Jyoti Yadav is a journalist from New Delhi, working for India’s fastest growing news website The Print. She is a finalist in Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist Award 2022.
Jyoti’s stories chronicle the lives of three gang rape survivors and their pursuit of justice and a new life long after their stories have fallen from the headlines.
One of Jyoti’s stories focuses on Mathura, whose rape case exists in research papers, judicial history, essays on Indian feminist movement, but not in any official record. Mathura’s rapists were acquitted six years after the attack happened but Jyoti tracked her down to make sure her story isn’t forgotten and justice is served, even if it’s half a century late.
“Many of these survivors come from conservative, low-income backgrounds of Indian society – they are doubly disadvantaged,” explains Jyoti. “Most of these stories are decades old, and thus the foremost challenge was to trace the survivors, who had disappeared from the public eye. These women were merely existing as legal documents in the judicial system.”
Jyoti is clear on the importance of handling such cases with sensitivity and not feeding into the sensationalism which the stories initially garnered.
“It took a long time to get them to open up and articulate their deepest emotions. My aim was to portray their stories in a sensitive manner without sensationalising,” she says. "Beyond pain and fear, these are stories of courageous reinvention of their lives.”
Journalism has a responsibility to help readers understand their journeys in a non-intrusive manner – how they battle social stigma, loss of education, and livelihood.
The shortlist for the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award is judged by an external panel from the Foreign Press Association Awards.
This year’s panel includes top journalists such as Michael Crick, a British journalist for more than 30 years, who was also founding member of Channel 4 News; Stryker McGuire, former senior editor at Bloomberg Markets; Megha Mohan, the BBC’s first gender and identity correspondent; and Chair of the FPA judges, Alessandro Allocca, a freelance journalist working for the Italian daily newspaper, La Repubblica.
One of the judges praised Jyoti's competition entry as having "one of the strongest opening lines of any story I’ve ever read, it’s really stuck with me. Really good writing.”
Very compelling, a very good journalist.
When our judges are choosing the finalists for the Young Journalist Award, they are looking for those stories with the power to go beyond the page and make a real-world impact. Jyoti’s work did just that.
“The stories created a much-required stir in India. This also led to multiple follow-ups by other reporters on other gender crimes. Many offered to contribute to their legal fees and help them rehabilitate their lives,” says Jyoti. “Journalism is important to make sense of what is happening around us and empower people to question structures of hierarchy, power and injustice. A powerful story can create empathy, shift the public conversations and priorities, and most importantly, it gives voice to those who are deliberately silenced.”
I am extremely honoured to be a finalist. This recognition will help change the gaze on how we cover crimes against women. But this award isn't for me. It is for the women, I am just a storyteller.
In partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA), the annual award enables journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US$20,000 to send in their best stories.
In 2022, a remarkable number of entries arrived from all over the world – Cameroon to Colombia, Ukraine to Uganda and Egypt to Ecuador. Each entrant needed to submit a portfolio of three published pieces of work produced in the 12 months preceding the deadline for submissions which was August 12th, 2022.
Thomson Foundation judges looked over the entries and selected the shortlist based on criteria including originality, endeavour, interest to audiences, and the anticipated or actual impact of the story after publication or broadcast.
The winner - Yashraj Sharma - was announced at the FPA Awards ceremony on 28 November 2022 in London.