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Navigating Challenges In India’s Media Landscape by Udisha Shrivastav | DSF Scholarship Winner 2023

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind undertaking this project?

When I was applying for this scholarship, the theme/topic that the selected scholars would get an opportunity to work on excited me. Even before my selection for this scholarship, I almost had the draft project flow in my mind. Fortunately, I got the scholarship and started working on my project based on the theme of ‘Journalistic Safety.’ On the inspiration part, I wanted to work on a project out of pure passion. Hence, (courtesy to the Danish Siddiqui Foundation) without worrying about the finances, a rush to stick to a deadline, or any other pressuring factors, I executed this earlier imagined project. These important pillars added to my zeal to take on this project and successfully complete it.

What motivated you to focus on the specific topics or individuals covered in your research?

During this project journey, I always focused on the requirements and the theme proposed. Thus, instead of tinkering with the project theme on the surface, I wanted to delve deeper. Consequently, I talked to one of my mentors, Kunal Majumder, and explored various journalistic safety issues – physical safety, digital safety, psychological safety, and financial safety. From there, I chose the specific topics to work on. About the individuals covered, I ensured I interviewed people whose past experiences and stories fit well in the selected categories. For instance, who is better than Jaunpur-based journalist in Uttar Pradesh – Devendra Khare (who himself literally dodged a bullet and was hit by another) to talk about the physical safety of journalists?

How did using KnightLab’s StoryMapJS help you in the project?

I was introduced to the KnightLab’s StoryMapJS tool by one of my professors at Jamia Millia Islamia. I found it quite interesting and immersive when I read a particular story that used this tool. In the process, not only did I appreciate the story, but I also enjoyed the time spent reading it. Undoubtedly, it wasn’t just a great read and a wonderful experience. I wanted my project to impart the same experience to the respected viewers/readers.

I didn’t have to search the web for any queries when I used the tool. The tool came in handy, and there was no difficulty navigating it or using it throughout. The process was made easy and simple. Towards the end, when I showed the project to some of my close friends, they appreciated the tool’s usage as much as its content.

Did you encounter any challenges or unexpected discoveries while conducting your research?

The challenges were minimal, given that the Danish Siddiqui Foundation team was cordial and cooperative throughout the process. However, when I explored further and interviewed people, it turned out that the project I was working on had many pivots that could have been worth exploring. This could be referred to as a challenge or an opportunity, but I kept my focus on the theme and worked towards the final project.

What do you hope readers or audiences will take away from your project?

I believe the project would actively introduce the audiences/readers to various types of safety challenges that journalists encounter daily. It would also make them aware of how journalists—owing to their profession—navigate challenges that impact their personal lives. On a positive note, I hope that the audiences/readers enjoy the process of surfing through this immersive multimedia project.

Finally, how has this project impacted or influenced your academic or professional journey as a journalist?

As a budding journalist, interacting/communicating with senior journalists is an opportunity that I would hop on any day. The project, nonetheless, gave me this chance. It was one of the first times I talked to a journalist(s) personally, exploring how the profession could impact their personal and family lives. Earlier, I had only communicated with these journalists seeking guidance on a particular report or learning other related skills. Overall, the project expanded my horizons, and at this point, I am more aware of the challenges of being a journalist than I was earlier. It has also awakened me further with the realization that the profession isn’t a bed of roses – and sometimes, the challenges posed before journalists can impact their lives beyond imagination. As I strive to be a journalist, this project has deepened my understanding of the media landscape and the role of journalists.

About Udisha Shrivastav

Udisha Srivastav is an independent journalist who completed her Masters in Journalism from the prestigious AJK MCRC, New Delhi. She has worked with NDTV and has bylines at The Citizen, The Patriot, The Bastion, and She The People.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by those interviewed by the Danish Siddiqui Foundation, including all program participants, are solely their own current opinions regarding events and are based on their own perspectives and opinions. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Danish Siddiqui Foundation, or the companies with which any program participants/interviewees are, or maybe, affiliated.