Knight International Journalism Fellowships

India: Engaging Citizens and Journalists for Better Health, Gender and Development Coverage


ICFJ Knight Fellows are promoting high quality and impact-driven health, gender and development news coverage by offering storytelling expertise and multimedia assistance to journalists at Dainik Jagran and Indian Express, two of the country’s top newsrooms. Their goal: To reinvent coverage of these critical issues and drive citizens and policymakers to make better and healthier decisions.

Currently, editorial planning in most Indian newsrooms tends to be informed by stories that drive web traffic, only scratching the surface of important issues as they emerge. The Fellows are helping journalists dig deeper into current problems associated with health, gender and development issues, surfacing underreported stories, and reporting them in ways that engage national audiences and motivate change.

Their strategy includes:

  • Drive engagement around critical issues by promoting innovative storytelling that makes reporting more interactive, data-driven and compelling for readers.
  • Build journalists’ expertise in finding, scraping and visualizing health, gender and development data. Develop in-house digital capabilities and understanding to help Indian newsrooms achieve digital transformation.
  • Reach audiences who continue to migrate online, particularly on mobile.
  • Use and create replicable open-source tools that are cost-effective and that can be adapted and repurposed by partner newsrooms as well as other news outlets to multiply and increase impacts.

The members of this team are:

  • H R Venkatesh, ICFJ Knight Fellow — Health Journalism
    Venkatesh has led editorial teams across broadcast and digital news media in India, including stints at The Quint, Change.org and CNN-IBN. As a Fellow, he provides key strategic and editorial support to our partner newsrooms, for in-depth and multimedia projects about health and development issues.
  • Neha Dixit, ICFJ Knight Fellow — Gender Journalism
    Dixit is an award-winning reporter who focuses on the coverage of gender issues. She is helping media partners use better tools and frameworks to increase the scope and quality of stories relating to class, caste, gender and development.
  • Ravi Bajpai, ICFJ Knight Fellow — Multimedia Journalism
    Bajpai has led multimedia and city reporting teams at mainstream newsrooms in India. He is an expert in mobile-based video storytelling, and is developing partner newsrooms’ expertise in interactive, multimedia storytelling, to help them better engage audiences online.
  • Ritvvij Parrikh, ICFJ Knight Fellow — Data Journalism
    Parrikh is an experienced technologist who specializes in product management, open-source tool development and data visualization and analysis. He is pioneering these skillsets in partner newsrooms by helping journalists to improve their visual storytelling and use of data.
  • Nasr ul Hadi, ICFJ Knight Fellow — Newsroom Innovation
    Hadi, the project strategist and in-country leader, is driving innovation in Indian newsrooms through the adoption of new technologies and digital-led best practices.
  • Shobha SV, Program Manager
    Shobha, an experienced online engagement manager and expert on gender issues, supports and tracks the Fellows’ work, ensuring maximum organizational and societal impact and the best possible audience engagement.

The team works closely with ICFJ Google Fellow Irshad Daftari who is helping Indian newsrooms in Mumbai to fully integrate the latest digital innovations into their storytelling and workflows. His Fellowship is supported by Google News Lab.

This project is also supported by a group of thematic and technical experts who provide digital, data and design skills. The technical services are provided by Pykih, a data-visualization and dashboard developer (founded by Parrikh). IndiaSpend, the country’s first data journalism initiative, is contributing key data analysis support.

The Fellows are also building and strengthening media networks in India to establish closer ties and collaborations among the country’s journalists and technologists. This includes leading Hacks/Hackers India and holding events such as hackathons, bootcamps and meetups that build journalists’ digital skills.