Current Journalism Fellowships
2019 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Humayoon Babur (Afghanistan)
Humayoon is a distinguished reporter from Afghanistan. He works for the Pasbanan Media Group in Kabul and has written about a wide variety of topics in the war-torn country, from combat and car bombs to corruption and the effectiveness of foreign aid. He writes in the languages of Pashtu, Dari as well as English. He’s written extensively on environmental issues, including recent stories on groundwater contamination and disputes over water, one of which won an award from the International Water Management Institute.
Babur, who is a deputy and instructor for the Afghanistan Journalists Council, will return to Kabul with the skills and knowledge to become a more effective journalist and a leader in the profession. “I will hone my craft as a journalist,” Babur wrote in his application, “proudly serving to uphold responsible and balanced journalism, equipped with the leadership skills to make a lasting impact.”
Previous Journalism Fellows
2018 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Farah Ajlouni (Jordan)
Farah Ajlouni is a news anchor and correspondent for Jordan TV’s daily English news program. She has reported on issues such as women’s rights, the Syrian refugee crisis, ISIS on border regions, and farmer irrigation problems. “I used my journalistic instinct to identify people or communities I can help, to reduce poverty and empower women.” After the training program at the Missouri School of Journalism, she started working at the CBS News 60 Minutes program.
2017 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Nicholas Cheng (Malaysia)
Nicholas is working at the San Francisco Chronicle and one month at the Los Angeles Times. He is a reporter for The Star in Malaysia and is one of the few journalists covering crime and conflict in Malaysia. “There is an unexplainable electricity I feel when chasing a story with the understanding that journalists can truly, genuinely make a difference.”
Salman Yousafzai (Pakistan)
Salman is working at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He is a reporter for the Frontier Post and a contributor to the Dawn news website. He covers crime and terrorism: “Here, in Peshawar, due to many social, cultural, political pressures and due to threats to life very few journalists dare to write the truth.”
2016 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Amal Khan (Pakistan)
Amal Khan is working at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the Los Angeles Times. Amal is Features Editor at The Nation and was previously Op-ed editor for the same publication. Amongst other things, in daily editorials, she covered some of the country’s most drastic human rights crises, the rise of indigenous terrorism, government-army relations and the North Waziristan military operation.
2015 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Arooj Zahra (Pakistan)
Zahra is working at The Pulitizer Center on Crisis Reporting after working at the Washington Post. Zahra is a Associate Producer at GEO News. She is also a free-lance journalist and documentary filmmaker, as well as former sub-editor Daily Times English and Express 24/7 English news channels. Her areas of interest are terrorism, conflict, and politics. Zahra is also currently working on several documentaries on Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Saher Baloch (Pakistan)
Baloch is working at the Los Angeles Times. Featured writer and reporter for the national and metro pages of Dawn, the nation’s most respected and read English news outlet. Responsibilities include working on special assignments, and topics have included the discovery of a mass grave in Balochistan and members of the Hindu minority facing forced religious conversions.
2014 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Kiran Nazish (Pakistan)
Nazish worked at The New York Times in New York City. Kiran is an award-winning freelance journalist who has reported from some of the most dangerous places in Pakistan on issues of conflict and the aftermath of war. She worked as a reporter, print editor, TV and radio producer/director and trainer.
Asma Ghribi (Tunisia)
Ghribi worked at Wall Street Journal in New York City. Asma is a freelance journalist and the Tunisia Transitions blogger for Transitions: Foreign Policy Magazine. She was the managing editor of Tunisia live, the country’s first English-language news portal, covering the unfolding democratic transition in her country.
2013 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Emran Hossain (Bangladesh)
Emran is a staff reporter at Bangladesh’s first online newspaper, bdnews24.com, in Dhaka, where he covers special assignments and works on the English desk of the bilingual newspaper, since 2012. During his Daniel Pearl Fellowship, he worked at the Huffington Post in Washington, D.C.
Khalid Khattak (Pakistan)
Khalid is a staff reporter for The News International in Lahore, where he has been covering education, youth affairs, health and social issues. During his Daniel Pearl Fellowship he worked at The Wall Street Journalin Washington, D.C.
