The Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States (AFPC-USA) provides annual scholarships to foreign journalists who are completing their Master’s level studies in a U.S.-based academic institution.

Report by: Muhammad Moazzam Ali

The AFPC’s scholarship will help me connect with journalists from all over the world”

Khushboo Razdan is a multimedia journalist with over a decade of work experience in India and China. She is presently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in Politics at the Columbia School of Journalism. In 2021, she received an Annual Scholarship Award from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the USA. In India, she worked for NDTV 24×7, Times Now, and India Today. As an International reporter for China Global Television Network (CGTN), she wrote about India-China ties, Chinese culture, gender issues, and mental health. She published in-depth stories about death studies in the COVID era, targeted killings of journalists in Afghanistan, persecution of inter-religion couples under India’s Hindu-nationalist government, Mahatma Gandhi’s racist past, among others. She is interested in reporting about the impact of colonialism on native population of former and current dependencies.

What was the primary reason you chose to pursue your master’s studies in the United States as a foreign journalist?

COVID-19 pandemic made me pause and ponder about how similar our experiences have been across the globe. We’ve all witnessed death and misery around us. We were lucky to survive, only to be cooped up in our homes with a constant feeling of anxiety. As a journalist, I have covered big global news stories, but the sheer longevity of the pandemic was an unprecedented challenge. The post-COVID world was nothing like the one we had before, and I wanted to make sense of it. Coming to the US and learning new skills as a foreign journalist became all the more important.

Also, I needed an outlet to freely share my experiences as a woman journalist of color, and I couldn’t have found a better place than New York City where I meet people from varied backgrounds and hear a new language every few yards. This city welcomes all.

You were recently awarded a scholarship from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States. How did you feel about this recognition? 

I feel honored and blessed. This scholarship will help me connect with journalists from all over the world and learn from their experiences. I would like to thank the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States for this opportunity and recognition.

As a journalist, how do you expect your studies and the support from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States to help you advance your career?

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” this quote from Casablanca comes to mind. I see this as a new beginning. My intellectual awakening at Columbia and the meaningful connections that I will make through the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents will expand the periphery of my understanding of global affairs and reporting techniques. I also look forward to making useful contributions to the community through my work.

What made you decide to become a journalist? How do you hope to make an impact in the journalism field of your country of origin?

A perpetual sense of gender-based injustice kept me paralyzed through my formative years as I was raised in a conservative milieu in India. Women were seen as intellectually inferior. This rendered them economically dependent on others and vulnerable to physical, mental, and emotional violence in both private and public spaces. Even today the social and economic status of women remains below men. Many girls are married off at a younger age and are forced to embrace early motherhood and abandon any professional ambitions. Among the G20 nations, India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the workforce. The “fear of getting raped” and “blotting the family name” exacerbate such hobbling patterns.

Women’s issues continue to be underreported in India. I hope to change that by focusing on discriminatory practices and emerging trends through personalized stories.

As a foreign journalist, what defines your mission? 

When the US was convulsed by protests against racial injustice, I worked on a story that highlighted the racist facet of the revered Mahatma Gandhi’s storied life. In my country, I reported on incidents of violence against African students. Many of them were wrongly labeled as “drug peddlers.” I also saw first-hand how African tenants were thrown out of their apartments in some Chinese cities by their proprietors for “spreading the virus” during COVID. My mission is to bring to the forefront issues of race, gender, identity in societies where such discourse is often collectively shut out.

What do you think is the greatest threat to journalism today?

Misinformation and disinformation are the biggest threats to journalism today. The story of Maria Ressa, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Filipino journalist, comes as a welcome ray of hope. She said the only way to tackle misinformation is to launch a global counter-information campaign run by well-trained journalists, scientists and social activists providing fact-based news. I think journalists can play the role of content moderators, fact-checkers, and even policymakers for the social media platforms. It can be immensely helpful in mitigating the deleterious effects of instant, unverified news.

What is the state of press freedom in your country of origin and how do you hope that your work will encourage more people to access independent and credible information?

According to the Freedom House Index 2020, India is a “flawed democracy.” The 2021 World Press Freedom Index ranks India 142 in freedom of the press. Many private national news organizations have become government mouthpieces, echoing state propaganda. Free and independent press finds itself mired in trumped-up tax and fraud charges. Raids and legal harassment by federal departments have become a new norm.

The world’s biggest democracy is turning into an “elected autocracy.” As a foreign journalist, I would continue to raise awareness about India’s political, social, and economic regression through my stories.

Report by : Muhammad Moazzam Ali

Noran Morsi is a writer and podcaster studying at New York University’s Literary Reportage MFA program, and holds a BA in Multimedia Journalism from the American University in Cairo, Egypt. In 2021, she received an Annual Scholarship Award from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the USA. Born and raised in Cairo, Noran’s teenage years coincided with the January 25 revolution. She spent her first-year post-graduate as a reporter at Egyptian Streets, an independent online publication, where she founded the Egyptian Streets Podcast. Noran has written two short plays and is interested in creating documentary theatre work. She’s excited to be in New York to write about immigration, the past and present of Arab New York, Muslim woman joy, and more.

What was the primary reason you chose to pursue your master’s studies in the United States as a foreign journalist?

The U.S., and New York specifically, is the center of journalism in the world. I had already studied journalism in my home country of Egypt, and I wanted to get another perspective in a place that gathered journalists from around the world.

You were recently awarded a scholarship from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States. How did you feel about this recognition?

I was so excited!! I’ve been keeping up with the scholarship for the past two years, seeing the incredible journalists from around the world who were awarded it, and hoped I’d be one of them. As an international student from Egypt, the scholarship is essential in continuing my master’s degree at NYU and accomplishing my dream of having an MFA.

As a journalist, how do you expect your studies and the support from the Association of Foreign Press Correspondents in the United States to help you advance your career?

I wouldn’t be able to continue my master’s without the AFPC-USA scholarship. With my master’s degree, I intend to do two things: teach journalism back home in Egypt as a professor and use my master’s thesis as my first steps in developing a book. This degree will undeniably help me develop in my career and I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue it with the support of this scholarship.

What made you decide to become a journalist? How do you hope to make an impact in the journalism field of your country of origin?
Growing up in Cairo during the revolution, I saw how much of an impact traditional media and social media had on my country. Over the years, I realized what essential role journalism has, and with the development of podcast journalism, I’ve understood that journalism doesn’t have to come in the form of an article or a book. I’ve also understood the impact that journalism can have in telling the stories of a marginalized group of people. I hope that I can work in journalism in Egypt by focusing on Egyptian women’s stories, and how their voices can be better heard.

As a foreign journalist, what defines your mission?
My mission as a journalist in the U.S. is to focus on the erased history of Arab New York, and the essential role Arab New Yorkers play in the city today, from food to faith, to culture.

What do you think is the greatest threat to journalism today?
Censorship.

                                                                                                                                                                                    ( as per Foreign Press Report )






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