Young Pakistani Journalists at the Future News Conference

  1. What inspired you to become part of the next generation of journalists?

Zainab: It started out as a patriotic decision - I wanted to uncover to the world and the sheltered population of my own country what Pakistan actually is why and all the beautiful people who live here.  Slowly though, it became an urge to - as what Paul Ingrasia said at the conference -  tell “extraordinary stories of ordinary people”.

Saad: For me, journalism is one of the few professions that can actually make a difference in the world. One of the recurring themes in the Future News Conference was ‘public interest’. Journalists can highlight and present issues of great importance in an unbiased and unprejudiced way and allow the public to form their own opinions. What really draws me towards journalism is the fact that we can be the difference between an ignorant public and an enlightened society.

Sanjay: I got my first inspiration from in my opinion one of the most renowned TV anchors and journalist in Pakistan - I got inspiration by his very first show at DUNYA NEWS in 2009 Programme "Khari Baat Luqman ke Sath".

2. What degree are you pursuing towards making this dream a reality? 

Zainab: I freelance for the Express Tribune’s T magazine; I used to work on articles for a section they print called the Positive Pakistani. Now I have started working on bigger issues and features. My latest one was on how the transgender community in Pakistan makes ends meet, and I don’t intend to stop there.

Saad: I am currently in the final year of secondary school and am still looking at my university options.

Sanjay: Currently I'm not a journalist, neither I'm studying related to it. Soon I will start my career after finishing my Bachelors. It is my dream to become a journalist, to show and tell the world what is happening. I want to be proactive and do as much as I can for the community.

3.  What have you brought back from Future News Conference and your thoughts before and after?

Zainab: It’s difficult to put into words or to list everything I brought back (because there was so much!), but if you were to ask me what’s the most important thing I brought back, I’d say I brought back the skills, knowledge and wisdom on how to connect with a vast audience just via a video or a photograph or words. I feel as though that is the most vital part of being a journalist, to be able to convey those feelings and emotions on a screen or on paper. 

Saad: I must confess that before the Future News Conference, journalism for me was more of a hobby than a career option. This conference has opened my eyes to a world hitherto unknown to me and has motivated me to pursue journalism as a profession. The knowledge and experience I gained from the conference is priceless to say the least, and will surely be of great help in the future.

Sanjay: Going into the conference I felt defensive about what other people knew about Pakistan and how they perceived it? After the conference, my thoughts were the complete opposite of what they were going in. The people I met at the conference were so nice, kind, very humble and friendly The experience of those three days surpassed all my expectations.

4. What was it like meeting participants from different countries? What things did you find in common and what new things did you learn?

Zainab: It was a great experience because after connecting with others in the conference we would go and explore Edinburgh together. To be able to do that with a large group of people - all from various countries and cultures - is a very immersive experience. I learned all their stories on how they discovered journalism, how they pursued it, the different vlogs or blogs they run. Not only did I learn from their personal experiences I saw how every country has a different take on journalism, for example, some are very heavy on censorship and the consequences you deal with if you breach it.

Saad: Meeting participants from all over the world was the thing I was looking forward to the most and it was certainly one of the best aspects of the conference. Though separated by borders, it was obvious that we had more in common than we could have imagined.  This experience cleared out many notions I had about the world and made me more aware of international matters, in general, and the many dynamics of journalism in particular. The friendships formed during those three days will certainly go a long way.  

Sanjay: Meeting participants from different countries was more than visiting their world. Not only did I get a chance to learn about well-known and successful editors and journalists, such as Paul Ingrassia, Alice Enders, Donald Martin, Geoff Webster, James Waterson, Sue Turton etc. After meeting so many people from different countries and cultures, I felt like I had lived in a bubble. I learnt a lot in those three days, but the most important lesson I learnt is that there is still a lot to learn.

5. Did your approach toward journalism change/alter in any way after participating in the conference?

Zainab: I’ll be going bigger, better and bolder. Someone out there has a story to tell, the least I can do is provide them a path to tell that story, irrespective of how controversial it may be or how hard it may be to find that story - I am ready to do it. Seeing Sue Turton and her amazing work at the conference has not only inspired me, it has made me respect the need to tell the real story, irrespective of the dangers I might face to tell it.

Saad: Journalism, as I have learnt, demands a very practical approach. It requires us to be adventurous and curious. Covering all aspects and angles of a story and making sure to get both sides of an issue are necessary. I will certainly try to adopt all that I have learnt at the conference in my future career and I have no doubt that it will be of great help.

Sanjay: I want to write stories and share it via the internet, to bring to light the voices of those who otherwise would not be heard. I want to write stories of truth that resonate with people from every corner of the planet. I want to educate people and incite them to action. I want to travel the world and meet amazing people and then write about these amazing experiences, much as I am writing about the Future News Conference now.