8 Things About TV News Reporting We Learnt From Arfa Shahid

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Reporting is a fundamental part of journalism. If it wasn’t for courageous, truth speaking reporters, some of the most important news stories would never reach us. In a world where we have so many distractions, reporters highlight what otherwise might bypass the average viewers knowledge. A reporter delves deep into facts and stories to deliver authentic accounts about people and events. There’s much more to this profession than interviewing famous people. Ironically, there’s very little reporting that happens about the profession itself —  we decided to change that. This week at the Mashion HQ we had Arfa Shahid come in. Being a TV news reporter as well as a model, she shared with our followers the challenges, tricks, and advantages of her job. If you couldn’t follow the session — here’s everything you need to know!

1. Difference Between Reporting And Journalism

Journalism is a vast field comprised of several departments which are in their own ways responsible for gathering, assessing and delivering news and information. An integral part of journalism is the actual reporting itself. News reporting involves discovering and presenting important facts in a comprehensive, engaging way. According to Arfa, any good news reporter will eventually find themselves as a journalist. “With reporting, you provide straight facts. Journalism is more analytical and thus, opinionated and subjective.”

2. Social Anxiety Is Not A Hindrance

Social anxiety — a disorder which causes a person to get anxious in social situations — is much more common than one might imagine. Living with this disorder isn’t easy for anyone, and can even make basic interaction incredibly intimidating at times. Someone pursuing a career which places a strict requirement on them to interact with all sorts of different people might find it difficult to navigate a day at work. Interviewing different people, networking, and staying in contact with acquaintances as well as strangers are basic demands of the job. They may not sound very challenging, but for someone suffering from social anxiety, these tasks are nothing less than a nightmare. Our expert, who herself suffers from social anxiety, assures readers that social anxiety shouldn’t be a deterrent in any way. “As someone with social anxiety, you can absolutely be a news reporter. Once you learn how to manage it and get it under control, you can absolutely achieve your goals.”

3. Stereotypes About Pakistani Women

History is proof of how women have always played a key role in the development of Pakistan. Despite social barriers, women have managed to make a name for themselves in almost every major field. From running the country to running major corporations, they’ve consistently broken stereotypes by never breaking their resolve. Despite this, the western world tends to view Pakistan with a twisted lens. Arfa Shahid, who has shattered many glass ceilings herself, disagrees with this perception of the west. “They think Pakistani women are not empowered, independent or confident — which is not true. Through my work they are able to see that yes, we are all of that.” 

4. Challenges Of A Male Dominated Industry

Media: print, social and digital — is largely a male dominated industry. There is a huge percentage of women that actively work in this sector, but not nearly as many men. Working and carving your name in an environment that’s built to work against you is never smooth sailing, but all that means is putting your head down and putting in the extra effort and hard work it takes to get to be recognised. It’s just the nature of the job. Our expert admits how reporting is associated with men more than it is with women in our society. “Working in a male dominated industry is tough, especially when it is accompanied with a bunch of values that are quite medieval — regarding representation, feminism and things like that. My toughest challenge has been getting people to take me seriously and trust that I can actually do my job well, especially because I’m young.”

5. Getting Friendly With The Camera

Does the thought of being on camera or on a screen with potentially thousands of people watching you make you uncomfortable? You’re not alone. In fact, you’d be surprised to know how many actors and celebrities have all started out being extremely camera shy. It may be tricky to deal with, but it’s far from impossible to overcome. “Getting comfortable in front of the camera is definitely a process. It takes time for me too. But when you keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and you keep doing it over and over again, you get used to it and become comfortable eventually.”

6. Representation Matters

Being plus size in a world that’s obsessed with a certain size is definitely a challenge — especially when it comes to industries like media, which lack diversity. A lot of women think careers in media are off limits to them because of how they may or may not look. Arfa also had to face the challenge of being both plus size and hijabi — two things that are rare to find on camera when flipping through the news. “I think representation is a massive issue. Media makers and broadcast media in particular has very rigid standards of what an ideal presenter should look like. So I think there needs to be more inclusivity in terms of people of size, colour, ethnicity, and hijabis.”

7. The Secret To Improvising

Coming up with impromptu questions, witty remarks and reactions is a crucial aspect of news reporting as well. A reporter always needs to be prepared to deal with a spontaneous situation that might have not been expected. For a beginner, this can be a tricky task. Arfa accepts that it’s sometimes difficult to think on your feet, especially when you have random assignments for which you don’t get a chance to prepare in advance. But she believes like everything else, every reporter gets used to this as well. She suggests following the news constantly so you have an idea of the kinds of questions you might be asked in return, and to learn how other reporters handle similar predicaments.

8. Is Reporting Scripted?

Are the questions and answers we see reporters saying on camera pre-planned, or completely candid? If you’re a follower of news reporting, then you must be familiar with the term ‘scripted.’ According to our expert, whether an interview is scripted or not depends on the type of event and story. She says, “In events like Pakistan Super League (PSL), which are live, everything is unscripted because you never know which celebrity or public figure you may encounter. But a report is usually scripted and is based on planned questions.”

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