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Vauhini Vara chosen to be first Pearl journalism intern

Shakti Bhatt in New York | February 22, 2003 04:01 IST

Vauhini Vara, a 20-year-old freshman at Stanford University, has been chosen to be the first Daniel Pearl Memorial journalism intern.

The internship was instituted by the university to commemorate the works and ideals of the Wall Street Journal reporter who was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan last year. Pearl graduated from Stanford in 1985.

Vara, who is majoring in international relations with a minor in economics and communication, was one of 21 students who applied for the scholarship.

A junior from Mercer Island, Washington, she will work in a foreign bureau of the Journal this summer. The Journal will pay her a salary of $700 a week. Vara will also receive $5,000 from the Daniel Pearl Memorial Fund, which has managed to raise $100,000 so far.

The application process involved writing an essay about how the student's career goals exemplify the values of Daniel Pearl. For her essay Vara wrote: "Journalism is about people. It's about allowing real human beings to tell the journalist what the story is, instead of the other way round."

"It was a very difficult choice to make," said Professor Jim Bettinger, who chaired the Pearl Memorial Fund committee. "Though we thought Vauhini was the best. She is a very good writer, very energetic and ambitious."

The final decision was made by the Wall Street Journal. "We hope this internship will inspire young reporters to seek out the kinds of stories that made Danny Pearl's work so distinctive," said Paul Steiger, managing editor.

The three deciding criteria were a commitment to explaining different cultures to each other, an emphasis on the stories of ordinary people rather than those in positions of power, and a focus on the dignity of individuals.

Bettinger, who is currently teaching literary journalism, a class Vara is taking, said he admires her work. "She has the potential to be an excellent journalist and I am very pleased with her selection."

"We wanted to create an internship that finds the next wave of Daniel Pearls and gives them a chance to work overseas early in their career," Bettinger added.

Vara is a news editor at the university's newspaper Stanford Daily. She has previously interned as a business reporter for The Denver Post and also won scholarships from the Asian American Journalist Association as well as the Northwest Journalists of Colour.

Vauhini Vara, who was unavailable for comment, also wrote in her essay that she plans to spend her life "learning to write stories like the ones Pearl wrote". "When I read Daniel Pearl's work, I am most impressed by his respect for the people he writes about -- his trust that their story is the story. When I think about how his life ended, I am most struck by his passion for the work of journalism."

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: Vara chosen Pearl journalism intern

ok.. i dont think they shoulda made such a hype .. isn't there anything in the country to write about other than flashes in the ...

Posted by anu

Sub: absolutely why the fuss

I am too wonderng why the fuss... does she have an indian connection by any chance... Well good for her.. and best of luck

Posted by kavita

Sub: Congrats!!

Dear Vara, Conguratulations on getting the scholarship. But why is the Indian media creating such hungama as though you studied in India. How else could ...

Posted by Alka


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