PETALING JAYA: Three journalists from The Star have been awarded the prestigious Chevening Scholarship, while executive editor Brian Martin has been selected to take part in the East-West Center Senior Journalists Seminar (SJS).
The journalists – Nicholas Cheng, Dina Murad and Akil Yunus – will be pursuing their Master’s degree in conflict studies at different universities in Britain.
The Chevening Scholarship is Britain’s global scholarship programme funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partner organisations.
It is unprecedented for a media organisation to be awarded three scholarships under the programme in a calendar year.
Cheng, 26, who was also selected for the 2017 Daniel Pearl Fellowship in the United States, will take up conflict studies at the London School of Economics.
“It is interesting that all three of us separately chose courses in conflict and extremism.
“It spotlights the growing level of security concerns in the country and the need for journalists to be trained to deliver the kind of balanced and in-depth reports Malaysians need,” he said.
Dina, 28, said she “couldn’t believe” she got the scholarship.
“It took a few minutes for everything to sink in. Both Nicholas and Akil are my good friends and talented journalists,” she said.
Dina will be studying Terrorism, Security and Society at King’s College London.
Akil, 28, will be pursuing International Relations (Terrorism and Political Violence) at the University of Birmingham.
“The course is the first step towards developing a niche in security-related reporting, and I’m hoping it will equip me with the right academic foundation to write on this issue with a greater sense of understanding and authority,” he said.
Martin, 50, said he applied for the seminar in May and forgot about it.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I received the confirmation in July that I had been chosen,” he said.
The SJS is an immersive dialogue, study and travel programme intended to enhance media coverage and elevate public debate regarding identity and religion’s role in the public sphere.
Martin is among 12 senior journalists selected for this year’s seminar, which runs from Sept 6 to 29.
Participants will visit Washington DC and Minneapolis in the United States, Manila and Cotabato City in the Philippines, as well as Rabat in Morocco.
During the seminar, Martin will be studying the religious composition and treatment of minority religions in the United States and Muslim-majority regions.
He will also be preparing a presentation on Malaysia’s multicultural make-up.
“I will not only get to understand the political and religious impact in the public sphere in various countries, but I will also be writing news articles and using my experiences in the United States, Philippines and Morocco for my column,” he added.
Martin’s On Your Side column runs fortnightly in The Star.