2012 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Aida Ahmad (Malaysia)
Aida is a reporter for The Star, Malaysia’s largest English-language newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, since 2010. In 2011, she transferred to the paper’s daily Star Metro section. She covers current events and issues in Kuala Lumpur and nearby regions, as well as local and national politics. Aida is based in Selangor, Malaysia.
2011 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Emal Naweed Haidary (Afghanistan)
Emal is a correspondent in Kabul for the Agence France Presse (AFP). Determined to contribute to peace in his war-torn country, he started the Afghanistan Peace Research Center which focuses on journalism and peace-building. Although his center is still in its infancy, he plans to start a comprehensive peace education curriculum to implement in local schools, as well as start programs that empower women to speak out about their struggles. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers,” he says.
Aatekah Ahmad Mir (Pakistan)
Aatekah is a senior sub-editor for The Express Tribune, a partner of the International Herald Tribune in Lahore, Pakistan, since 2009. Her primary responsibilities include selecting and assigning news stories as well as supervising the newspaper layout. Previously she worked for the South Asian Free Media Association and for the South Asian Policy Analysis Network. Additionally, she worked as an assistant editor for the News On Sunday and as a correspondent for ARY One World. Aatekah has followed trends in Pakistani politics such as negative political ads and the dismissal of hundreds of cases against terrorists.
2010 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Aoun Sahi (Pakistan)
Aoun is a reporter/bureau chief for The News on Sunday, the weekend magazine of The News International in Islamabad. Based at the headquarters in Lahore, he covers crime, environment, minority issues, militancy, politics, security, and social issues. He is also an Islamabad-based Pakistan correspondent for The Times of London as well as a Pakistan representative for Prince Steer International Films, a Los Angeles based film company. He has also contributed to articles in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times as a special correspondent. “The fellowship has given me the power to speak out and to write on the issues which are otherwise considered untouchable. I strongly believe that getting killed for a cause is much better than staying alive without an aim. I just want to say to the coming Daniel Pearl Fellows that it is a great opportunity for them to understand American society and real journalism, so try to grab it with both hands.”
Nasry Ahmed Esmat (Egypt)
Nasry is Managing Editor of News and Finance, as well as Senior News Editor for Yahoo! in Cairo. He is a moderator and co-editor of EMAJmagazine. Nasry has worked as a reporter and copy editor at Al-Ahramnewspaper in Cairo, covering judicial events, as well as an interactivity editor and trainer for the independent new portal Filbalad.com. As a Fulbright Scholar at New York University, he studied digital and innovative journalism. In the summer of 2011, after the fall of the Mubarak regime, he went to Cairo to take part in rebuilding his home country by teaching quality journalism and social media skills to journalists and civil society activists.
2009 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Sherine El Madany (Egypt)
Sherine is a reporter covering an array of government-in-transition issues for Reuters. She has used important lessons from witnessing the decline of newspapers in the United States to help prepare Egypt for the digital age. “The lessons I learned through my participation in the fellowship are ample: enhanced interviewing and reporting techniques, better writing skills, blogging, but at the top of my list is multimedia journalism. This is why I plan to focus on training my colleagues to effectively use multimedia tools to support their text stories.” Sherine has also written for Bloomberg Businessweek, The Christian Science Monitor, and Daily News Egypt, among other publications.
Shahzada Irfan Ahmed (Pakistan)
Shahzada is a senior correspondent at The News on Sunday, the weekend magazine of The News International in Islamabad. Shahzada covers the economy, health, human rights, information technology, social issues, telecommunications and law. He also works as a visiting lecturer at Punjab University, where he teaches Master’s students in journalism. Shahzada contributes regularly to local, regional, and international publications including Newsline Pakistan, Himal Southasian, IPS Features Service, Scidev.net, and Geneva-based Intellectual Property Watch (IP-Watch). He applies the lessons he learned from his fellowship to his newsroom by advocating for “more space for stories about people and shrink the expansive political coverage” while also making the website more dynamic and interactive for users.
