With her article about illegal recyclers in Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi, Mansi Choukney won The Globe Post’s 2019 writing contest. In this interview, Mansi talks about her home country India, what inspired her to become a journalist, and her career goals.
We are happy to announce that Mansi Chouksey (@mansichouksey) is our 2019 writing contest winner! Her article about recyclers in Asia’s biggest slum Dharavi emerged as the best overall product. Thanks to everyone who competed! https://t.co/tGSJQDQaJw
— The Globe Post (@TGlobePost) July 16, 2019
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a journalist? What moved you toward this profession?
Mansi: In 2008, journalist J. Gopalkrishnan published a series of reports on irregularities within India’s central government’s auction of 2G spectrum to some private companies. It came out to be a $40 billion alleged scam by some senior politicians and officials in the then coalition government led by the Congress party.
His reporting not only triggered litigation but also changed Indian politics forever. This incident had a huge impact on me as it made me realize how important the work of a journalist is and the impact it could create.
Q: Who or what has had the biggest influence on you as a journalist and why?
Mansi: Apart from the excellent work of J. Gopalkrishna in India, I was influenced by the Panama Papers coverage worldwide and how journalists from different countries collaborated and contributed to the investigation.
As a rookie journalist, I have been influenced by two of my mentors, they have helped me shape my career and have always encouraged me to take up new challenges in a newsroom. My professors at the Asian College of Journalism were kind enough to provide me with their guidance and advice to improve my skills at reporting.
Visiting guest faculty such as former Editor-in-Chief of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger and Palagummi Sainath, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and eminent journalist, helped me gain perspective towards the changing dynamics of journalism in India and abroad.
Q: When it comes to your home country, India, what do you think other people/reporters should pay attention to?
Mansi: According to the 2018 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, India was listed among the most dangerous places for journalists. In the last 26 years, more than 48 journalists have lost their lives in India. Indian newsrooms are now becoming increasingly polarized. There is a censoring of reporter stories and reports are often tempered [with] or presented in a manner to support a particular political slant that a news organization favors.
My request to fellow reporters is that, if possible, they should try to fight this mounting pressure and make their stories heard or read on politically neutral media platforms.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as a writer? What is your goal?
Mansi: I aspire to become an investigative journalist and write about under-reported issues in my country and abroad. I am a Features Reporter and Assistant Producer at an Indian TV news channel and it is hard for me to work on time-consuming projects on my own.
I hope someday I will write elaborated reports and books documenting the tribal conflict in Bastar (Chattisgarh, India), Impact of Armed Forces (Special Power) Act in Manipur (a small insurgency-prone state in India), and the conflict at the India-Pakistan and the India-China border and how it affects populace in these areas.
Q: What tips would you give other writers thinking of entering a competition?
Mansi: When I work on a report, my sole purpose is to highlight a particular issue and its impact, even if I am writing it for a competition. I like to think that journalism contests are an opportunity to present my earnest work to esteemed editors for their review. Even if I don’t win, I will have a body of work that I can later develop and any feedback could help me improve it.
If I think a story is important enough to be highlighted, then others might agree too. Also, before I start writing I ensure that I have done in-depth research, thorough groundwork, and have a complete understanding of the subject.