On October 29, INMA and Google News Initiative (GNI) awarded 50 news media professionals around the world with its debut Elevate Scholarship. This series features these impressive media professionals who are shaping our industry.
Anam Ajmal became a reporter because she wanted to give a voice to marginalised members of society. Now, as a senior feature reporter for The Times of India, Ajmal is doing exactly that and is eager to continue shining a light on the needs and challenges of underserved communities.
Much of her work has centered on issues involving gender, privacy rights, and personal freedoms, and she has helped build awareness not only for readers but within the newsroom itself.
“I think when a newsroom becomes sensitive to minorities, their coverage automatically improves,” she said. “Traditionally, Indian newsrooms have been dominated by men, and they have held all the positions of power. Men decide the front pages, they decide what is newsworthy.”
When the #MeToo movement began in 2018, Ajmal was part of a group that made a written request to investigate allegations within their own newsroom. That led to a committee being formed — which Ajmal served on — that would take complaints from people who were being harassed.
Her interest in covering social burdens comes, in part, from being born and raised in a Muslim household. During the past few years, the treatment of minorities within India society has created turmoil. That worsened in December after India passed a law that fast-tracked citizenship for immigrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who had entered the country before 2014. However, Muslims from those countries were excluded and the law’s passage was followed by protests.
Ajmal has closely followed the fallout as the result of the news policies and, in particular, how it affects women who have been leading protests against the law. Through her coverage, she has helped explain how minorities are affected by these decisions and the need for equality.
Going forward, Ajmal wants to continue exposing injustices, explaining the plight of the underserved, and questioning the status quo. That includes exploring social media policies and reporting on the increasing amount of hate rhetoric found on those platforms. And, although she is trained in print media, she is broadening her skills to harness the power of audio-visual mediums as well.
“At a time when the media faces a trust deficit, I want to be a voice that asks questions from authorities,” she said. “I want to be able to report things that the mainstream media misses out on, sometimes deliberately, because of political pressure.
“Journalism is not just another job for me. It’s a commitment that I made. My long-term goal is to be able to bridge that trust deficit between readers and news outlets by doing stories from the ground and being in touch with the aspirations of the country.”