Quick facts about Jessica Mudditt
I am a 30-something Australian/British citizen with a passion for travel, culture and literature
I have lived and worked as a journalist in Yangon since July 2012
Before that I spent three years in Bangladesh honing my journalism skills
I love writing, blogging, photography, animals and my family
Want more? Here’s a really, really long bio…
I grew up in Melbourne’s safest suburb of Park Orchards and studied Arts/Law at Monash University. I realised quite early on in my degree that practicing law wasn’t for me, but for better or worse (I daresay worse) I didn’t wake up to the fact that it was journalism I wanted to pursue until several years later. The epiphany came right at the end of year spent travelling through Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, Nepal, India and Pakistan. During the very last days of my trip I visited the Pakistan War Museum in Rawalpindi, where a not-so-scary military official invited me into his office for a cup of tea. Without thinking, I proceeded to blurt out question after (innocent!) question – and at one point he stopped me and said, “Are you a journalist?”
I wasn’t, obviously, but the fact that he thought I might be felt like the highest of compliments – and ignited some kind of confidence inside me. I landed in London a few days later; determined to work out how people like myself turn themselves into journalists. I started attending night school journalism classes at SOAS while working for a government agency that was involved in all things teaching. Towards the end of the course, our lecturer mentioned the possibility of becoming accredited as a newspaper journalist by the UK’s National Council for the Training of Journalists. I completed the intensive six-month course (shorthand and all) that same year, which was 2009. But the awful problem was that I couldn’t convert my multiple internships at newspapers in London into actual paid work. Local newspapers seemed to be folding every other week. A newspaper that I’d been interning with for the best part of a year suddenly issued its staff reporters with laptops and asked them to file stories remotely from parks and coffee shops, as rent overheads had become untenable.
“It’s too cold in the parks and we can’t pay for multiple coffees in a cafe!” they protested, but to no avail. I realised sadly that that the situation was professionally untenable for unproven pond scum such as I.
In sheer desperation, I shot out an email requesting a six-month internship in Bangladesh with The Daily Star. Thanks to my lucky stars, my request was granted.
I spent the next three years living in Bangladesh. Dhaka’s booming media scene gave me the chance to establish myself as a “proper” journalist: the opportunities were vast and the stories and sources were out-of-this-world (more about that in my book). Before I’d even completed my internship with The Daily Star I was offered a position as special corespondent at The Independent, a national English language daily newspaper.
It was also in Dhaka that I met my husband of three years, Sherpa, who initially started off as my translator and swiftly became the love of my life. For the past two years Sherpa’s headed up Myanmar Business Today as its editor-in-chief. Dhaka really was rich in its gifts: it also gave me an experience that I hope to retell in the form of a book. I’m working on that as we speak…
Playing dress-ups with my sister-in-law and cousin in Bangladesh…
I moved to Myanmar in July 2012 after being offered a job with The Myanmar Times. I was also exhausted by Dhaka. It’s a city that The Economist has ranked as the world’s second most unliveable for four consecutive years (Mogadishu held the top spot until war-torn Damascus in Syria overtook it in 2014). I joined the weekly newspaper as a sub-editor and later took on the role of features editor. I quickly developed a fascination for all things Myanmar.
After some 15 months with The Myanmar Times, in September 2013, I switched to full-time freelancing. This gave me a free reign to pursue the stories I’d longed to chase. My feature articles were published in Mizzima, DVB, Irrawaddy and IRIN News – as well as an assortment of travel, lifestyle and trade magazines. I also worked as a part-time sub-editor at the first privately owned English daily newspaper, Myanma Freedom Daily, until it suspended publication in April 2014.
Fact 3 -
I started working at the British Embassy in Yangon in September 2014. The role is a six month consultancy as UK Trade and Investment’s project manager – a truly excellent opportunity. As a result, I’ve retired from journalism until March 2015.