The broadcast journalist recently won the prestigious America Mid-America Regional Emmy Award for her investigation on prescription medications errors.
Prabjot (PJ) Kaur Randhawa, NBC’s investigative reporter in Missouri recently won the prestigious America Mid-America Regional Emmy Award in the ‘Health and Science’ category for her investigation on prescription medications errors. Randhawa is the first Sikh-Canadian broadcast journalist to be honoured with this Award. “The Mid-American Emmy Awards represent excellence in the broadcast and television industry. Thousands of people submit their work every year. I’d been nominated three times in 2017 but did not win. This year, I only received one nomination and by the grace of God, I won,” shares the elated award winner.
Randhawa’s investigation into pharmacy medication errors revealed how many large chain pharmacies are putting profit over safety by requiring pharmacists to fill more prescriptions per hour. “The end result is that a surprising number of people go home with the wrong medication – which can be fatal,” the young reporter points out, “I was able to question the head of the Missouri Pharmacy Board and discover they aren’t taking any action to monitor these corporate pressures, or ensure the safety of the public.”
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Randhawa received her bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and Film from Northeastern Illinois University. She graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from DePaul University, Chicago. She has worked with various media organizations including KOTA TV, PBS, WGN, The Chicago Tribune, FOX News, among others. Since 2015, she has been an investigative reporter at KSDK NBC in St. Louis, Missouri.
A career as a journalist was never Randhawa’s first choice. Growing up shy, she studied film and wanted to stay behind the camera as a TV or film producer. She discovered her passion for reporting while pursing a graduate degree in Journalism. “Reporting is really just storytelling. Eventually I discovered such a passion for the stories and topics I was covering, I couldn’t think of anyone better to present them. I felt armed with skill, purpose and knowledge, and I finally thought “Why not me?”” recalls Randhawa.
She was drawn to investigative journalism because of the good it can do. “Every day I come into contact with people who have been disenfranchised, broken, silenced or ignored. As an investigative reporter, I make it my mission to give people a voice. It’s a unique position because it allows you to hold the powerful accountable, expose wrongdoing, and most importantly – be an advocate for your community,” she states.
Besides the America Mid-America Regional Emmy Award, Randhawa has received the Excellence in Journalism award from DePaul University; the 2013 World Sikh Award for her political reporting; and the 2014 School Bell Award for her educational reporting. Winning the World Sikh Award in South Carolina was a huge milestone for the passionate journalist. “I had just come out of an anchoring job in South Dakota where I made very little money. I had many doubts about whether I’d made the right decision for my career. That’s when I started receiving amazing support from Sikh and Indian communities around the globe. It eventually led me to London where I won the Sikh Award.”
With the changing media industry, Randhawa thinks the industry has to work harder than ever to gain the public’s trust. “This means we have to be more transparent in our reporting. Gone are the days when people blindly trusted what their television news anchor was reading to them. In investigative reporting, that means showing our research and findings in a compelling, transparent way and reporting accurate, clear information,” she concludes.
What is your message for youth and those who wish to follow your path?
Work on being a good listener. Be polite. Treat the people you meet in your daily life with respect and dignity; it’s a good thing to be known for. Also, you don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to be heard.
Indians around the world have made significant contributions to their immigrated countries, what do you think of this accomplishment?
I think it’s wonderful. I’m proud to be the daughter of Indian immigrants. I wish there was more recognition for the struggle and strength of character it takes to be successful as an immigrant.