Women’s representation in Mass media or Journalism is shaping the way society looks at women. Has their representation managed to transcend stereotypes such as women are often assigned to cover ‘soft beats’ such as Lifestyle and Fashion while men predominate in the ‘hard beats’ of politics, economy, sports and war? But What Kind of spaces do they really occupy? There are a lot of women journalists in India who are not only famous but also experts in skills and presentations. We discuss how they got into journalism and share their experience in the field. Women who have become an inspiration for aspiring journalists and have gone above and beyond their call of duty. Here we are detailing the top 14 female journalists who transformed the journalism field.
1. Homai Vyarawalla
Homai Vyarawalla was the first Indian female to beat the challenges of society and become the first female photojournalist in India. But her career also documented the overthrow of British colonial rule. Homai Vyarawalla was born on 9th December 1913 in Gujarat. Her family soon moved to Mumbai where she completed her education with an honours degree from Bombay University and attended the JJ School of Art. Her photos were first published under her husband’s name who was also a photographer. In 1942 Vyarawalla moved to Delhi to join the British Information Services. She was awarded the National Photo Award for ‘Lifetime Achievement in 2010 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2011’. Homai Vyarawalla died on 15th January 2012 in Vadodara. She was the only professional woman photojournalist between 1939 and 1970. She captured some unforgettable moments during India’s struggle for independence and the post-independence period. Such as
- Lord Mountbatten’s last salute as the Governor-General.
- The funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi.
- Mohammad Ali Jinnah at his last press conference before leaving for Pakistan.
2. Vidya Munshi
Vidya Munshi was the first working female journalist in India. She was born on 5th December 1919 in Mumbai (Bombay), worked at the Blitz (10 years) and several newspapers and magazines. She decided to set off for England alone to study medicine in 1938. In 1942 she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and was introduced to the power of posters in 1943. In 1945, she attended the Women’s International Democratic Federation’s conference in Paris as a girl student representative of the All India Students Federation. She died on 8th July 2014 in Kolkata. She reported on the gold smuggling in aeroplanes and on the Chinakuri mine disaster in Asansol where hundreds of miners were killed.
3. Devyani Chaubal
Devyani Chaubal believed that her word was final and no one had the courage to take up cudgels against her. The first women journalists to cover cinema in the country. Devyani Chaubal was born on December 1942 in Maharashtra. She wrote the gossip column “Frankly Speaking” in the film magazine Star and Style. She also wrote for Eve’s Weekly magazines. Her column struck fear in the hearts of film stars and riled all the actors and directors in the theatre stories and used to get amazing stories about what everyone was up to. Devyani was the first journalist to refer to Rajesh Khanna as a “superstar” and she once said Anil Kapoor looks like “an ordinary pickpocket. She passed away on 13 July 1995. She is the ‘Devi of Yellow Journalism.
4. Pratima Puri
Pratima Puri was the first television newsreader (Anchor) in India. She was born in Shimla ( Himachal Pradesh). she completed her education at Indraprastha college for women and started her media career at the All India Radio station in Shimla itself. Pratima was shifted to New Delhi When All India Radio had its first telecast(five-minute bulletins) on 15 September 1959. Her voice was sweet and her news reading style was also very attractive. Her most iconic interviews include Yuri Gagarin (the first man in space) and various actors and politicians. Pratima Puri passed away in 2007 but she is undoubtedly an inspiration for all journalists.
5. Salman Sultan
Salman sultan is remembered for presenting the daily bulletin with a rose tucked low in her hair. She managed to get a traditional look with a modern twist. She was born on 16 March 1947. She completed her post-graduation in English Literature from Indraprastha College, Delhi. She joined Doordarshan in 1967 as a newsreader (Anchor) for 30-year from 1967 till 1997. She also worked as a director and directed the serials on social topics for Doordarshan such as Panchtantra Se, Suno Kahani, Swar Mere Tumhare and Jalte Sawal drew attention. She gave the first news of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination on 31 October 1984. She couldn’t stop her tears even as she had to focus on delivering her duties as the newsreader.
