Studying journalism in this day and age

Design: Abir Hossain

Watching movies like Spotlight and All the President's Men, I used to look in the mirror and think, "I can be another Michael Rezendes or Carl Bernstein if I had the nose for news." The admissions process rolled around, and I was not exactly thrilled to learn that I would be able to major in Political Science. My heart yearned for journalism, so I migrated departments.

I had many things to bemoan, but not migrating to journalism. The teachers were enthusiastic about their subjects, and the curriculum was just what I was looking for. I am currently in my third year and have missed a total of only four classes, primarily because I love what I study. I learned about so many things alongside the fundamentals of journalism. I learned about the nuances Mrinal Sen left in his films, and I learned about how Nazi party employed propaganda to manipulate the Germans. I learned about what a staccato lead is and how Chanakya's Arthashastra was a practical guide to governing a nation. Studying journalism has marked an epoch in my life.

Right after starting classes, the pandemic gripped the world. My spirit did not diminish even during the online classes. With nothing to do but stay chronically online, I read online discourses about Mushtaq Ahmed and Ahmed Kishore being detained under the Digital Security Act. Then, in 2021, Rozina Islam faced charges under Articles 379 and 411 of the Penal Code as well as Articles 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act 1923 for her anti-corruption reporting. I gradually realised that pursuing a career that this major will lead to had its risks, and my dream of being another Rezendes or Bernstein might even put me behind bars. The recent case of Shamsuzzaman Shams does not ease my worries.

As I weigh the risks and uncertainties involved in this field against other seemingly "safe" career options, the constant questions about my chosen journalism major haunt me every day. Every sentence I may write carries the burden of possible misinterpretation, I can only hope that what I write aligns with the law when it should align with the truth. So, I learn to censor myself.

The urge to leave the country for higher education and never return can be strong, fuelled by the unpredictable future of journalism in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, an inner voice fully comprehends the dire consequences of the words I speak and write and urges me to stay in my country and make a difference, whatever obstacles stand in my way. Because in times like these, my responsibility to contribute to the betterment of my country goes beyond my mere journalistic title.

Azra Humayra is questioning her major and would appreciate some good music to complement her despair. Send her songs at: [email protected]