Meehika Barua, winner of our Journalism Now Scholar competition, tells us why she parked the architecture career to pursue journalism, why she was keen to enrol on Journalism Now's online courses, and her hopes from this year’s Thomson Foundation digital and multimedia summer course in London.
I wish I could say I knew the exact moment when I realised that architecture wasn't for me. I just couldn’t feel it in my veins as a promising career for myself, but I did love to write.
I tried to pitch some articles and ideas to editors at Thought Catalog, an online youth culture magazine in the US, which I had bookmarked on my internet browser and regularly visited. I was politely knocked back by two of the editors but landed a contributor role with another. This boosted my byline and proved a great asset to show other editors.
The skills you need to forge ahead in journalism are many. That's when I landed on Journalism Now.
I began to pitch more widely and was soon approached by the editor of The Quint, a multi-platform financial and news company in India. At this stage, I was just trying my luck in every niche – culture, entertainment, business, lifestyle, fashion, breaking news. Once I proved that I knew what I was doing, it turned into regular work.
What soon followed was not my big break, but at least it got me over the first real fence in my journalism career – an internship with Times Internet, the digital arm of the Times Group, the largest media conglomerate in India, and then a full-time staff writer role for its digital magazine, MensXP.com.
I tried my hand at a broad range of stories here, which I’m very proud of. From the Indian para-athlete who was forced to beg in Berlin after being left without money while competing abroad, and the heroic wing commander who gave up his life to save 169 people, to the Russian Uber scammers who were taking trips worth thousands by hacking into the accounts of Indian users.
There’s no doubt that the skills you need to forge ahead in journalism are many. I decided my next steps would be to search online for fellowships but I somehow landed on the Thomson Foundation website, and specifically, its Journalism Now Scholar competition.
To be eligible to enter, for a chance to win an all-expenses paid place on the Thomson Foundation five-week summer course in London, entrants had to complete five online courses from its Journalism Now programme.
The Journalism Now course subjects excited me and, having seen how experienced the course instructors were, I keenly enrolled on some of the courses.
It wasn’t my specific goal to try to win the competition. I actually never thought I’d win. I was just happy to be completing assignments that were designed by leading journalists and which involved experts from The Guardian, BuzzFeed, the BBC and The Telegraph. It was also great to be able to connect with a like-minded international community through the Journalism Now platform.
I’m now looking forward to spending five weeks in London to sharpen up my multi-platform journalism skills with some of the best industry mentors that the UK has to offer. Together with the Journalism Now programme, I’m sure the summer course will give me the best practical training I need to accelerate my journalism career.
With such experienced course instructors, I was keen to enrol on Journalism Now.
“It was impressive to see the quality of work and the great effort that all of the entrants put into the Journalism Now Scholar competition”, says Thomson Foundation’s director of innovation and learning, Hosam El Nagar.
“Meehika was chosen as our winner because of her very high scores in all of the courses she had undertaken, but also because of her active participation in the community. Congratulations to her”.