KUALA LUMPUR: Tharanya Arumugam, an accomplished journalist with the New Straits Times, Malaysia has been awarded the esteemed United Nations Reham al-Farra (RAF) Journalism Fellowship.
The 2023 RAF programme is set to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the United States, from Sept 13 to 29.
Among the 2023 cohort, Tharanya stands out as one of the 12 distinguished fellows, selected from a competitive pool of 41 veteran fellows hailing from the previous virtual RAF classes of 2021 and 2022.
NST group editor Farrah Naz Karim said the brand is committed to developing the skills and strengths of its team members.
“Allowing NST journalists and editors time off to engage in international fellowships and seminars, where they can glean valuable experiences is always good for their professional development,” she said.
Joining Tharanya in this cohort are fellows from various corners of the globe; Mauro Calvagna from Argentina, Deandre Williamson from The Bahamas, Redwan Ahmed from Bangladesh, Mariana Araújo from Brazil, Emmanuella Wvemnyuy from Cameroon, Susana Roa from Ecuador, Aminata Sanyang from The Gambia, Jagdishor Panday from Nepal, Alao Abiodun from Nigeria, Mara Cepeda from the Philippines and; Wani Isaac Kenyi from South Sudan.
“Being chosen as a UNRAF fellow presents an incredible opportunity to report on the United Nations General Assembly in New York, engaging in global discourse and sharing stories,” Tharanya said.
This programme, she said, also provides an unparalleled chance to network with journalists, diplomats, experts, and officials from around the world.
“I am eager to delve into in-depth reporting that goes beyond surface-level narratives, providing contextual analysis that captures the very essence of UNGA78 deliberations.
“This includes stories that highlight the human consequences of its decisions, whether pertaining to climate change or conflict resolution. Such stories shed light on the real-world impacts of global policies.
“I am looking forward to immersing myself in this experience and fulfilling my role as a journalist representing Malaysia on the international stage,” said Tharanya, who is currently part of the NST digital team, overseeing NST’s digital operations alongside her role as a specialist writer.
She is part of a dynamic team in elevating digital strategies for enhanced audience engagement.
During the fellowship, she will focus on global health, AI and innovation and climate justice, examining best practices in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The programme was conducted virtually in 2021 and 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Tharanya was among the 22 promising young journalists selected for the 2022 RAF Memorial Journalism virtual programme, chosen from a pool of 700 applicants.
During the comprehensive three-week programme in New York, fellows will cover the UN General Assembly, attend special briefings, conduct interviews with senior officials and engage in meaningful exchanges with colleagues from around the globe.
Past participants have had the privilege of meeting the UN Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, President of the General Assembly, and permanent representatives to the United Nations. They have also visited the New York Times, Democracy Now! and BuzzFeed.
The RAF Fellowship was mandated in December 1980 by UN General Assembly Resolution 35/201.
Formerly known as the DPI Training Programme for Broadcasters and Journalists from Developing Countries, the programme was renamed in 2003 in honour of Reham Al-Farra, a 29-year-old Jordanian public information officer who was killed in the Aug 19, 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
Since its inception in 1981, the fellowship has recognised 652 journalists from 168 countries, fostering international cooperation and exchange in the field of journalism and promoting global understanding of the United Nations and its mission.
Tharanya, who specialises in public health, climate, and science reporting, commenced her journey with the New Straits Times as a news desk reporter in July 2013. Known for her in-depth approach to hard news reporting, she has pioneered long-form journalism that has garnered her a loyal following of readers.
Tharanya’s commitment and impactful journalism have earned her multiple accolades, including the National Press Club Young Journalist of the Year award in 2014, presented by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. She had also clinched the Malaysian Press Institute Best News Report award and the A. Samad Ismail Young Journalist Award in 2015.
She has also represented the country and the NST in international conferences and programmes held in Dubai, Turkiye, Bangkok and Cambodia.
Tharanya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of South Australia. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Chevening scholarship, which enabled her to pursue a Master’s in Science in International Relations at the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, graduating with distinction. – NST Online