My childhood in Afghanistan coincided with a communist regime under which we had access only to government-sponsored media, including TV, radio, and a couple of newspapers—all tools for government propaganda. My understanding of journalism then was as a profession that works for and praises the government.
In December 2001, a team from The New York Times traveled to Bamian, Afghanistan’s central highland. The Times reporter Barry Bearak touched the lives of ordinary residents in those mountainous villages; he listened to their stories, their pain, and their struggle to survive. His story was an inspiration to me and an introduction to the independent journalism which I engaged in for more than a decade.