2008 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Umar Cheema (Pakistan)
Umar is an investigative reporter at The News International in Islamabad, covering corruption, national security, politics, and intelligence agencies. He co-founded the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan (CIRP) in 2012, which published two groundbreaking reports exposing rampant tax evasion among top Pakistani politicians.
As a result of Umar’s commitment to this cause in 2014 Pakistan became just the fourth country in the world to make tax records public. His campaign on transparency helped to expedite the introduction of right to information law by a provincial government. He has been part of ICIJ’s landmark investigations including Panama Papers.
Umar was abducted and tortured in September 2010 after exposing official corruption through his investigative work. In defiance of his perpetrators and despite continued intimidation, he remained committed to a “collective struggle no matter what would be the cost… silence is not a solution.” Emboldened by his courageous stand, five journalists filed police complaints and came out publicly with their own stories of torture.
In acknowledgment of his achievements, Umar received the 2013 Knight International Journalism Award. In 2011 he received the Committee to Protect Journalist’s International Press Freedom Award, the Martha Gellhorn Award, and the Free Speech Award from The Tully Free Speech Center of Syracuse University. In 2016, World Economic Council named him among the Young Global Leaders. He has served on the boards of Global Investigative Journalism Network and Finance Uncovered.
Umar says that his Daniel Pearl Fellowship (DPF) “wasn’t a help in professional development only but in my personality development as well. It taught me how to put a brave posture in the face of adversity. I learned how to stand firm for the sake of truth, strive for noble cause and stay strong in time of crisis. DPF offers me a vivid reminder all the time: Rise above personal considerations for some greater cause.
Utku Çakirözer (Turkey)
Utku was recently elected to the Turkish Parliament from the People’s Party. Before that he was the Bureau Chief of Cumhuriyet, a highly respected newspaper, and the oldest in Turkey. Since the completion of his fellowship, he has worked as the Ankara Bureau Chief at Aksam, the fourth largest newspaper in Turkey. He also completed a Fulbright – Humphrey Fellowship during the 2008-2009 academic year. One thing he took from the Daniel Pearl Fellowship was the importance of building “a strong bond between the audience and the story” by including, like Danny, the “human angle in all possible reporting… I think this will constitute an indispensable principle of my future career as a journalist.”
2007 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Amr Emam (Egypt)
Amr is a senior reporter at The Egyptian Gazette, Cairo’s oldest English-language daily newspaper. Since his fellowship, Amr’s passion for balanced reporting has placed him on the forefront of Egypt’s most pressing issues. He has covered Egypt’s transition to democracy. He has followed the unions’ attempt to give a voice to marginalized groups, as well as debates over the intentions of the military rulers. Amr promptly posted on Facebook: “Morsi foolishly oversteps his authority and greatly overestimates his appeal.” In light of major demonstrations, Morsi annulled his decree on December 8th, 2012. Previously, Amr worked for IRIN News the United Nations’ news website, which covers stories not typically covered by mainstream media.
2006 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Ghanashyam Ojha (Nepal)
Since October 2013 Ghanashyam has been the Manager of Communications and Political Affairs at the Office of the Investment Boardin Kathmandu, Nepal. He coordinates with local media, political parties, and civic leaders about communication strategies. Previously he was a Political Analyst and Communications Specialist at the Carter Center Mission in Nepal, where he met regularly with senior political leaders, media professionals, and bureaucrats to find ways to cooperate with Nepal’s peace and constitutional process. Ghanashyam also worked as a journalist at Republica English Daily in Kathmandu from 2008-2009 and spent a decade as Senior Reporter at The Kathmandu Post from 1998-2008. “I learned good journalism during my Fellowship period in the United States and through Danny’s friends in the Berkshires,” he says. “The fellowship provided me an opportunity to understand Danny, his humor and his passion for music. I got to learn American values and society. Journalism, for me, is something which serves the society by being a vehicle for truthful information.”
