World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Ashna Kumar

Four years into the job, court reporting has somewhat become ingrained for this Nausori lass
16 Sep 2020 16:05
World News Day: Fiji Sun Presents Ashna Kumar

Ashna Kumar is naturally inquisitive.

She is a familiar face at the Suva court house.

She is greeted by court clerks, lawyers, Police officers and the ladies who sell pies and roti.

Even some of those behind bars call her out by name, “Ashna yadra!”

Beyond the niceties, Ms Kumar knows her work is cut out for her –not to miss any big or interesting cases.

Four years into the job, court reporting has somewhat become ingrained for this Nausori lass.

Ms Kumar is California (USA) high school graduate and is currently completing a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Human Resources Management at the University of the South Pacific.

When you started working in a newsroom?

I started working at the Fiji Sun from March 2016.When I joined the Fiji Sun news-room, I did not have any knowledge or educational background or experience about the job. But I learned fast and I’m grateful to the team for their assistance – even today.I had applied hoping for a part-time job to get me going while I studied at the University of the South Pacific. I was given the opportunity to join the newsroom. I took it!Why you do what you do?I do what I do because I love it and I learn something new every day.This industry gives us the ability to talk to people from all walks of life and background, connect with them and write about their experience.It’s also made me to realise that life isn’t always the same for everyone. It reminds me to be grateful for all that I have and just be happy.Being a journalist has also taught me to be fair.I thrive on challenges. And being a court reporter I face criminals and their families getting in my way to stop me from taking photos and videos. I do this because people relate to the stories, because it makes a difference in their lives and ours too.

Being a journalist is a lot of work, but it also gives me an identity. And I wear that journalistic identity with confidence because of the work we do.

Why do you put up with deadline pressures at work and from outside?

Deadlines and pressure are part and parcel of any workplace. I aim to have my articles written well before the deadline so as to allow the sub-editors to do their job. They are a tireless bunch and they put the pages together before it goes to the production team.

Basically, meeting deadlines means getting out to our readers on time.

Our readers are our motivation.

In your journalism career, what are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how were these addressed?

Some of the challenges is widely known in the field of journalism and that is the language barrier.

For a person to connect better and relate, one must understand the language the other speaks.

I report from anything and everything happening in court. Sometimes it isn’t easy to do.

There are times when a lot of good cases are happening at the same time in different court rooms.

This can be a real challenge but I manage to run or speed-walk from one courtroom to the other making sure I do not miss out on the big cases and photos.

Having a good working relationship with court clerks is also helpful.

Please highlight at least 2 pieces of work that you did that brought about change in policy, community/ or in behaviour?

One of the stories titled New Claims of Driving Licence Scam was published on August 8, 2016. It was about Fijians who fell victims of (then) LTA officers who scammed people to obtain money in the promise of providing a drivers licence.

I remember I had to call people those who were scammed, gain their confidence to tell me how they were robbed. I had to reach out to the scammers as well – who were employed at the Land Transport Authority at the time. The scammers also included driving school instructors.

The next day, many reached out to tell us their experiences and how they were scammed. Many paid hundreds of dollars for their licence.

As a result, the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption charged and prosecuted those involved.

Another story which is close to my heart is about the two newborn babies who were abandoned by their mothers at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital.

I requested the then Assistant Minister for Health to accompany our photographer and I to the hospital to see the babies. She agreed.

When we arrived at the children’s ward, the babies were in their basinet crying.

We later learnt from the nurses that one of the baby was abandoned because the couple preferred a boy. The other, because the mother could not afford to raise her.

We published the babies’ pictures with the Assistant Minister for Health on the front page on August 24, 2016. The next day, we received a request from a family willing to adopt the two baby girls.

The family followed the adoption process and were able to adopt both newborns.

Screenshot 2020-09-03 at 11.46.40 AM

Feedback: rosi.doviverata@fijisun.com.fj

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