Google News Initiative Newsroom Leadership Program | Columbia Journalism School

Google News Initiative Newsroom Leadership Program

In today’s evolving media landscape, every journalist must also think like a publisher, especially emerging newsroom leaders and managers. This program, created in partnership with the Google News Initiative, will teach newsroom leaders living and working in India how to lead through change, identify and build on opportunities for entrepreneurship, and further diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups within their newsrooms.

This program is now closed to applications.


This virtual program aims to enhance the leadership skills and nimble decision-making capacity of newsroom leaders working and living in India, with particular focus on applied technology, audience-centric behaviors, design thinking, data applications, emerging business models and editorial innovation. Fellows will gain skills and knowledge to make better strategic decisions for their newsrooms and audiences. Each Fellow will also work on a specific project during the year that is relevant to their newsroom within the main fellowship topics: technology, monetization and data. Each fellow's work should further diversity within newsroom leadership in India, including though not limited to age, caste, gender, gender identities, religion, abilities, geographic location, and sexual orientation.

 The program emphasizes:

  •  Building a practical understanding of how news companies around the world —large and small, legacy and start-up—actually operate as businesses, and how technology has revolutionized what it means to be a publisher.
  • Developing a framework for evaluating the costs and benefits of introducing technology-driven changes into the workflows and resourcing of units, and how to present a plan for change to managers and direct reports.
  • Leveraging data and the latest technology to create compelling content and understand audiences, while thinking about publishing products when putting together the complete reporting package.  

 Specific topics may include:

  • Understanding both traditional and new revenue models
  • Handling disruption and transition
  • The role of data in the newsroom and the Board Room
  • Recruitment, retention, and newsroom culture 
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion when building teams
  • Design-Thinking and Building News Products


The GNI Newsroom Leadership Program is a six-month  program, conducted fully online. This includes two weeks of virtual residencies as well as regular individual coaching, small group projects, lectures, discussion groups, and opportunities to meet with industry leaders. 

  • Application opens: November 18, 2021
  • Application deadline: February 15, 2022 
  • Successful applicants are notified: March 8, 2022
  • Week 1 - April 4-8 , 2022: Virtual residency (full time commitment) in which Fellows will learn about design thinking, newsroom innovation, leadership techniques, and managing staff through transition and disruption. 
  • Weeks 2 to 20 - April 11 through August 19, 2022: Fellows will meet once per week, as a cohort, to learn from select Columbia University faculty, industry leaders, consultants, and innovators on topics related to data, monetization and business models, audience engagement, and other topics as needed. Fellows will also meet additionally with their coach to make concrete progress on their project. 
  • Week 21 - August 22-26, 2022:  Virtual residency week, where the Fellows will learn from industry experts and select Columbia University faculty as well as present their projects to the full group.


Drawing on curricula developed by senior faculty and delivered by our professional education programs at Columbia Journalism School, the program will provide a management-level grounding on how to apply learnings to broader real-life newsroom scenarios and challenges, as well as to the Fellows’ specific projects.  

The virtual classroom portion of the Columbia curriculum will guide all the Fellows on better understanding current and emerging media landscape, specifically around technology, data, business models, monetization, innovation, multimedia audience engagement and disruption. The focus will be on applying the learnings to both the India news market as well as to help the Fellows think through their specific projects.

An integral part of the curriculum will be seminars by curated industry speakers and conversations with news organizations

Who Should Apply

Successful applicants are mid-career newsroom leaders working full-time in editorial positions at news organizations in India. These leaders are furthering diversity, equity and inclusion within their news organizations, and they have been endorsed by their employers. The program is academically rigorous, requiring day-long lectures and speakers, reading and written assignments conducted in English, with no translation.

There is no application fee. The program is free of charge for successful applicants.

Application and Requirements

The application requires:

  • A complete CV;
  • One personal goals essay;
  • One letter of recommendation from a current colleague or manager who can speak to the applicant’s current role, professional achievements and capabilities;
  • A letter of endorsement from the applicant’s employer, attesting to allowing paid leave for the applicant to participate in the virtual residency and other components of the program and endorsement of the individual project area/ issue that the applicant will work on for the duration of the fellowship;
  • Articulation of the individual project area/issue that they want to focus on during the program term.

 All application materials must be submitted by 11:59pm ET, February 15, 2022.

 The application process and the selection of Fellows will be managed by Columbia Journalism School.

The application is now closed.



