Journalist comes home

Since graduating, Aparna Mukherjee '95 has worked almost exclusively as a journalist in Asia. Although she began her career at the Philadelphia bureau of the Associated Press, she was awarded a Luce Scholarship in 1996. The program provides internships for 18 young Americans to live and work in Asia each year. Mukherjee went to Manila, Philippines, and worked a rotating beat at Business World, the leading daily business newspaper. While covering agri-business she attended the National Beef Congress, an annual meeting of cattle-breeders held in the Philippines. "If you can imagine all these American, Australian and Filipino cowboys wandering around while huge sides of beef rotated on spits, that was what it was like," she says. "I was really surprised to learn how much cattle the U.S. was exporting via air-cargo lifts." Another assignment was covering the rise of the first bagel bakery in the Philippines, run by a third-generation Jewish family out of their garage. "By the time I left the Philippines, they had 11 or 12 different flavors of bagels, including pineapple and guava," she says.

From the Philippines, Mukherjee moved to Hong Kong and launched WHERE Hong Kong magazine after working for the city's tourist association. "I don't think there could be a better job in a city like Hong Kong than being asked to eat out, go shopping, visit galleries and generally enjoy the good life!" She produced 12 issues over a period of 18 months, with a distribution of about 30,000. The work was "all-encompassing: generating story ideas, assigning them, editing stories, working with freelancers, copyediting every one of more than 400 listings each month, coming up with cover ideas and organizing the shoots, doing PR for the magazine, establishing relationships with hotel distributors and pretty much whatever else came my way."

Now back in the States, Mukherjee manages public relations for i-frontier, a Philadelphia-based Internet advertising agency founded by Haverford alumnus Brad Aronson '93, who was Mukher-jee's editor at the BiCo News. i-frontier clients include SmithKline Beecham, Coppertone and the Discovery Channel. She's also a columnist on the topic of personal finance for Women's Financial Network. "I take a first-person angle, which is new for me because so much of journalism is meant to be third-person, impersonal reports that seem a bit disembodied."

Of her future, she says: "I'm getting paid to read, assimilate information and write about it. In this sort of economy, I think it's difficult to predict what I, or anyone else, might be doing work-wise in the next decade, but I'm certain that it will require those abilities. My only definite plans are to go back to Asia to visit Korea, Japan and Bhutan, all of which I missed the first time around."

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