My Passion for Journalism
“Stand on your feet and try not to buy newspapers for there are several at your uncle’s house.” Though many years have passed, I still keep in mind my dad’s advice given as he escorted me to Can Tho for studying the 12th grade. However, I put into effect just half of what he recommended: Always stand on my feet despite how hard my life has been. You may think newspapers are not expensive at all, why did he give me such advice? But you will sympathize with him if knowing that during high school, I was so addicted to newspapers that I used most of my weekly allowance to buy them. I always have had a thirst for knowing things around Vietnam and the world, and how they work. He feared if I spent my limited monthly allowance on newspapers, I would not have enough cash for living expenses and may neglect studying.
Being his beloved daughter, I have not ever disappointed him except my decision to become a journalist. My father expected me to follow his steps to become a teacher. In fact, though my love for newspapers was strong and I much admired reporters, never did I dare to dream of becoming a journalist. It was simply because I did not feel that I excelled in literature despite being the daughter of a well-known instructor of this subject. I used to think of myself as an example of the Vietnamese saying: “Cha lam thay, Con dot sach” (The father is a teacher, His child burns his books.) Instead I loved to study English. Hence, I chose it as my major with a target to become an interpreter. I prided myself on passing the entrance exam to Can Tho University right after finishing high school. Actually, nobody thought I could be admitted to college in the year of my parents’ divorce which was a terrible shock to me.
As a non-journalism graduate, to be honest, I would not have felt thoroughly confident to pursue journalism without the encouragement of my sweetheart who later became my husband. Nobody but he understood how passionate I was for newspapers and discovered that I did have a gift for journalism. While everyone called me stupid for refusing a highly paid job offered by a HCMC-based company, he supported my decision to apply to Can Tho Newspaper when it prepared to develop into the first daily in the Mekong Delta. He was the one correcting every single word and sentence in my first works before I handed them in to my boss. When I set a target of becoming an editor, it was also he who taught me how to edit articles. You surely suppose him to be a journalist but he is a lecturer of law. Though we cannot continue to be husband and wife, in my heart, he was the first instructor in my career. It was he who helped me realize journalism was the right profession for me.
Though it has not been easy to follow journalism, I have never regretted dedicating my career to it. The more I have worked, the more I have grown passionate for it and realized I actually did inherit a knack for writing from my dad. Although I had believed otherwise, I can see now that we are a living example of “like father, like daughter.” In my mind, like my father’s teaching, journalism is one of the most important and noble jobs in society. All journalists share a basic mission: give people the new and accurate information they need to understand the world around them and to make decisions about their lives. From the first day of officially joining the press in March 2000, I have been aware that I must be credible and responsible to the readers. With that motto in mind, I have spared no effort to improve professional skills and deepen understanding of many fields to provide readers with lively, practical and informative articles.
Thanks to my well-written articles and exertion in other aspects, I was nominated as a trainee editor only after three and a half years of working. At our newspaper, it takes at least 5 years for a journalist to be nominated as a trainee editor. Because of my candidness and lack of seniority, during nearly three years of training to be an editor, I encountered a lot of challenges. But I went through all convincingly and proved the editorial board was right when they decided to appoint me as an editor and transform my weekly page of Science and Life into an every-other-day one. At present, Science and Life is one of the longest lasting and most favorite pages on our publication. Despite the success of Science and Life, I am aware that my formal education in journalism should be supplemented in order for me to truly succeed in the job. Thus I have taken every chance to get formal training. In the years of 2005-2006, it was a great honor for me to be the first at our newspaper granted a one-month scholarship two times by the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Thailand. However, my Editor-in-chief refused to approve my study for he said such a course was too short to benefit at all.
Despite receiving numerous awards and certificates of merit from the editorial board, I consider letters and emails from the readers in which they express appreciation for my page as the most meaningful feedback. That invaluable reward not only serves as recognition of my work but also beams endless energy to help me keep perfecting my professional skills. After a decade of devotion to journalism, I find it is the right time to interrupt my favorite job to realize my long-prepared goal: pursuing a graduate program in journalism in the U.S.