There are two obvious jobs in which being able to read, write and speak perfect English is of the utmost importance – English teacher and journalist. These are the two occupations that use the language every day and the people working roles like these are generally the most pedantic about getting it right (take it from this writer right here!). They’re not the ones you want to send spelling mistakes to by email, that’s for sure.
Kashfia Kabir is certainly one of those people but while she admits she has a few grammatical bugbears, she confesses she is partial to the odd pun. She has grown up with a fondness for the English language, despite not being a native Brit (she was born in Sweden and soon moved to Bangladesh before coming to the UK aged 17 for her A levels) and she now works as a multimedia journalist for What Hi-Fi?
We stopped to talk to Kashfia in between penning articles to find out how she went from being a kid who loved listening to stories to someone who pens them herself for a living...
How did you come to work as a journalist?
I knew I always wanted to write. I always loved reading books and I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my life than write stories. So I studied English Literature at the University of Sussex to broaden my knowledge, and then did an MA in Journalism (with NCTJ accreditation) at Brunel to focus on a path that would lead me to a job in which I’d get to write on a daily basis. I’m a big fan of film, TV shows, music, art, tech and space science, so I was determined to get job on a magazine that focused on these interests.
Are there any writers who particularly inspired your journey?
Neil Gaiman. My favourite writer of all time. He has a huge repertoire of writing lots of different styles – mainly fantasy, but also sci-fi, mystery, satire and children’s books. He started out as a journalist too, writing book and music reviews.
What is it that you love about the English language?
The fun thing about English (no, really!) is that because it’s created from a mix of different languages, there are loads of loopholes and ways to bend the rules and get creative with your writing. Plus, puns are fun.
How important is having a good grasp of it to your role?
Paramount. Nothing else in the world matters if you want to be a professional writer. You have to know all the rules about grammar and punctuation and be consistent in your writing – it’s what gives you authority and makes your readers interested in what you have to say. Any mistakes (no matter how miniscule) and your readers will lose confidence in you.
So are there any grammatical mistakes that make you seethe when you see them?
So many. It’s/Its. You’re/Your. Their/There. Misplaced apostrophes. Not being consistent with your capitalisations and not using commas in the right place (or at all).
Ok, we’ll stop getting you riled up by misplaced punctuation and move on… What’s the best thing about being a journalist?
Getting to write for a living, meeting a lot of interesting people and going to cool places for press events that I otherwise would never have.
Do you get lots of freebie gadgets at What Hi-Fi?
Not as much as you'd think! I have a couple of goodies, though.
What’s the most stressful part of your job?
Deadlines. Even though I work best when I’m under pressure, there’s nothing like a looming deadline to keep you stressed out. Getting writer’s block is never a good feeling, either.
How does your writing differ when you’re writing for the web to writing for the print magazine?
Not much anymore, because we write our reviews for both print and web. I think I’ve found a happy balance between hitting all the SEO essentials while also being creative with my writing. Composing tweets is more of a challenge!
Finally, have you got any tips for budding journos who would like to follow in your footsteps?
If you have a particular interest and want your voice heard, start a blog and find your writing voice through it. Read other people’s works (especially those whose writing you like) and lots of different magazines for inspiration and to help your writing evolve. Be open to criticism, and always heed your subeditor’s advice. Most of all, just keep writing.
If you’re inspired by Kashfia’s career path and would like to do the same, there are plenty of courses you can choose from to get you started, from English to Journalism.