For questions about the application process, the curriculum, or the program, please contact Director of Professional Programs Kate Kennedy at [email protected].

2022 Fellows

Columbia Journalism School is delighted to announce our 2022 Newsroom Leadership program fellows. 

Satarupa Bhattacharya Managing Editor Citizen Matters
Himani Chandna News Editor
Yudhajit Shankar Das Senior Assistant Editor Times of India
Akshita Gupta Founder & CEO The Channel 46
Vertika Kanaujia Editor/Audience Growth Lead Hindustan Times
Sannuta Raghu Executive Producer & Head of Video
NS Ramnath Senior Writer Founding Fuel
Pratyush Ranjan Executive Editor Jagran New Media
Karthigaichelvan Sabanayagam Editor in Chief Puthiya Thalaimurai
Vidushi Sagar SubEditor
Durga Sengupta Editor, Southeast Asia The Ken
Shuchi Shukla Senior Director, Head of Content AsiaNet Network
Aditi Tandon Production Editor Mongabay India
Chitranshu Tewari Director, Product & Revenue NewsLaundry
Surendar Thirumurthy Managing Editor

Satarupa Bhattacharya

Managing Editor, Citizen Matters

Satarupa Bhattacharya is Managing Editor at Citizen Matters, an independent online publication that brings journalism, data, and citizen voices together for the cause of more livable, sustainable, and equitable Indian cities. She holds a Masters degree in Economics and has close to 18 years of editorial and content experience across a variety of genres and formats. Apart from overall editorial oversight and involvement in key editorial policy-making at Citizen Matters, she ideates, edits, and writes stories with a focus on social and developmental issues.

Project: Create a blueprint to leverage technology and build effective partnerships between professional journalists and citizen journalists in underrepresented communities.


Himani Chandna

News Editor,

Himani Chandna is a News Editor at CNN News18’s digital wing, She writes on healthcare and pharmaceuticals with a sharp focus on policy, research, development, and corporate news. She has previously worked with The Print, Hindustan Times, and The Indian Express in her over decade-long career. She is a graduate in Economics with a post-graduation from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi.

Project: Develop and launch Health18, a multimedia platform for health journalism.


Yudhajit Shankar Das

Senior Assistant Editor, Times of India

Yudhajit Shankar Das is a Senior Assistant Editor at the Times of India. He takes special pride in his news sense, ability to give unique headlines, and rewrite everything that is not suitable to print. He is passionate about storytelling, particularly for people from the northeastern part of India. In this digital world, he wants to tell stories in multiple formats, reach a larger audience, and make the process commercially rewarding.

Project: Develop a podcast strategy.


Akshita Gupta

Founder & CEO, The Channel 46

Akshita Gupta is Founder and CEO of The Channel 46, a digital content community platform focusing on giving Indian women a pathway to become better versions of themselves, through content that is actionable and relevant to their day-to-day lives, as well as a way to meet and discuss the world with like-minded women.

Project: Expand The Channel 46’s coverage and audience.


Vertika Kanaujia

Editor/ Audience Growth Lead, Hindustan Times

Vertika Kanaujia is Editor and Audience Growth Lead at the Hindustan Times. She is a Chevening Scholar and holds an MBA in Media Management from Cardiff University. After 16 years in Indian broadcast, working at NDTV, India Today, CNN-News18, Zee, and NewsX, she switched to a digital media focus, motivated by the tectonic shifts in the industry.
Project: Grow the paid subscriber base for the Hindustan Times core news product.


Sannuta Raghu

Executive Producer & Head of Video,

Sannuta Raghu is Executive Producer and Head of Video at She built and leads its award winning video newsroom, where she has designed news and news+ products for platforms with 6 to 200 million users. She also presents and executive produces a weekly show on the climate crisis and sustainable solutions in partnership with Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster. Prior to, Sannuta worked as senior producer at CNN-IBN and CNBC-TV18, flagship news channels of one of the biggest TV news networks in India, Network18.

Project: Understand and analyze the core product value of solutions-based environment reporting on video and map that to user needs.


NS Ramnath

Senior Writer, Founding Fuel

NS Ramnath is a senior writer at Founding Fuel and co-author of The Aadhaar Effect, published by Oxford University Press (2018). He writes about the intersection of technology, business, and society for Founding Fuel. Prior to Founding Fuel, Ramnath was with Forbes India and The Economic Times. He was a Tow-Knight Entrepreneurial Journalism Fellow at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in 2014 and a Bharat Inclusion Research Fellow at CIIE.CO in 2020. He has degrees in economics and financial management from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning.

