IJNet Journalist of the Month: Muhammad Egamzod

by IJNet
Oct 30, 2018 in Journalist of the Month

Each month, IJNet features an international journalist who exemplifies the profession and has used the site to further his or her career. If you would like to be featured, email a short bio and a paragraph about how you have used IJNet here.

This month's journalist, Muhammad Egamzod of Tajikistan, received a fellowship for investigative training through IJNet, which he said helped to cover issues which Tajik migrants in Russia face.

IJNet: Where do you work now?

Muhammad Egamzod: Currently I work as a head of Tajik Media Holding TAJINFO in Russia, which owns the newspaper Tochikoni Russia (Tajiks of Russia), the magazine "Tajikistan", the website Tajinfo.ru in Russia, as well as the newspaper Imruz (Today), and the magazine Behtarin (The Best) in Tajikistan.

IJNet: How did IJNet help you?

ME: Nowadays when we constantly explore new trends in the society, we often face challenges in the preparation of editorial content in terms of legal issues. I think that IJNet is one of the comprehensive information resources, which in many respects can be useful for journalists.

IJNet: Where do you get themes for your materials?

ME: From everyday life. In the last 15 years working in Russia, I realized that for me as a Tajik journalist there is nothing more important than themes of life and the huge army of migrant workers from Tajikistan. This theme is very vital. Labor migration has become one of the most important phenomena of modern life in Tajikistan. In fact, there are no aspects of society in which it has not had an impact. That is why almost all of our publications focus on this topic. In addition to that, we constantly monitor the process of relations between Russia and Tajikistan.

IJNet: What training or education programs have been particularly helpful to you?

ME: IJNet posted an announcement about the training for investigative journalists "Scoop Russia", a Swedish-Danish project in Kalmar, Sweden, which aimed to support investigative journalism in Russia. The project is run by the Swedish association of investigative reporters (FGJ), Danish Association for investigative journalism (FUJ) and International Media Support (IMS). In Russia, the program is coordinated by the Regional Press Institute (RPI). I participated in this training, which took place at the Institute for Journalism Fojo. I have to note that, regardless of the fact that I had a 20 years of journalistic experience, for me this training was very important – I was able to learn many important things, especially the legal aspects of my work.

IJNet: What is your proudest work, in your opinion?

ME: The subject I have focused on concerns how, at present, according to various sources, outside of Tajikistan there are up to one million Tajik citizens working for years, three quarters of whom are men between the ages of 18 and 55. This is almost half of the the able-bodied male population.

They leave in search of a decent wage, leaving at home their wives and children, in a vain attempt to return home after a year or two. However, recently there has been a new trend: Tajik men who are working abroad, primarily in Russia, increasingly get divorced from their wives via text message by cell phone. The men, being a long time in labor migration, meet new friends, get a joint household, and declare to their wives a "taloq”), which means divorce according to Islamic law. In this case, the absence of an official document of divorce does not matter. The overwhelming majority of women, especially in rural areas, are forced to reckon with ancient traditions and go back as a "grass widow" to their parents' house, where they are forced to endure humiliation and resentment on the part of relatives and neighbors, or after some time, depending on age, become the second or third wife of a wealthy middle-aged fellow countryman.

In this project we needed to know the opinion of many people, ranging from the migrants and their wives to the famous theologians of Tajikistan and Russia, lawyers, human rights activists, and parliamentary deputies.

IJNet: What advice would you give aspiring journalists?

ME: Young journalists need to be artistically talented people, understanding the needs of their audience, yet our distinct professional and moral codex means they must not falsify the facts, follow the way of staging or rigging a story, even if it leads to momentary celebrity. The pursuit of sensation can turn into a problem. A journalist plays an important role in society, and he has no right to convey incorrect information.