Ahmedabad-based journalist Smitha Rajan has been chosen for a fellowship in the US funded by a foundation started by prominent Indian-American IT entrepreneur Frank Islam and his wife Debbie Driesman.
The Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation (FIDDF), whose mission is to promote education, art and culture and peace and conflict-resolution, has joined hands with the Alfred Friendly Press Partners (AFPP), a leader in transforming journalists from information hungry societies, for the fellowship.
As the first FIDDF Fellow Rajan, chief correspondent of Daily News and Analysis in Ahmedabad, will work in a major newsroom in Washington DC for five months.
The stint in Washington will come after a five-week training programme at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri.
“Debbie and I consider the fellowship a strategic investment in the free press,” said FIDDF President Frank Islam.
“I firmly believe that Rajan will excel and will pave the way for the next generations of journalists who want to come to the US,” he added.
Rajan, a solo traveller with an adventurous spirit and the capability to be a journalistic change agent, supports scholarships for the education of poor students, preferably girls.
During the roughly six-month programme, Rajan will understand the significance of the free press in American society and develop the skills to transfer knowledge to colleagues at home in India.
Over the past three decades, AFPP has trained more than 300 journalists from 90 countries, including 15 world class journalists from India, who have gone on to become leaders in the field.
“Debbie and Frank are ambassadors for democracy and they understand the critical importance of a free press,” said Randall D. Smith, President of the AFPP.
“Their investment will impact countless lives in ways that can’t yet be imagined. That’s the potential of quality journalism,” Smith added.
Administered by the AFPP, the FIDDF fellowship is open to mid-career journalists with three years of professional experience employed by an independent news media organisation in India.