Saad Hammadi goes back to the time when he first joined New Age and shares his memories of working at the newspaper, the thrills and excitements of it ahead of a transition
Transitions are difficult and yet they are consistent. Since birth we keep growing up, growing into someone, some aspire to grow and then at one time we wish to go back to times, only that by this time we know we cannot go back.
New Age is part of one of my most difficult times of life. It has given me all the space and exposure that I have used to explore the world of journalism and become the journalist I have become. This is where I began my stint of investigative journalism.
I tasted the essence of journalism as early as 17, when The Daily Star published my first article on its technology page. The editor of the page later offered me to write for them regularly and thus began my journey. Back then, having my name published in a newspaper and that too in Bangladesh’s largest circulated English daily meant like a big achievement. In fact that was the thrill that got me into the trade of journalism.
Times have changed, so have the reasons I have remained in the profession but since then I have been hooked into this world of possibilities, a ball that never stops rolling, a skill full of surprises, excitement, adventure, thrill and risk too.
I was ushered into a team of writers producing powerful feature stories. I was exposed to the idea of investigative journalism and how one goes behind the everyday-story to unearth stories behind stories.
These have been fascinating experiences. I travelled to the borders to investigate child trafficking, to Bhola and Gaibandha to report on effects of climate changes, met people at 3:00am to discover the strings and rackets of corruption inside the police force, worked undercover as ward boy at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital to unravel corruption at different stages and these are only some of the memories off the top of my mind that I cherish, that I have lived the thrill of doing.
I wish I could write every moment that I have lived here at New Age. I have spent nights sifting through confidential documents handed to me, then a 20-year-old, by state agencies filling me up with information about notorieties around frontiers, warehouse of contraband drugs.
A call at 4:00am from a law enforcement director about recoveries of bombs in one of Dhaka’s far ends and I was off the bed, rushing into my pants and running under the deep blue skies yet to see light of the day to find a taxi to reach the place. This job has given me opportunity to witness preparations and subsequent operations of security forces to bust crimes. A lot of these have happened through contacts I have made well in course of time to facilitate me with tip offs.
And then there were so many other stories. The story of a mother who has been fighting for seven years to find justice for her daughter’s murder, story of a person who served jail for a crime he never committed and so many more.
I was staff of a feature section who could have sat at the desk working the crafts of language to produce a nice feature piece out of news reports. But I knew my forte was on the ground. I enjoyed reporting from the ground. I took the leverage of being in the feature section so I could witness an incident unfold and get into the detail of the stories as opposed to speaking from the surface of an incident.
I am grateful to find some of the greatest journalists with the skills and leadership who have helped me streamline my goals and motivate me to strive for better. It is almost a nostalgic experience as I write this piece.
In January 2015 I began my new stint with New Age Youth as its editor. Some people said that this was one of the cursed supplements where no one could survive. I thought, so be it. If that is what they say, my job is to turn it around.
Almost one and half years later, New Age Youth has a team of 12 writers. The last feedback I have had from my publisher is that it is doing great in the market, the response is positive and it has developed a character of its own. What more could I ask for!
It has been a decade since I joined New Age and this is my journey in a nutshell as I make a transition out of this dynamic, daring and outspoken daily. This paper has a crucial decade of my life and will remain dear to me for all the good memories and lessons it has granted me.
– Saad Hammadi is the editor of New Age Youth