This month's journalist, Paromita Pain of India, is a freelancer and graduate student. Through IJNet, she discovered a journalism training program in the Netherlands and won a scholarship. She also views our weekly bulletin as an "extension of j-school" because of our tips stories.
If you'd like to be featured on IJNet, contact us with a short bio of how the site has helped you.
IJNet: What is your current position?
Paromita Pain: After eight years with The Hindu newspaper, India’s most respected broadsheet, I came to the United States for further studies. Right now I am a student of the MA Specialized Journalism program at the University of Southern California. Earning a degree in the beautiful California sunshine is so totally worth it! I still freelance for a number of publications in the U.S. and India while writing for The Hindu. Being a student and freelance journalist [and] often not knowing whether I am writing a term paper or a feature to be published on deadline is fun.
IJNet: How has IJNet helped you?
PP: IJNet has been instrumental in my career. I won my first international scholarship to the Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC) through IJNET. Then I got a real breakthrough when I was awarded the National Press Fellowship (NPF) for the J2J HIV/AIDS Global Media Training in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2009. Since then, HIV/AIDS and mobile technology that is changing the health scenario in Africa has been more than a passion.
IJNet: How do you get your ideas for stories?
PP: Every possibility is rife with possibilities. Also reading newspapers and news websites of all kinds from every country is very helpful. It’s not always about the stories. Looking at different ideas and writing styles can open up a whole new world.
IJNet: What has been your best story or work so far? Why?
PP: I have many favorites. Among them are:
- Some Shelter from Abuse for Afghan Women. Women in Afghanistan who have to kidnap their own children to keep them safe.
- World through the lens, but behind a veil
- Living life positively. As another World Aids Day goes by, we have to learn to look beyond the HIV-stigma so that life can be spent fruitfully and contentedly.
- Against Human Bondage
IJNet: What advice would you give aspiring journalists?
PP: Read, read, read! There is no getting away from this. Read everything you can lay your hands on - newspapers, websites, bits of paper your grocery come wrapped in. Everything can yield something; a story idea, something to change the way you think. Don’t let being young, a woman or a sheep among wolves ever stop you from being honest, enthusiastic and truly committed. Keep your mind so open that your brain threatens to fall out. Journalism isn’t dying out. Just some forms are undergoing changes. Words (either printed or sent over the info highway) will always rule and we're a part of the ruling party.
IJNet: Are there any training programs or schools that were particularly useful to you?
PP: The RNTC changed the way I thought about the Internet. Just as the NPF scholarship gave my career a new twist. Today the journalism program at USC is helping me think more critically. It’s always good to go back to university if you can after a few years in journalism. It helps us think better.