Connect 6: Thomson Foundation launches mentor programme

Take six of the brightest young journalists and connect them to six of the best in the industry and you have the recipe for Connect 6, a new, world-class mentoring programme from the Thomson Foundation. 

Launched to mark the foundation’s 60th year of nurturing, educating and training journalists globally, Connect 6 is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the lucky mentees who will enjoy one-to-one mentoring for six months with their own individual journalism expert. 

It’s such an exciting prospect that one of the mentees, Yashraj Sharma, the winner of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist of the Year award 2022, jumped off his chair when he heard his mentor was going to be the Pulitzer-prize winning, veteran journalist Ewen MacAskill. 

In response to the news, Yashraj texted: Wow! Will Ewen mentor me? I just jumped off my chair after reading the email.” 

Yashraj, who’s 22 and the interim editor at the Kashmir Walla, was not able to come to the UK to collect his award because he’s among a number of journalists who can’t leave Indian-administered Kashmir for legal reasons. Ewen says he is looking forward to mentoring him over what could be a difficult few months. “At such a young age, Yashraj has faced more obstacles than many journalists have faced in their whole career. My job will be to listen, advise and act as a sounding board for the stories he wants to tell. I’m looking forward to learning as much from him as I hope he will from me.” 


Joining Yashraj in the team of mentees will be the two other finalists from the Young Journalist of the Year award: Jyoti Yadav from India and Carlos Raúl Kestler from Guatemala. The remaining three were all applicants who performed highly in the competition. They are: Jamaima Afridi from Pakistan, Choon Chyuan Low from Malaysia and Najm Aldain Qasem from Yemen. 

My job will be to listen, advise and act as a sounding board for the stories he wants to tell.

Ewen MacAskill, journalist and Connect 6 mentor

Joining Ewen MacAskill as a mentor is a stellar cast of international journalists. They are: Patrick Greenfield, a reporter with Guardian Media writing about biodiversity loss, the climate crisis and possible solutions; Mohammed Komani, senior data editor and coach with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ); Saptarshi Ray, former India correspondent for The Telegraph and a freelancer with work published in many titles in London, Washington DC and India; Amber Rahim Shamsi, the Director of the Centre of Excellence in Journalism at the IBA University in Karachi and previously a bilingual journalist for the BBC World Service; Julie Shapiro, Executive Creative Director at Novel and previously the Vice President of Editorial at PRX and Executive Producer of Radiotopia from PRX, a curated network of independent, listener supported, and artist-owned podcasts. 

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