When I was 10, I used to have a pen and a small pad with me all the time. I would write meaningless words, design my own newspaper with fictional headline and content. I never thought that would turn into my passion.
When I was introduced to the world of blogging, and when I wrote a few posts, I instantly knew this is what I had wanted. I started writing posts, mostly related to technology, before getting hired by a newspaper to contribute on a regular basis.
That was the start.
A year later, I started an English blog. Normally, I would consider myself blessed to be the youngest tech writer in national newspaper in the country if there was no internet. Because there was internet, and I got to know a lot of people from around the world, I felt the need to write in a language that everyone would understand. I felt the need to write in English.
I created a blog (now at http://aisjournal.com ) and started writing English. It was a long, impossible shot. There were no good institutes to learn English at an affordable price. Having born in a middle-class family, nobody in my circle spoke English. Even in English class at school (and then at college), we spoke in Bangla despite teacher’s repeated orders to speak in English. If I practiced speaking English afterwards, people around us — including our very best friends — would think that I was being moody and showing off that I know English.
That very problem still exists in Bangladesh. Unless you’re in an ‘elite class’ society, you rarely get chance to speak English. But I continued writing English. I continued with a dream to write and reach a global audience. And now, I’m facing the ultimate dilemma of choosing between two career paths — none of which is lucrative, so to say.
My first dilemma is whether to write in Bangla or English. Being a native Bengali gives me an advantage of having a good grasp over the language. Also, years of experience in writing about technology enables me to write well so that the core message of the writing can be conveyed to the reader in an easy, understandable way even for the most technologically-challenged reader.
However, writing in Bangla has two major downsides. One, it doesn’t pay well. Two, it feels limiting.
For the pay part, I’d refer to one of my blogs that has gathered enormous popularity over the last year. It’s an Android-focused blog, and it has gathered over 150,000 impressions per month at its peak. Do you know how much I was able to earn? Almost none. Now, had the blog been in English language, imagine how much I would have been able to make just by writing about tech from home.
Many would say I’m compromising/sacrificing writing with money. But when you think of taking writing up as profession, you have choices to make.
I still write for that blog. But journalism is something beyond that point.
If I want to be a tech journalist in Bangla, I’m at a position with many opportunities ahead. I’m writing for the country’s most circulated newspaper — which many says NY Times of Bangladesh. If I continue writing for this paper with all my time, I may have a future as a full time tech journalist in Bangladesh.
But here’s the thing: Nothing happens here. All the biggest stories in the tech world happens in other countries. A new iPhone is here? It’s announced in the United States. A new smart TV is here? It’s also in Las Vegas at CES. New Samsung Galaxy phone? It’s most probably in MWC.
Having been writing about the biggest tech stories so far, I feel limiting to keep ‘translating’ stories off major publishing media such as Mashable and AllThingsD. I want to be the first-hand journalist. And that’s why I want to study journalism.
As of now, I’m preparing for a TOEFL exam after which I’d apply for a journalism undergraduate program at any community college in New York.*
It’s true that one does not really need a degree in journalism. But I feel that journalism is a big responsibility. Most of us probably know what happened to an innocent family after Boston bombing thanks to a Redditor and some eager-to-break-news journalists’ tweets without verifying a story. Disasters like that can take place. Now that everyone is given power to publish, the role of ‘true journalists’ are more important than ever.
Journalism, to my sense, is more than a computer and internet access with the right to publish. Merely publishing a story is not a journalism. There are rules to follow, ethics to keeep in mind. And that’s why I feel the need to study journalism before I can take a deep breath and try for an international/English media. That way, I will not only have some experience but also an educational background to back me up with my resume.
To chase a bigger dream, I’m practically holding my current path to career from a cliff. I’m writing in Bangla, because I don’t know if I’ll ever end up at a college in NY studying journalism, or will I get a job at an int’l publication. But even with the challenge of second-language, I’m ready to pursue my dream of studying journalism and then landing a job at a striving market.
Another reason why I want to go down the path of journalism is because that is all I can do. I tried different things: programming, designing, etc to find out if I have any hidden talent in anything. But I can’t concentrate on anything but writing. And journalism is a far better career than sitting in a room trying to come up with a fictitious plot and then convincing people to buy my book. (I might end up writing fiction someday, who knows!)
Nobody said that writing was a stable, respected position. Nobody said the pay would be handsome. But now, almost seven years after I started writing online, I know what I want. I don’t want to live another’s life, nor do I want to live my life for money; only to grow old and someday regret that my life could have been different had I chosen to do what I dreamed.
I want to live my dream. Who knows what big of a mistake I’m making trying to do that.
*New York because I love that place and my father might move there in the future. If you can recommend some good community college (not four-year because money is an issue here), I’d be glad. I’m currently looking at Borough of Manhattan Community College under CUNY. Suggestions are welcome.
Are you a journalism student? Are you a journalist? Have any advice for me? Am I making a mistake by trying to go int’l instead of sticking to Bangla medium? Let me know your thoughts, pass this story to your journalist friends. Every word is helpful for a guy like me in his teenage trying to figure out the right way to chase his dream.