Project: Redesign and relaunch a newsletter product focused on technology and society in India.


Pratyush Ranjan

Executive Editor, Jagran New Media

Pratyush Ranjan is the Executive Editor of Jagran New Media. He has more than 19 year of experience in the digital news industry. Pratyush was part of the “JournalismAI” project, studying the role of AI on the future of journalism by POLIS, the journalism think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Pratyush recently won the Silver Award for Best Covid-19 project at the South Asian Digital Media Awards for his talk show, Jagran Dialogues. Pratyush has a data journalism certificate from the East-West Center and a certificate on countering state-based Covid-19 disinformation by CRDF-Global.
Project: Leverage AI and data to strengthen structured journalism in the newsroom.


Karthigaichelvan Sabanayagam

Editor in Chief, Puthiya Thalaim

Karthigaichelvan Sabanayagam is Editor in Chief, Puthiya Thalaimurai television, a round-the-clock Tamil language news and current affairs channel. He concurrently heads its digital wing, which has over eight million YouTube subscribers, five million Facebook followers, 1.5 million Twitter followers, and 1.4 million on Instagram. As EIC, he is responsible for all content across television and digital media, and he manages a team of 400 journalists and technical staff. He is a recipient of several awards, including Best Anchor Award (2017) by a Tamil media house.

Project: Develop strategies for news dissemination in an era of citizen journalism.


Vidushi Sagar


Vidushi Sagar currently works for the editorial and digital content production teams at She graduated from the Asian College of Journalism under the South Asian Foundation scholarship. Keen on photography and visual storytelling, she was part of National Geographic’s Slow Journalism workshop, where she wrote about the urban migration of the Irula tribe while capturing their daily life through the lens.

Project: Create a one-stop platform for climate change coverage at


Durga M. Sengupta

Editor-Desk, Southeast Asia, The Ken

Durga Sengupta is Editor-Desk, Southeast Asia at The Ken. Beyond editing copy, she discusses stories, drafts, and narrative structures with reporters across five countries in southeast Asia. A journalist for close to a decade, she’s previously worked at the Hindustan Times and Catch News, where she wrote on the intersections of gender, culture, law, and socio-economic issues.

Project: Collect and assess qualitative data to form a staff retention strategy in a post-pandemic remote digital newsroom.


Shuchi Shukla

Senior Director, Head of Content, AsiaNet Network

Shuchi Shukla is Senior Director and Head of Content at AsiaNet Network. Her expertise lies in digitizing newsrooms, building content consumption products that meet the expectations of the audience, and helping publishers monetize their products.
Project: Apply design thinking to develop a new product for her audience that can be managed across a remote workforce.


Aditi Tandon

Production Editor, Mongabay India

Aditi Tandon is a Production Editor at Mongabay India, an environment and conservation news portal. She is also a fact-checking trainer with the Google News Initiative India Training Network. Through her work at Mongabay India, Aditi is involved in the production of news stories that throw light on environment and climate developments in India. As part of her responsibilities as a Production Editor, Aditi strives to ensure that the news published by Mongabay India is objective, accurate, accessible, and advances diversity. Aditi started her career as a journalist with the Times of India. She has also worked in communication at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and U.S. Consulate in Mumbai.

Project: Leverage technology and data to “pre-bunk” climate misinformation and mainstream accurate climate change news.


Chitranshu Tewari

Director, Product & Revenue, NewsLaundry

Chitranshu Tewari is Director, Product and Revenue at NewsLaundry, an ad-free, independent news organization based out of New Delhi, India. He believes that the subscription-driven model, rooted in reader accountability, is key to a robust and sustainable new ecosystem in a democracy. Among a handful of media leaders who have shaped the subscription news model in India from the ground up, his primary objective is to understand patterns of news consumption and what makes a reader pay for news.

Project: Drive subscriber growth via improved staff recruitment and retention.


Surendar Thirumurthy

Managing Editor,

Surendar Thirumurthy is Managing Editor of (TMC), one of India’s earliest subscription-only digital news portals. He leads a newsroom of writers who believe in longform storytelling and publishes one important story every morning. In thirty months, TMC has nearly 50,000 subscribers and is growing fast. Previously, he worked at the Times of India, India Today, and was part of the founding teams of Forbes India and Fortune India. At Fortune, he was the architect of the first ranked list of India’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business.

Project: Developing a database product for business readers.