6. Sagarika Ghose
Sagarika Ghose is a well-known face in TV journalism and she is also a columnist and author. Sagarika was born on 8 November 1964, in New Delhi. She completed her education with a bachelor’s degree in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and M.Phil. from St Antony’s College, Oxford. As a journalist with a wide-ranging experience in both print and electronic media. She has worked at The Times of India, Outlook magazine and The Indian Express. She was a prime-time television news anchor on BBC World’s “Question Time India”. She was a prime-time TV anchor and deputy editor of the TV news network CNN-IBN. She is the author of the best-selling biography, Indira, India’s Most Powerful Prime Minister (2017) and the polemical work, Why I Am A Liberal (2018) A Manifesto for Indians who believe in individual freedom and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, titled Vajpayee, India’s Most Loved Prime Minister in 2021. She is also the author of two novels, The Gin Drinkers and Blind Faith. She became the first woman to host Question Time India in 2004. Ghose is a popular and widely read columnist and she is currently consulting editor with the Times of India.
7. Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt is one of India’s best-known journalists and television anchors. Barkha Dutt was born on 18th December 1971 in New Delhi. She completed her a Master’s degree in Mass Communication at the Jamia Millia Islamia Mass Communication Research Centre in Delhi. Later she completed again her Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York. She started her media career with NDTV and left in 2017. She currently runs the YouTube-based news channel MoJo Story and published a book, Humans of COVID: To Hell and Back. She earned national attention after covering the Kargil war from the ground in 1999 and received the Padma Shri award for her coverage of the 2004 Tsunami. His reputation as a fearless journalist who reports from some of the most dangerous places in the world.
8. Anjana Om Kashyap
Anjana om Kashyap is one of the most recognized television personalities in India. She was born on 12th June 1975 in Ranchi. She is the executive editor of the Indian news channel Aaj Tak and she is known for her shows Halla Bol and Aaj Tak Ki Khas Report. She completed her schooling in Bihar and graduated from Delhi’s Daulat Ram College and did her Diploma in Journalism from Jamia Millia Islamia College Delhi in 2002. In 2003, she started her journey to become an anchor with Doordarshan’s “Aankhon Dekhi” program. After working for 5 years in Zee News, in 2007, Anjana became a part of News 24‘s show “Do Tuk”. In 2008, Anjana joined the India Today Group channel, Aaj Tak. She also received the 2015 Best Reporter and Best Anchor in 2014. Anjana is a source of inspiration for millions of people today.
9. Vartika Nanda
Vartika Nanda was the first female crime reporter on electronic media in the country. She was born in Punjab. She worked with Zee News, NDTV (as the head crime beat) and Lok Sabha TV. She was the first Executive Producer of Lok Sabha TV. She has devoted herself to media teaching, practice, training and creating awareness towards the issues of crime against women through media and literature. With a PhD in Journalism on the topic “prisons, the relationship between police, crime and the persecution of victims, gender reporting and portrayal of women in media.” Vartika heads the Department of Journalism at Lady Shri Ram College at Delhi University. She also has taught TV journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) as Associate Professor for three years. Vartika is a Prison Reformer and Founder of the Tinka Tinka movement. She said, ‘Life in jails is difficult and full of pressure. There are many in jails who have not committed any crime’. Her important work is bringing radio into many jails of the country. In 2019, the country’s oldest prison building installed a radio in the Agra District Jail. She is credited with bringing radio to the jails of Haryana in 2021. All these efforts of her brought significant changes in the life of the prisons.
