Zuha Siddiqui from Pakistan is a labour and tech reporting fellow for the global non-profit publication Rest of World. She’s one of three finalists nominated for the Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist Award 2023.
Zuha, who is 29, has worked as a journalist for five years and says her stories overwhelmingly focus on holding government bodies to account.
For her investigation published by VICE news into the link between environmental pollution and the deaths of 16 children and three adults in Karachi, Zuha interviewed one man whose wife and three children had died within days of getting sick.
“These aren't stories I necessarily like to tell because reporting them is a deeply uncomfortable experience, both for me and for the sources that I end up interviewing. But these are stories I have to tell because it is my responsibility as a journalist to do so,” says Zuha.
Having [these stories] recognised and appreciated has made me more resolute and dogged in my approach to reporting
“The stories that I inevitably end up telling are about the human cost of macroeconomic policies and decisions taking place at the government or policy level far, far removed from the towns, the neighbourhoods and the fields where the aftershocks of these policies are felt,” says Zuha.
The ability to humanise the big picture and connect to audiences is a technique used to great effect in her story for Rest of World on the long-range impact of internet shutdowns with young tech workers threatening to leave Pakistan.
The shortlist is judged by an external panel from the Foreign Press Association Awards. This year’s panel are journalists Marcela Gutiérrez Bobadilla (W Radio, Mexico), Tristan de Bourbon-Parme (La Libre Belgique, Belgium), and Antonella Zangaro (il Giornale, Italy).
The panel says Zuha’s stories have ‘emotional impact’. “She interviewed the most affected people and gave a human face to air pollution, climate change and the shutdown of the internet in Pakistan.”
Zuha says being nominated ‘is incredibly inspiring’. “These stories are important and having them recognized and appreciated has encouraged me to remain dogged and resolute in my approach to reporting,” says Zuha
In partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA), the annual award is open to journalists aged 30 and under, from countries with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of less than US$20,000.
Each entrant needs to submit a portfolio of three published pieces of work produced in the 12 months preceding the deadline for submissions which was August 11th, 2023.
The winner will be announced at the Foreign Press Association Awards in London, UK on November 20, 2023.