Hello everyone! I am Arifa Alam, working as a copy-editor in Bangladesh’s leading national daily newspaper called Prothom Alo. I was selected to attend the Future NEWS conference 2015 in Scotland. And I was delighted to have this opportunity. This was a unique experience where I got the scope to represent my country and my institution on a global platform in front of renowned journalists from all around the world. It was a busy day at the office when suddenly my colleague, Ahsan Habib, came to me mentioning my chances of attending the Future NEWS conference 2015 in Scotland.
My immediate reaction was one of surprise and disbelief. I said, “What? Are you serious?” Ahsan replied, “The British Council invited Prothom Alo to select two candidates. He later explained the processes of selection. There would be a competition where the candidate would write and submit a composition of 500 words on a specific topic which was “Why does journalism need me?” He also mentioned that after review and evaluation by the British Council, deserving candidates would be called to face an interview.
I submitted the composition and anxiously waited for the result. After a few days, we were called by the British Council authority to attend the viva. Though I was a little nervous, I managed to get selected for my experience in the field of journalism. We started on 2 September 2015 and we stayed at Edinburgh for seven days. Our conference venue was the Scottish parliament. There were around 100 participants from all over the world attending the Future NEWS conference. During the conference, we shared work experiences and made connections with the participants. The conference was very insightful and an experience of a lifetime. Four of us from Bangladesh went to attend the conference and the British Council was always very helpful in ensuring that we were informed and assisted in every step, starting from getting the visa to availing other facilities.
During the conference, we met famous journalists from Reuters, SA TV, BBC, CNN, BuzzFeed, The Herald, Al Jazeera and much more where they shared their experiences and talked about how social media changed and challenged the world of journalism. They also taught us about the basic knowledge of journalism. Important issues around the use of social media were also discussed where the renowned journalists mentioned that nowadays through social media, anyone can share information. But that does not make them journalists. They explained that this is because journalists put their opinions aside and then present the story to the people from a neutral position. They are responsible and they care about the society and victims of the country. They said that journalists are the voice of the vulnerable people and that makes journalism a lifestyle and not an occupation.
Besides being a copy-editor, I also help to organise training at our offices. The Future NEWS conference helped me improve my skills as a copywriter as well as a trainer.
Despite many obstacles, in Bangladesh, the young journalists are doing amazing job. Four of us had a chance to represent the young journalists of our country in front of the rest of the world and I am very grateful to the British Council for this opportunity. Apart from being an excellent organisation, the British Council is now a friend to me on whom I can rely on for help and support in times of need. People who aspire to learn and work towards a better Bangladesh should visit the British Council and learn about opportunities what this organisation has to offer to people like us. I am grateful to the British Council for giving me this experience.