Manisha works as an investigative journalist for BBC Arabic Digital Documentaries and BBC Newsnight, using mostly open-source techniques. She is pursuing a PhD in the use of automation and AI in investigative journalism, funded by the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster.
Manisha specialises in open-source investigations, whether it be for a fast-paced primetime current affairs show like BBC Newsnight, or slow-burning year-long documentaries. She prides herself in tracking down hard-to-find sources and building relationships with them. Coming from an activist background, her primary areas of interest are international politics and human rights, elevating underreported voices. She brings her academic knowledge of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to investigate cybersecurity, privacy rights and the role of social media giants.
Her most recent documentary, “War Crimes for Likes”, tracked the sharing of suspected war crimes on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and identified members of the Libyan National Army’s special forces committing these crimes. The film led the programme at Newsnight, Arabic TV, Arabic Radio, and was most watched on the BBC English news website. It was widely picked up by other language services, World TV, Focus on Africa, WS Radio, Radio 4, and CBS in America. The UK Foreign Office released a statement following the story, saying they take “the allegations very seriously”.
Formerly a breaking news reporter for CNN International, she was part of the team behind ‘Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe Steps Down’ which won the 2018 Royal Television Society Award for Best Breaking News Coverage. The judges described the reporting as “a journalistic and technical triumph that caught the excitement of the moment but kept a cool head and ensured that tough questions about the future were asked as well”. At CNN, she covered a range of issues, from the US Jerusalem Embassy move and climate change, to interviewing scientists from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab and Goddard Centre. Soon after joining, she was put in charge of programming the CNN regional webpages for Europe, Asia, Africa and Middle East.
At Newsnight, she has delivered exclusives on a number of international stories: from investigations into Jamal Khashoggi’s killer to the Christchurch shooter. She has worked on the show at both levels: on the desk, booking guests and producing packages, as well outside, shooting interviews and conducting field research.
She has worked undercover for joint investigations by the Telegraph and BBC Panorama, as well as for her own investigation into the link between student debt and sugardaddy culture in the UK.
She has filmed in extremely volatile areas such as the Red Corridor in India, and the G20 riots at Hamburg in 2017.
Manisha worked in print and online before venturing into TV. She began her career as junior editorial intern at the Times of India in 2012, covering the Summer Olympics. In 2013, while still in college, she founded India’s first feminist counterculture webzine Eyezine, in the aftermath of the notorious Delhi rape case. The website was run exclusively by survivors of sexual violence, who reported on grassroots struggles despite death and rape threats. The site garnered over 100,000 readers in less than a year.
Manisha is a native speaker of English, Bengali, Hindi and Urdu, and has basic knowledge of French.
Academia & others
Manisha is a Fellow at London’s Newspeak House, where she is Director of the Future of Journalism network. The network brings together journalists and developers working on automation and security tools for reporters, including Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, BellingCat, and BBC R&D. She is a Board member of the Race Beat, a national network of journalists of colour in the UK.
In 2018, she was granted funding by the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster to pursue a PhD. Her focus is automation and AI in investigative journalism. She has been invited to present her work by BBC News Labs and been a consultant for Al-Jazeera Media Labs.
She guest lectures at the University of Westminster, specialising in media economy, history of the internet, and hackerculture.
Manisha has worked as an activist for women’s rights and press freedom in India. In 2015, she was appointed director of Hysteria, one of the first national feminist conventions in India, in association with the Goethe-Institut. The promo video she co-created was listed in 50 Best Films About Women on Films for Action. She has exhibited at the international Feminist Art Conference in Toronto, and been interviewed by Asian Age, Guerrilla Feminism, The Telegraph (India), The Times of India.
Manisha has been a counsellor for survivors of domestic violence, and advised human rights defenders and journalists on information security at events like Mozilla Festival. She has also chaired events at Amnesty International on press freedom with Stephen Dunbar Johnson, President International of the New York Times Company, as well as spoken on panels by Hollaback on countering sexual harassment post #Metoo.