If you're not extremely ambitious and if you're not willing to work extremely hard, any other skills you have may prove to be unhelpful in the rush-hour-at-all-times world of television news. Given below are excerpts from the interview, chosen especially to give television journalism aspirants an insight into what it means to work with one of India's top TV news organisations.
What is a typical workday like?
My day start at 9 am and wraps at 11 pm — so it is long! Mornings are spent with reporters as I head the bureau. Some days I have interviews and events. Afternoons are spent editing scripts and planning. Later, 8 pm to 10.30 pm is time spent in the studio for CNN-IBN and CNBC.
You are one of the most recognised faces of Indian news today, what do you credit for your success?
Hard work, commitment and perseverance. I have very rarely said no. I have worked for almost every channel on Network 18. CNBC, Awaaz, CNN-IBN, South Asia World. I have tried to be as versatile as possible. So business, politics, feature programming, I have done it all. I have also stayed away from positioning myself only as an anchor. I have always produced my shows and I will continue to do so. I have also tried to be a nurturing team leader and take people along, which help our shows look better.
That one needs to be outgoing for a career in television goes without saying. What are the other personality traits you think an aspiring TV journalist needs?
The ability to handle pressure is a must. It is a tough job, both physically and mentally taxing. You have to be on your feet for long hours and mentally alert every second. Operating in a live environment means reacting to news as it breaks, making sense of it in a few seconds and adding value in a couple of minutes.
Good communication skills, comprehensive knowledge of current affairs, writing are important as well.
What advice would you have for aspiring TV journalists?
Don't do it for the glamour. There is nothing glamorous about it. A large chunk of a TV journalist's job is donkey's work. Standing around for hours to get a 20-second sound bite is about perseverance not glamour.
Be prepared to say goodbye to your social life and get ready to be on call 24x7. Ignite a fire inside you, not just to do big stories and interviews but also to do good quality work, that's fair and honest consistently.
What do you think is the most common mistake newcomers make? What advice do you have to give them in this regard?
Wanting to taste success without doing the time — you have to be patient. You have to get your hands dirty. Don't box yourself into roles and responsibilities. Learn to multi-task. Learn to work in a team. TV is all about teamwork.
You can read the full interview here: "You have to react to news as it breaks: Shereen Bhan".
- Also read: Commits alumna Faye D'Souza (Class of 2004) on what it takes to be a news anchor.