Survey Conducted: Tue, 2010-02-09
Creator: South Asian Journalists Association
History: In the Spring of 1994, four South Asian journalists and friends met in a New York City restaurant and founded the South Asian Journalists Association—an organization committed to providing networking opportunities for journalists of South Asian descent and those with an interest in South Asia and its diaspora. Among them was Sreenath Sreenivasan, who at the time of this survey, served as Dean of Student Affairs and Professor of Professional Practice in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and whose office SAJA’s records resided. By 1995, the organization had 200 New York City-based members and was hosting monthly meetings. Members included correspondents, reporters, and editors for South Asia-based publications (e.g. Associated Press of Pakistan, India Today), ethnic media outlets based in the United States (e.g. India Abroad, Minaret), and mainstream news sources (e.g. Time, Wall Street Journal).
SAJA formed an all-volunteer, 22 member board in 1999 to manage the organization’s events, annual dinners, fundraising efforts, journalism award contests, and scholarships. Funded by membership dues, donations, and some foundational support, SAJA currently organizes an annual convention, awards dinner to honor excellent reporting on South Asia and by journalists of South Asian descent, and various panel discussions throughout the year, which have featured speakers such as Fareed Zakaria. In addition, the organization’s website is a hub for news about South Asia and a resource for journalists. As of January 2010, the organization had 647 members. Because of the particular point in history during which SAJA was founded, its records and files were largely born digital. Communication, networking, and record-keeping tools of the digital age including Yahoo! Groups and Google Docs have allowed the organization to operate effectively without incurring the expenses associated with mailing physical newsletters, hiring administrative staff, or renting space. SAJA’s choice to operate virtually is reflected in the organization’s records.
Sources: SAJA Group, Inc. Financial Summary 2008. 2008.
Sreenivasan, Sreenath. Interview with author. New York, NY, February, 9, 2010.
— “FLASHBACK: A 1995 report on SAJA’s first anniversary.”’ E-mail message to author. May 4, 1995.
— “The Draft Board.” SAJA Yahoo! Group post. May 24, 1999.
Summary: While the majority of SAJA’s records are electronic, the organization maintains 15.5 linear feet of physical files. Included are 1.5 linear feet of convention brochures, current issues of Indian and Indian diasporic periodicals including New India Times, and articles by SAJA co-founder and Columbia Dean of Student Affairs, Sreenath Sreenivasan.
The bulk of the collection is composed of 14.0 linear feet of non-fiction and fiction books by South Asian writers and/or about South Asia and its diaspora. The majority of the titles in the SAJA library were published in the 1990s and early 2000s and include Tanuja Desai Hidler’s Born Confused, The Death of Vishnu by Manil Suri, and Nandan Nilekani’s Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation.
SAJA’s website (www.saja.org) serves as an online archive for the organization, featuring resources for journalists, links to news articles relating to South Asia, and information about SAJA’s various programming efforts including its annual convention, journalism awards, and podcast.
The majority of SAJA’s organizational records were born digital. The board maintains a Google Site – “a repository of SAJA’s institutional knowledge”- which contains information on jobs, blogs, membership statistics, events, fellowships, and an archive of major memos. A Yahoo!Group, also maintained for board members, contains a complete archive of every message the board has composed or received since its inception in 1999. There are thousands of messages stored here. SAJA’s tax documents, year end financials, and membership numbers are also online. Lastly, application entries for SAJA’s annual journalism award contests and scholarships, previously kept as physical copies, are now maintained electronically.
Total Size: 15.5 linear feet
APA-related Size: 15.5 linear feet
Languages of materials: English
Location: South Asian Journalist’s Association offices, Columbia University
Conditions Governing Access: Available by appointment only. Researchers wishing to view materials must contact Sreenath Sreenivasan.