Shahid Hussain Shah (Pakistan)
Shahid is a journalist and blogger who, upon returning to Karachi, started an organization to train new journalists. He also began work doing “In-charge District Reporting” at The News. He dedicated his extensive blog for journalism resources in Pakistan to Daniel Pearl, an American journalist killed in Pakistan “As a Daniel Pearl Fellow and AFPF fellow myself, I’ll share my skills and experience of reporting and writing on these pages. The good work that I did was certainly the result of my Daniel Pearl Fellowship, which taught me how to research stories and find news.”
2005 Daniel Pearl Fellows
Ammara Durrani (Pakistan)
Ammara is an independent polymath professional and management consultant with 14 years of leadership experience in Knowledge, Strategy, Management, Media and Advocacy specialization in diverse sectors. She works with international, regional and national organizations on a range of strategic programmatic initiatives in areas of Conflict, Peacebuilding & Counter-Violent Extremism; Democracy & Governance; Media Development & Freedom of Information; Public Diplomacy, Arts, Culture & Strategic Communications; and Gender, Youth & Children.
Previously, Durrani served as Pakistan Country Director at Search for Common Ground (2012-2014); General Manager Public Outreach, Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (2011-2012); Project Director & Strategic Communications Specialist at Federal Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan (2008-2011) where she worked extensively on building Pakistani media and civil society’s awareness on countering terrorism and violent extremism; and Development Outreach & Communications Specialist at U.S. Agency for International Development Mission Pakistan (2006-2008). She also served as Coordinator of the annual global World Social Forum2006 held in Karachi (2005-2006).
Prior to her management roles, Durrani worked as a journalist in the capacities of Senior Correspondent and Assistant Editor with The News International, Pakistan (2001-2006). She also has the distinction of being the second Daniel Pearl/Alfred Friendly/Helen Baldwin Press Fellow whereby she worked at Los Angeles Times and Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles in Los Angeles, U.S.A (2005). You can read Ammara’s full biography here.
Walid Al-Saqaf (Yemen)
Dr. Walid Al-Saqaf is a Senior Ted Fellow, software inventor, online news innovator, educator, and expert on international Internet freedom issues. He is part of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group Arab Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and a Fellow of the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). In 2011, Walid was appointed director of the International Master’s degree program at Örebro University. He applied what he learned during his Daniel Pearl Fellowship to teach postgraduate students investigative journalism. Recently, he co-founded the Internet Society Yemen Chapter and has curated the Sana’a Hub for the Global Shapers Community (an initiative by the World Economic Forum). Walid also organized Yemen’s first and only TEDx conferences in 2012 and 2013 (TEDxSanaa). Additionally he was awarded by Democracy Award (2010) from Örebro University. Walid holds a Master’s Degree in Global Journalism, and recently received his Ph.D. in Media and Communication from Örebro University.
In 2007, Walid started Yemen Portal, an Arabic news aggregation website, to highlight news stories that were often sidelined due to censorship in the Middle East. Through his site, he provided a platform for voices calling for change and an end to corruption, nepotism, and oppression in Yemen. The Yemeni regime shut access to the Yemen Portal in 2008. In response, Walid started a global effort to combat Internet censorship not only in Yemen, but across the world, through a software program he created named Alkasir, (Arabic for ‘the circumventor’). Alkasir has been installed more than 80,000 times in over a hundred countries, allowing citizens to access news and social media sites blocked by authoritarian regimes. The circumvention of the censorship and ability to freely access the internet, thanks to Alkasir, was instrumental in the spread of the Arab Spring. Walid’s doctoral thesis which was published in 2014 was titled “Breaking Digital Firewalls: Analyzing Internet Censorship and Circumvention in the Arab World” and focused largely on Alkasir.
2003 Daniel Pearl Fellow
Fasih Ahmed (Pakistan)
In September 2010, Fasih launched Newsweek Pakistan, the first English-licensed international news magazine. For his unparalleled coverage of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2008, Fasih won the New York Press Club’s Best Spot News Award. He has reported for Newsweek International and Newsweek.com since 2007. He was the inaugural Daniel Pearl Fellow and worked at the Washington Bureau of The Wall Street Journal.