Deepti Hajela: Advocating Diversity and Media Excellence

Deepti Hajela: A Trailblazing Odyssey in Journalism

In the dynamic realm of American journalism, Deepti Hajela stands as a luminary, casting a vivid tapestry of stories that captivate the essence of the human experience. Since joining the Associated Press in 1996, Hajela has been an unyielding force, navigating the bustling corridors of news in the New York bureau with an insatiable curiosity for the world around her.

Capturing the Essence of New York: A Journalistic Odyssey of Deepti Hajela

Hajela’s journey through the New York bureau of the AP is a testament to her versatility. From breaking news to cultural features, she delves into the heart of the city, capturing its vivacity while also plumbing the depths of its underbelly.

Her forays into museums and galleries uncover intriguing exhibits, and on the flip side, she fearlessly analyzes the contentious issues of race and ethnicity that echo through the city streets.

In a recent conversation with Principal Correspondent Monika Joshi, Deepti Hajela reflects on her fascinating assignments. “I have had very supportive editors who have been open to my story ideas. I like to focus on issues of race and culture. I find them most interesting,” she shares.

Her passion for these issues emanates from a personal place – having come to the U.S. as a six-month-old with immigrant parents, she is intrigued by the ever-evolving tapestry of culture in America.

Meeting the Who’s Who: From Presidents to Harry Potter

One of the perks of her profession, Deepti Hajela acknowledges, is the proximity to fame. From presidents to world leaders, actors to celebrities, she has shared moments with individuals who shape the global narrative. Yet, what truly brings her joy is the opportunity to engage in conversations with people dedicated to their craft – be it academics, community leaders, or artists.

In the realm of pop culture, Deepti Hajela expresses a special affection for the wizarding world of Harry Potter. “I adore Harry Potter. I love writing the reviews. I love to read Harry Potter books. In fact, I devour them,” she exclaims. Her enthusiasm shines through as she eagerly anticipates the release of the latest installment, hoping to secure the coveted role of reviewing it.

A Passion for Diversity: Unveiling Personal Roots

Hajela’s interest in race and ethnicity is deeply personal, rooted in her immigrant background. She reflects on her fascination with issues of culture, what is retained, passed on, or discarded in the immigrant experience. “I am continually amazed by how the U.S. changes and is changed by people who live here and who come here,” she muses.

While her focus is not exclusively on South Asia, Deepti Hajela emphasizes that any story that challenges her is one she is thrilled to pursue. “I love stories where I learn something along the way, where reporting requires me to think about what questions I want to ask and what exactly am I trying to write about,” she explains.

From Aspiration to Realization: A Journalist’s Journey Unveiled

Hajela’s journey into journalism began at the age of 17, fueled by her love for books, writing, and an insatiable curiosity about the human experience. Her mother, a doctor, initially taken aback by the unconventional career choice, became her unwavering supporter.

Hajela emphasizes, “For me, work has always been of utmost importance. I want to be challenged, I want to be able to grow, I want to get better.”

Addressing the surge of Indian Americans in the media, Deepti Hajela attributes it to the evolving definitions of success for the younger generation. “They are more willing to take chances on what they want to do,” she notes, highlighting the shift from traditional professions to diverse career paths.

SAJA: A Decade of Community and Advocacy

Deepti Hajela’s role as the president of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) adds another layer to her impactful career. Founded in 1994, SAJA fosters connections among journalists from South Asia in North America and aims to enhance coverage of the region. Hajela, who assumed the role of president in January, is dedicated to furthering the organization’s mission.

Reflecting on SAJA’s achievements over the past decade, she emphasizes the creation of a supportive community. “When I first started journalism, there were not a lot of South Asians, it did not seem that way to me. It was wonderful to come across SAJA and talk to people and know there are other people who came from where I came from,” she says.

Future Endeavors: Nurturing SAJA’s Growth

As a leader within SAJA, Deepti Hajela acknowledges the need for long-term sustainability. While the organization thrives on volunteer efforts, she envisions a future with paid staff to ensure its smooth functioning. “We need to increase fundraising to help us get to the point where the programs continue to run smoothly for years,” she affirms.

Amid discussions about SAJA’s role in the wake of natural disasters, Deepti Hajela underscores the importance of keeping the media spotlight on affected regions. “As a journalist group, we can do the most good by creating opportunities for reporters to go and keep the media attention focused on a region so that people care about it for long,” she states.

Also Read: Vinita Chandra Nair: Trailblazing the Path of Journalism with Grace

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