Dr. Indira Somani

Grant Category: Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher
Field of Specialization: Journalism
Name: Dr. Indira Somani  
Official Address: Department. of Journalism and
Mass Communications, Washington and
Lee University Lexington, Virginia
Indian Host Institution: Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media
Bangalore, Karnataka
Duration of Grant & Start Date : Duration: 4 months
September 2011

Brief Bio:
Dr. Indira Somani is an Assistant Professor of journalism and mass communications with Washington and Lee University. She teaches online and broadcast producing and broadcast reporting and has introduced two new courses called "media, race and gender" and "cross-cultural documentary filmmaking." Dr. Somani studies effects of satellite television on the Indian diaspora, specifically the generation of the Asian Indians who migrated to the U.S. between 1960 and 1972, and their media habits. Her work has been published in the "Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, and the Asian Journal of Communication" (in press). She is an award winning independent producer and director of documentaries about how Asian Indians maintain and preserve their cultural identity.  Her most recent production is "Crossing Lines" (www.crossinglinesthefilm.com), a personal essay documentary about her struggle to stay connected to India after the loss of her father. The film has won numerous awards, screened in film festivals nationally and internationally, screened on PBS affiliates, and has also been distributed to more than 50 university libraries in the U.S. through New Day films. Prior to teaching at the Washington and Lee University, she taught at the American University and the University of Maryland. Prior to transitioning to academia, she was a television producer most notably with CNBC and WJLA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C. She has been a leader of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA), where she has also won several "Outstanding" awards on her coverage of South Asians in North America. She earned her Master's in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University and her Ph.D. from the Phillip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland.
As a Fulbright-Nehru scholar Dr. Indira Somani will conduct an ethnographic research on the western influence in Indian programming. She will investigate how Indian television programming is developed and produced. With this award, she will be able to finish the work that began in 2007 when she started documenting the kinds of media the Indian diaspora, specifically the generation that migrated to the U.S. between 1960 and 1972, have used for the past 40 years. As satellite television consumers, this generation describes Indian programming as "too Western."