Anjali Enjeti writes a great deal about social justice issues. It’s a professional endeavor that began on a quite personal level.
Enjeti, who is of Indian , Puerto Rican and Austrian descent, says that in adolescence “I realized sometimes that my gender and skin color affected how I was treated by others. Voicing my opinion about this–this devaluation and discrimination–empowered me to determine my own worth and value in the world and control my own narrative.”
Maturing and developing a wider focus made her realize that others had suffered far worse injustices, propelling her to tackle those topics in print.
After graduating high school in Chattanooga, she went to Duke University as an undergrad and then moved on to their law school , noting that “a lot of people are told they should go to law school because they’re good writers.” She practiced law for five years, two of them in a Delaware family court and three more at the National Labor Relations Board office in Philadelphia.
“I really enjoyed the work I did,” she explained. “But I was also writing on the side and found myself enjoying writing far more than legal work.” After she had her second child, she committed to the life of a full-time freelance scribe.
Enjeti says she worked her way up from reporting for small, regional parenting magazines to essay writing and book reviews. Along the way, she and her family relocated to Atlanta.
Several years later, she decided to tackle doing more sourced, reported stories, after acquiring interviewing chops from doing author profiles. That’s her mainstay today, as she pitches and tackles multi-sourced, researched pieces for news websites. Her work has ranged from a story on the Refugee Coffee Club in Clarkston to an examination of white flight.
Enjeti says freelancing in the 20-teens can be challenging. She says competition for national reported print assignments is brutally fierce and while she’s knocked repeatedly at that door, it’s never really opened. Overall pay has declined, she says, with some assignments that delivered a several-thousand-dollar check 8 or 9 years ago now paying in the hundreds.
Of necessity, she developed a balancing act along the way.
“When I first started, I was expending too much unpaid labor sending out pitches that got rejected. Meantime, I have built a relationship with a few editors and I know that if I shoot an e-mail to them, I’ll likely get an assignment.” She’s decided that pitching the high-end national magazine carries a built-in high rejection rate and that after a while, the exercise becomes moot because a story’s no longer timely or relevant. She advises those working into the field to develop a bread-and-butter relationship with a core group of editors who consistently accept pitches.
True to her roots, she finds plenty of opportunity to write about people she says are marginalized by society. And to give back to the profession as well, she’s been an active SPJ member since 2015