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Sofyan Aswad: ”Everyone in the room just stared at the professor. He compared Life to a bag ”

Sofyan Aswad.
Sofyan Aswad.
Foto:Lasse Ottosson

Learn to live just as you’ve always dreamed of doing. Enjoy every day of the week, no matter whether it is Friday or Monday. Study or work, meet family and friends, jog, do some cooking, tidy up. Last but not least, relax on the sofa with a favourite book. And don’t neglect your sleep.

In studied journalism at Al Jinan University in Lebanon. After graduating I spent a few years working on a newspaper in Syria. I collected huge amounts of information in order to write long, well-balanced news articles. My work was flexible. There was a lot to do, round the clock. I was satisfied with my work and my life.

One day at university my professor lectured on what distinguishes a good journalist. He started talking about Life. Everyone in the room just stared at the professor. He compared Life to a bag. You’re the one who puts things into your bag. If it’s empty, then it’s empty. If it’s full of things, then it’s full. The contents of the bag can vary, of course, but the choice of what goes in is up to you.

The world needs people who can spread the truth, not false information that has passed through many filters

That is exactly how a journalist should reason, he said. The more information you collect, the more interesting your article will be. But sometimes you sit there with mounds of information and simply don’t know where to begin writing. In that case there are three things you must keep in mind:

1: You don’t have to feel stressed.

2: You’ve come a long way already.

3: You have things under control. Take a break from writing and do something complete different.

I learned that to be a successful journalist you must be on the spot when things happen. Those were my professor’s very words. If a bomb detonates, you must be there at once, he said. As fast as possible, see for yourself, hear what has happened, and let people know, as fast as you can, objectively and professionally.

The world needs people who can spread the truth, not false information that has passed through many filters. In my work in Syria I was unable to write everything I wanted to. There was no question of writing anything that was not sanctioned by the regime.

That is something we can do in Sweden.

Just imagine if we all could try to write and formulate out thoughts in an honest, humane way. An enormous amount of information and opinions are spread every day in the media. Their content varies, as do their claims and messages. What the truth is, is also variable.

I would like to send a message to all of you, journalists and non-journalists alike: Let the truth be known, be as objective and transparent as you possibly can, whether you live in Sweden or elsewhere.

With that, I would like to wish you all a really fine, relaxing summer – and don’t forget to take care of those closest to you.