10. Sweta Singh
If you ever watched Aaj Tak, then you may have seen Sweta Singh. She is the newsreader and executive editor at Aaj Tak. Sweta Singh was born on 21st August 1977 in Patna, Bihar. She did her graduation in mass communication from Patna Women’s College, Bihar. She got an opportunity to work as a journalist with the Times of India while in her first year of her college. She later joined Hindustan Times. She worked as a print journalist and covered Bihar and she switched to electronic media in 1998. She worked for Zee News and Sahara before joining Aaj Tak in 2002. In 2005, Sweta’s sports show “Sourav Ka Sixer” won the award for Best Sports Program by the Sports Journalism Federation of India. ENBA Award for Best Producer in 2013. National Television Award for Best Anchor in 2012, ENBA Best Business Show for Shwetpatra Budget in 2014 and ENBA Best Anchor in 2017. She also did a show like History of Patliputra during the Bihar Legislative Assembly election, in 2015. She has appeared in films as a news anchor such as Chak De India and Chakravyuh. She is one of the top news anchors in India and is known for her to-the-point reporting and interview-taking skills.
11. Nidhi Razdan
Nidhi Razdan is one of India’s top anchors and journalists. She was born on 11th April 1977 in New Delhi. She completed her graduation from lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi. She did her Diploma from the India institute of mass communication, Delhi. She started her journey with NDTV in 1999. She was the host of the NDTV programme “Left, Right and Centre” and the weekly debate show “The Big fight“. She covered many social, political, and economic events, such as – The India-US nuclear deal, The 2001 Gujarat and 2005 Kashmir earthquakes. Her fearless, on-point reporting on the shocking Kathua rape case also earned her the International Press Institute Award for excellence in journalism. She was also awarded the Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism and the Teacher’s Achievement Award (TAA) for Communication. She got a great career as a news anchor on NDTV but she left the channel after informing that she had secured a job as a professor at Harvard University. She rejoined the channel more than a year after because that professor’s job was just a scam. Now she is an executive editor of NDTV.
12. Amrita Cheema
Amrita Cheema has made a name for herself in the TV industry in three countries – Germany, Australia and India. Amrita Cheema believed that News is about connecting. She was born in (Deolali) Maharashtra, India. She began her career in India as an editor and anchor of Star News Sunday in Delhi. In 1994 she was part of a team that established India’s first news and current affairs television channel. She is a Rhodes Scholar with a D. Phil in Modern History, University of Oxford. She was one of the first Indian women to win the scholarship. Her Interests were in politics, history, international relations, the human condition, culture, travel and sport. She moved to Germany in 1999 to become the host of the Deutsche Welle television. She worked on DW – TV’s documentary “The truth is in no hurry”. Before joining Radio Deutsche Welle’s English Service in Cologne, she taught nineteenth-century German history at the University of Maryland, Bonn and moved to Australia in 2005 and began working for the public multicultural television network SBS Television on “World News Australia”. She says that international television allows her to reach out to people from different cultures as they are drawn together by events larger than themselves.
13. Afshan Anjum
Afshan Anjum is an award-winning journalist with two decades of experience in Broadcast Journalism. She completes her B. A Hons in Journalism from Delhi University. She started her career with Aaj Tak in 1999 as a sports correspondent and then joined NDTV in 2003 as a sports news editor. She hosted the show “Khel India/ googly” and gained popularity with his show ‘Kissa Cricket Ka’ with former Indian cricketer Navjyot Singh Siddhu and covered some very exciting events, including India’s historic tour of Pakistan in 2004 and the ICC World Cup cricket tournaments in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
14. Neha Dixit
Neha Dixit is a self-sufficient journalist who covers the intersection of politics, gender, and social justice. Dixit began his career as an investigative journalist with Tehelka and then she joined the India Today Special Investigation Team. Dixit has won numerous top journalism awards, including the 2020 one young world journalist of the year, the 2016 Chameli Devi Jain award for Outstanding Woman Media Person in India, the 2014 Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism and the 2011 Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism from the European Commission and many more. Her worked published in various newspapers and magazines such as The Wire, Al Jazeera, Outlook, The New York Times, The Caravan, Himal Southasian, and The Washington Post among others.
Women proven that progress in which every step forward has been a struggle, and strengthening and sustaining gains has been a challenge. But the main question is how much of a voice do women have, both on-screen and off-screen in the media industry? Journalism is a field in India where women have made significant progress in the past few decades. Women reporters have covered wars and reported from the edge of calamitous events.