fellowship, Rajan will do internship at Politifact and The Washington Post for six months in the US.
Leading a team of 10 journalists as assistant editor with DNA Divya Bhaskar, Rajan covered stories focused on downtrodden, environment and health including air pollution, swine flu outbreak, poaching, lion translocation, and the plight of the Dalits, Islam said.
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“As I progressed, I got my own team to lead and that is when I found myself handicapped by lack of formal training in journalism,” Rajan said.
“I would like to use this fellowship opportunity to learn how journalists and newsrooms in the US are battling increased government and corporate control, reduced budgets and onslaught of digital journalism to be stronger and bolder,” she said.
The Frank Islam & Debbie Driesman Foundation started by Islam and his wife, Debbie Driesman, has partnered with Alfred Friendly Press Partners (AFPP) to fund the fellowship.