“The Polite Journalist” – an interview with Afshan Ahmed by The Gyaan Guru

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Afshan Ahmed

“All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone’s feelings.” Denis Diderot

I have always aimed to share stories of people who by their sheer determination and hard work, have not only, achieved success in their career but are also grounded and humble in their approach to life; whose stories are worth sharing and inspiring.

Afshan Ahmed, is one of those inspiring people I came across early in my career, it was about 5 years ago, I was working on an event and with no budgets to spend, I had no money to advertise – the event was for a good cause and non profit, so I approached Journalists to take it up as a story – and after dealing with many Media specialists, most of whom were more interested in the nationalities of my participants or my list of sponsors or what gifts I can offer in return of the coverage; rather than the event itself, it was going really downhill for me, and well I almost had given up, but I had one last call to make and it was Afshan’s number.

I called Afshan Ahmed, knowing that this will be another NO thanks – your event is not worth my time. But, I was wrong on this one, she took me by surprise, I still recall how “Polite” she was and most importantly; she was interested in knowing about the event details, she took time to learn and understand. Her approach was investigative and she was concerned with the matter and not the fluff around the event, not once did she say, what’s in it for me Zareen and for that, she not only got my respect but an admiration that only grew over the years.

“Journalists are the Voice of our Nation, to write about them is an honor that makes my story telling worthwhile!”

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What attracted you to the Path of Journalism – I always find this question hard to answer. I’m not sure what drove me to sign up for journalism at university, but there were indicators on the type of career I’d be suited for based on my personality.

Meeting new people, telling their stories and being inquisitive is part of it. Channeling all that into writing, honing my ‘nose for news’ was a natural progression. Along the way, you read the works of a lot of journalists and try to carve out your own style.

The Learning Process – I have six years of experience in news and features writing in the UAE, and it has been nothing short of awesome. Journalism has improved in leaps and bounds and I’m glad to be a part of that change. Of course, there is a lot more that can be done to push the boundaries, but the learning experience is invaluable.

Your take on Discrimination – Gender and racial bias aren’t exclusive to the field of journalism or the country, for that matter. Even if it does exist, it is covert. Having said that, it has never affected my ambitions and there is always a way around them.

The importance of Mentors in your career – This profession requires that you follow the best out there and try to push your limits. For me, mentors have come in the form of my professors and then colleagues. You surround yourself with professionals in the field, each giving you a different perspective that guides your thought process.

Your Biggest Support – Without a doubt, my parents. I grew up at a time when parents were forcing their children to pursue a career in medicine, engineering or business. That wasn’t for me, and my parents understood that. Taking up journalism could have been a misstep, but they understood that too! And they have always been there, no questions asked.

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Your 5 Top Tips to Young Journalists

  1. Keep abreast of current events; along with writing skill
  2. Learn multimedia skills – that’s where journalism is heading
  3. Get social media active
  4. Follow the work of established journalists
  5. Don’t be  afraid to ask questions (that’s the job!)

 

How to get in touch with Afshan Ahmed –

Email: afshan.ahm@gmail.com/ aahmed@thenational.ae

Twitter -@afsh_ahmed

My author page – www.afshaninbyline.com

I am an Avid reader of Afshan’s work, she writes for one of UAE’s most reputable Newspaper – “The National.”

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