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. My motivations lie in bringing to life gripping, thought-provoking stories that challenge and expand our perspectives on ourselves and the world and illuminate bold ideas — especially through sometimes unconventional avenues that question assumptions, reveal injustices, and link local and global consequences.
I’m experienced in covering the politics of the Indian and broader South Asian diaspora and in navigating other complex issues. I’ve covered surveillance and the future of policing, a “woman’s” gun, textbooks as battlegrounds for revisionist history, SantaCon’s history and legacy, Hindu nationalism, Beyoncé, sports betting, queer communities, press freedom, the sand mafia, immigration, bodybuilding, bail reform, housing, voting, labor and caste in the United States. 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.
In 2017, I was named a “rising star” and a senior fellow with the Fund for Investigative Journalism and Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. In 2019, I received an honorable mention as an AIR New Voices Scholar. I serve on the board of the Bay Area chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Previously, I studied Urdu in an intensive language program in Lucknow, India, where I covered crime, politics, gender, justice, and the world’s largest election from India’s most populous and pivotal swing state, Uttar Pradesh. As an English teacher in Shizuoka, Japan, I founded, produced and hosted Shizuoka Speaks, a grant-funded podcast about local and international students grappling with identity and searching for community.
My work is discussed in journalism, social work, criminal justice and religious studies courses, and cited in books, surveys and research papers about trends within minority communities, international digital media, politics, economic growth and gendered violence. I’ve received reporting fellowships, recognition and support from the Religion News Foundation, Religion News Association, AIR, 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 Indian and South Asian transnational politics and diaspora communities, 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. My personal podcast is Loitering: The Occasional, But Lovable, Traveling Mini Pod, named after the “Why Loiter” movement fighting for women’s right to safe space (subscribe here!).
I’ve reported, produced and researched radio stories, podcasts and audio projects for: NPR, PRI, KQED, Studio 360, Marketplace, Self Evident, 70 Million, Radiolab, Collective Next, The Washington Post, Vox Media, Pushkin Industries and more.
I’ve also reported and written for: The Atlantic, WIRED, Politico Magazine, Harper’s, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Caravan, Religion News Service, Slate, Foreign Affairs, VICE News, The Juggernaut and more.
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. 🙂