Young journalist shows great promise
A student placement at Indian Link leads to a media award for Namita Gohil
Indian Link‘s Namita Gohil has won the Young Journalist of the Year Award at this year’s Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards. She impressed the judges with her body of work including a wide range of articles on community affairs and in-depth interviews.
The 21-year-old came to Indian Link six months ago as a student intern. A newly qualified but experienced journalist, she graduated in August this year with a Media and Communications degree from UNSW. While there, she won a scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania in the US where she undertook journalism studies. At both universities, Namita published extensively and built up an impressive portfolio of work that showcases her obvious talent for writing.
At Indian Link, Namita Gohil has contributed significantly with a list of well-received articles. These include her thoroughly researched pieces on Australia’s early Sikh heritage; environmental activism; healthy eating trends in today’s society; contemporary and postmodern art; youth activism and social entrepreneurship; and as a young woman of migrant background, the assimilation and integration into Australian society of others of her age and gender.
“It is so rewarding to know that other people have valued the work which I have produced, especially on topics which are so unique and contrary to the stereotypical Bollywood or cricket material in Indian media,” Namita told Indian Link.
Namita’s work clearly demonstrates an understanding of the issues well beyond her years, as well as a skilful way with words.
Namita has impressed also with her knack for picking up leads and following through stories which she understands will interest readers both within the Indian community and in the wider mainstream.
For example, her piece on environmental activist Ramesh Aggarwal (‘A shot at ending coal mining’) brought her accolades not only from Indian followers of the man, but also Australian supporters, many of whom have funded his campaigns in India. The piece received much feedback in print and was widely shared on social media; a request was also received for reprinting by an industry magazine.
Namita’s ‘Acknowledging the Sikh footprint in Australia’ was an extensively examined piece on the history and legacy of early Sikh settlers in this country. It received wonderful feedback: one Australian historian wrote in to acquaint us of her own work regarding the history of turbaned Indians from the late 1800s.
As a young person filled with aspirations herself, Namita is particularly interested in stories that see people follow through with their dreams and work hard to achieve them. Her feature on a Perth- based Indian-origin actor and model, which became the cover story ‘Bikinis as well as bindis’, advocated strongly for women of colour in the field of entertainment.
Her maiden attempt at being an art critic also came off quite successfully as she interpreted and analysed the meaning and quality of a visiting Indian artist’s work at the Sydney Biennale 2016.
Her Australian upbringing notwithstanding, Namita is very much in contact with her Indian roots, seeking out stories that will help her country of origin. Her piece on ultra-marathon runner Samantha Gash (‘A stride for India’s youth’) helped raise funds for projects addressing educational inequality.
Namita’s personal passion for healthy eating is also brought to play in her writing, such as in her analysis of vegetarianism in the piece ‘Whirled peas’.
These stories show off this young writer’s zest for life just as much as her versatile writing style.
Talking about her experience at Indian Link, Namita said, “I learnt a great deal about how a newspaper is put together – deciding on which articles will go in and on what pages, how the advertising is distributed across the pages and reconciled with the articles, and the depth of sub-editing and final revisions made for all the written work. I also learnt how the material from print is then transferred to online mediums (website and social media) and the variations that are required to be made for an online audience. It was an amazing experience! I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Kira Spucys-Tahar and others as they always valued my opinions and suggestions. I also liked having the opportunity to do different things as well as writing – watching the radio shows conducting interview and making gifs for the Facebook page.
Namita lists her piece on Perth model Chandrika Ravi as one she particularly enjoyed. It became a cover feature.
“I could sense the young woman’s desire to succeed in a lucrative industry, especially as she has been caught amongst two conflicting cultures. She was fun to interview, had a great, dynamic energy and this meant that I was able to get a lot of information and insight into her life and purpose,” Namita revealed. “I think what I enjoyed the most was writing about a young woman which so many people who read the paper can relate to, including myself – someone unique, different and determined to achieve something great. Chandrika is now on the path for success. It’s inspiring. ”
Among journalist role models that inspire her, Namita lists Caro Meldrum-Hanna, Max Murch and Sarah Ferguson. “I have much respect for anyone that is willing to go out, take risks and uncover horrors which are often invisible in our world.”
She devours news on a daily basis, especially from ABC, SBS, sometimes Al Jazeera, the Independent and The Economist.
“I also sometimes watch news segments on YouTube from sources like The Young Turks, which is supposedly non-partisan, but even then you can see a clear agenda so I try to make sure that I get my information from multiple sources. I still read the weekly community newspapers in print.”
Of course there is much about mainstream media that Namita finds disparaging.
“I basically find fear mongering and populist political stories really annoying such as why immigration, particularly Muslim immigration, should be banned since they provide no concrete justifications, just opinions. I am also really sick of how celebrity and PR stories are becoming more and more intertwined with real news stories. ”
What is she working on at the moment?
“I’m looking at an investigative report on the difficulties faced by young diasporic Indian women in Australia, the UK and the US, especially in college. Things like alcoholism, drug use, and sexual exploration is somewhat shunned in the community and not enough is being done to provide support to these people.”
Going forward, Namita is keen to use her award as a platform to take further opportunities in writing and reporting.
“I don’t want to write about trivial issues in India. I want to write about important things and critique standardised practises, mentalities and societal norms.
I want Indians to start recognising our soldiers, the activists who work relentlessly to campaign for social justice issues, the hardships faced by many and the health problems Indians today face. I want to encourage more dialogue about these things. I hope I can use the award to get some greater leverage and actually be recognised by organisations who have the resources to allow me to pursue more investigative type work.”
Go forth and make your mark, young Namita. At Indian Link we will be watching your career with great interest.