Afghan Zariza turns one: The joy of reaching a milestone
There is something extraordinary about celebrating anniversaries, especially the first one. The joy of surviving and sticking together for 12 long months is unparalleled. It is like reaching a milestone, conquering a mountain, crossing the English Channel, winning an Oscar. Perhaps, it is more difficult and demanding than that. The challenge lies in overcoming odds and carrying the torch forward.
For journalists, survival is a constant struggle. Every morning, we wake up to break a story, to expose a scandal, to smell the dirty socks. Stronger the smell; better is the story. In a place like Afghanistan, it is not always hunky dory though. It is like a tightrope walk without any protective gear.
Afghan Zariza, our labor of love, turned one this month. It has been a terrific year of journalism, a wonderful learning curve for all of us. In November 2013, we launched our first issue after 15 grueling months of reading, writing, analyzing and reviewing. We announced our arrival after meticulous research and market analysis, borrowing ideas from all the leading magazines of the world.
It was unarguably a path-breaking initiative, but it was also a big gamble. While electronic media in Afghanistan has taken rapid strides in recent years, the print media remains far from robust. Afghan Zariza was born to fill that vacuum. We decided to explore uncharted territory and test our limits. A world of limitless possibilities was awaiting us.
A bunch of young, bright Afghans – reporters, researchers, designers and editors – got together to give shape to their ideas, dreams and desires. They were not trained journalists but they were passionate and determined to translate their dreams into reality. They wanted to make a telling statement. They wanted walk the extra mile. They wanted to be the voice of voiceless.
Most of the news flowing in and out of Afghanistan is based on half-truths, conjectures, fabrications and propaganda. Afghan Zariza was born to give insider’s perspective with more clarity and precision to both Afghan and international readers. It sought to become the voice of ordinary Afghans and tell their untold stories to the outside world. The young Afghans decided to become the story tellers.
Over the past one year, we explored uncharted territories, created controversies, exposed political and financial scandals, highlighted issues related to women’s rights, reported extensively on administrative corruption and scourge of unemployment, paid tribute to rich history of arts and culture, and strived to redefine journalism in this war-weary country. We also made mistakes and tried to learn from those mistakes.
I am immensely proud of my young team for walking the extra mile to tell the untold stories. It is not one of the safest places for journalists, but we have pledged to pursue free, fair and fearless journalism. Our aim is to provide cutting-edge reportage, be the watchdog of society, custodian of public interest and stimulus of political and social change in this war-weary country.
Our first anniversary special issue hit stands earlier this month, with a recap of some of the best stories our reporters have done over the past 12 months. It feels immensely great to have survived for one long year, but there is still long way to go. We will continue to inform, educate and engage our readers, because we believe in the lofty ideals of free and independent media. Truth, for us, is sacred.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for your unconditional support and encouragement over the past one year. Afghan Zariza is here to stay.
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