Kohima: Nagaland journalist Manno Wangnao from Tizit in Mon district has won the prestigious Fetisov Journalism Award (FJA-2020) in ‘Contribution to Civil Rights category’.
Wangnao was part of cross-border investigative journalism ‘Migrants from Another World’ where she collaborated with journalists from around 14 countries to investigate the illegal immigration networks thriving across the globe.
The collaboration won the First Prize in the Contribution to Civil Rights category for a series of investigative reports that were published last year. Wangnao is the first journalist from Nagaland to win the Award which was virtually presented recently.
In a candid conversation with EastMojo, the 36-year-old journalist said that winning the award was a “bittersweet” moment. “I have put in a lot of effort and passion. So, I am happy for myself but sad at the same time as I am surrounded by people who do not understand the work I do,” she shared.
“I come from a place where people are not aware about journalism,” she added. According to her, the Naga society is not ready for journalism, and that most people have the mentality that no government job is as good as being unemployed.
Despite having worked for broadcast and print media, she said that her parents are “confused” about the work she does. “But I do it for passion and for the love of it,” she said, hoping that more Nagas will explore journalism.
Talking about the challenges she faces while working in the mainstream media, Wangnao said there are many people who do not associate tribals from the Northeast region as intellectuals.
“Every day I am reminded that they overlook my ability and reminded that I am a woman. So, I had to be persistent and continue the fight,” she said.
Wangnao said there were times when she was not taken seriously because she came from a “particular place” that many did not know.
“This is the reason why I pushed myself even more and it has become my tool,” said Wangnao.
Wangnao said journalism as the fourth pillar of democracy must be taken seriously. She said, “If we are unable to understand the intensity of it, we are lost as a society,” adding that she is desperate to see more journalists and intellectuals from the state.
Encouraging the youth to pursue the profession, she said, “If you are looking for money, it is not the right job. But if you are looking to make a difference in the society and bring forth the truth as it is, this is the right place to start.”
Speaking about her work that won the prestigious award, she said it took about four months to do the research along with senior journalist Ushinor Majumdar. As she associated with Confluence Media, she said, “I was there at the right time and right place. Luckily, I was fortunate to work on the project.”
Wangnao is currently working as a freelance journalist. Based in Tizit, she is also actively helping farmers from Mon district practice organic tea farming. She said 14 farmers were trained in organic tea farming last year in Jorhat and 180 machines were distributed to farmers with the help of the Assam Tea Board.
As most farmers continue to live in poverty despite engaging in tea plantations for many years, she said there is a need for the farmers to give up the traditional method of chemical farming and practice organic tea farming.