Tasneem Raja is the senior digital editor for NPR’s Code Switch, a blog and podcast that discusses issues of race, ethnicity, and culture, and how they affect all aspects of our lives. She will speak on the topic of diversity, more specifically in the modern-age newsroom, as one of the panelists at this year’s South Asian Journalists Association’s annual gala in Washington, D.C., taking place tomorrow night. Also Read - Chhattisgarh Election 2018 Results: Patan, Durg Rural, Durg City, Bhilai Nagar, Vaishali Nagar, Ahiwara, Saja, Bemetara, Nawagarh Vote Counting Live Updates
Raja said there’s never been a better time for her to be at her current job. Also Read - Amitabh Bachchan Birthday Post: Fun Facts to Know about the Bollywood Icon
“I came here because race and identity are incredibly important issues in American journalism right now, due to shifting demographics but also because of the burdens of our national history, and I felt it was important to be a part of this moment,” Raja said. Also Read - Hypokrit Theater Company Co-Founder Shubhra Prakash on Organizing Tamasha, a South Asian Arts Festival
And it’s never a dull moment for the journalist who spends her days editing scripts or chasing down a story when there’s breaking news. Her latest stories include “the recent shootings of unarmed black men and also of Dallas police officers at an anti-police-brutality protest.” Raja will also meet with her team to discuss upcoming Supreme Court decisions, what to cover next, and meet with freelance writers who want to share their personal experiences that revolve around race.
Becoming a journalist was something Raja was going to do, but she said her choice was solidified in graduate school at the University of California Berkeley, where she helped develop her school’s new multimedia program.
Since then, Raja has served as a judge for journalism awards at the Online News Association, was the editor of an award winning team of digital reporters and producers at Mother Jones, reported at the Chicago Reader, and helped launch a team of investigative journalists at the startup, The Bay Citizen. Her most notable work includes a 7,000-word piece on diversity in computer science and a piece discussing gender disparity in the ‘brogrammer’ culture of the Silicon Valley.
Raja’s become known as “one of the smartest people on Twitter” by Fast Company for her commentary on diversity and identity issues, something she says is constantly morphing into something new.
“The experience of South Asian Americans is endlessly varied, always changing, and truly fascinating. I think we occupy a complicated space as people of color in America who have certainly dealt with serious discrimination and obstacles here, but also have enjoyed access and privileges not often extended to black and Latino Americans,” Raja said. “As a desi who has achieved some measure of success, and especially one in a position to shape coverage of the experiences of Americans of color, I constantly check myself as to whether I am understanding the fullest possible picture of the story we are trying to tell. At this stage in my career, that is my greatest priority.”
Raja said her decision to become a journalist was one supported by her family—which is something she said she’s grateful for, and something she hopes all South Asian American families can experience.
“My family has always been incredibly supportive and proud of my work as a journalist. I never felt held back or passed over for being a girl. And I never felt that my parents were disappointed that I didn’t become a doctor or an engineer. I may just be lucky in this regard, but I hope that the stereotypes about pushy and impossible to please desi-American parents will become less common in the future,” Raja said.
The South Asian Journalists Association’s annual awards dinner takes place on July 16th, 2016, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. If you want to follow Raja on Twitter, you can here.