Hello, and thanks for visiting my site.
I’m a journalist and audio producer born and based in Oakland, California, and the daughter of immigrants from India and the Philippines. I’ve written for WIRED, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and POLITICO Magazine, among others, and reported and produced radio stories and documentaries for NPR, PRI, Studio 360, Marketplace, Self Evident, and 70 Million.
My motivations lie in producing gripping, thought-provoking stories that challenge and expand our perspectives on ourselves and the world; illuminate bold ideas; inform policy; hold the powerful accountable; and empower communities. I’m interested in collaborating on dynamic projects focused on achieving these results and more and am actively looking to produce and edit more narrative, sound-rich shows. I have 13 years of experience in audio — let me know if you’re looking to hire!
My stories frequently circulate around power structures, inequality, ideological clashes, and identity, often through unexpected avenues and especially as they reveal injustices, challenge assumptions and link local and global consequences. I’m experienced in covering the politics of the South Asian diaspora and in navigating new and complex beats and territories. Over the years, I’ve covered the future of policing; accent bias in voice recognition technologies; language politics; a woman’s gun; debates on South Asian revisionist history in American textbooks; SantaCon; Hindu nationalism; Beyoncé and the Bible; sectarian violence; sports betting; queer communities; an alleged state-sponsored murder of a “Facebook journalist;” the sand mafia; political polarization; teachers in immigration limbo; bodybuilding; bail reform; and caste. I’ve gone politicking with Uganda’s top female politician, spent a day with a lookalike of India’s prime minister, and immersed myself in the world of America’s longest-running Asian beauty pageant. I’ve also written about my friend Kim Wall.
A little about my history: From 2009 to 2011, I taught English through the JET Program in Shizuoka, Japan, where I also founded, produced and hosted Shizuoka Speaks, a grant-funded podcast on racism, immigration, and education in the country. From 2013 to 2015, I was based in Lucknow, India, where I studied Urdu in an intensive language program and reported on the world’s largest election, politics, and social issues from India’s most populous and politically significant state, the swing state of Uttar Pradesh. I was an African Great Lakes reporting fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation in Uganda in 2016, named a “rising star” and a senior fellow with the Fund for Investigative Journalism and Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism in 2017, and received an honorable mention as an AIR New Voices Scholar in 2019. I serve on the board of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.
My work is discussed in journalism, social work, criminal justice, and religious studies courses, and cited in books and research papers about digital media in an international context, politics, economic growth, gendered violence, and sexualized minorities. I’ve received support and recognition from the Religion News Foundation, Religion News Association, Association of Independents in Radio, Economic Hardship Reporting Project, South Asian Journalists Association, International Women’s Media Foundation, and Anne O’Hare McCormick Memorial Fund, among other organizations, and regularly speak at conferences and in classrooms about writing for the ear, the particularities of covering South Asian politics and the diaspora, and working as a (female) freelance journalist and producer.
I graduated with honors from Columbia Journalism School, where I studied as an Anne O’Hare McCormick Scholar. In my spare time, I produce, edit and host the podcast Loitering: The Occasional, But Lovable, Traveling Minipod, named after the “Why Loiter” movement fighting for women’s right to safe space. Loitering’s current life form is an audio newsletter delivered straight to your email inbox (subscribe here!).
This website showcases most of my work; you can click on the hashtags to see stories by that topic. Please feel free to reach out with ideas, new opportunities, constructive criticism or a hello!
- sonipaul at gmail dot com,
- @sonipaul on most social media,
- Signal: Ask,
- or fill out the form below.
P.S. My website’s current cover photo is from a 2009 cycling trip through Japan’s Shimanami Kaido, a long expressway that connects Japan’s big island of Honshu to its smaller island of Shikoku through several small islands and bridges. This photo of the Kurushima-Kaikyō Bridge — the world’s longest suspension bridge — connects Shikoku with a tiny island called Ōshima. I made the photo with a Kodak disposable film camera. 🙂