Here we catch up with journalist and author Tasnim Nazeer, a year after receiving one of the Highly Commended Awards at the FIPP Rising Stars in Media 2018. Keep reading to find out more about her respect for war reporters, what's the industry slang she finds overrated and the one skill every journalist should acquire if the plan is to join a newsroom.
The FIPP Rising Stars in Media Awards 2019, kindly supported by UPM - The Biofore Company, recognise outstanding work in the global media industry. Winners will be announced at the FIPP World Media Congress Opening Reception taking place in Las Vegas on 12 November 2019. Entries are open now and the deadline is 30 September 2019.
1. What’s your current role?
I am a freelance journalist, author and producer who writes for variety of print and online publications including The Guardian, BBC, Huffington Post UK, TRT World and many more. I am also a contributor to BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought, a panelist for BBC TV Seven Days programme and front social media videos for BBC The Social. My work involves scriptwriting, presenting, writing and researching stories and often unearthing stories from underrepresented communities. I specialise in writing on human rights, world news and the Middle East and like to highlight issues that affect the wider society at large.
2. How did you get there?
I have always enjoyed writing from an early age, and this love of writing spurred me to eventually study journalism at a university. I had been writing articles since the age of 15, and did my first human rights feature for an international Sri Lankan newspaper on the tsunami. I went to Sri Lanka personally to visit the victims of the tsunami who had still not received aid and were inflicted with hardship.
It was both an emotional and rewarding experience that motivated me to continue until this day. I am currently balancing work and being a mother to five lively little ones, a journalist, and an author. When I had my fourth child I went onto study a Masters in International Journalism at Edinburgh Napier University where I developed skills in a variety of sectors within journalism and this helped me to broaden my experience and enhance my skills to keep up with the evolving industry.
Perseverance is key in journalism and I have realised that there will be challenges throughout your journey, there are pitches that will be rejected but you have to keep thinking up stories and be persistent in this industry.
3. What are your passions?
I love writing whether that be for a news story or doing creative writing for a script for radio. For me, family comes first and enjoy spending time with my kids who are all growing up way too fast! Away from journalism, I quite enjoy baking and it has become one of my favourite things to do as a past time. I do like to travel to different countries, meet new people and learn about different cultures.
4. Where is home?
I am a born and bred Londoner and that's where my parents live but I actually live up in Glasgow, Scotland with my husband and kids. For me home is both Scotland and London.
5. What do you like most about your city?
Glasgow is a friendly and diverse city with great historical heritage and loads of great stuff to do for both adults and children alike!
6. What did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was a child I used to cut out a hole in cardboard box and pretend I was a presenter on the TV, sometimes I was a newsreader. I do think that I actually always wanted to be a journalist and that hasn't changed.
7. How’s your typical work day?
As a freelance journalist every day is unpredictable. Some days I may have quite a lot of deadlines and others may be quieter. A typical busy day would include a hot cup of coffee, researching, interviewing, writing up, taking photos if required and liasing with editors. Other days I may be filming for a video for social media, working on scripts and presenting them on air.
8. An overrated slang word or term in the media industry…
Tweeps. Need I say more. All I hear is Tweeps to refer to Twitter users and it is used a lot in the media industry when addressing a Twitter following its one word that I haven't used (LOL).
9. How did it feel and what did it mean to be a Rising Stars in Media winner?
I was really honoured to be recognised by FIPP as one of the winners of the Rising Stars in Media awards and humbled to have been amongst the finalists. I couldn't quite believe it when I received an email informing me that I was one of the winners. It is a huge honour and I am really grateful to be recognised for the work that I have done and continue to work in the industry.
10. How has this recognition helped you in the past year?
As a recipient of the FIPP Rising Stars in Media Award it has opened up opportunities in being recognised for the work that I do and has helped me to further excel in opening doors that may have once been closed. It also helped me to network with other people in the industry and meet some amazing people at the awards reception.
11. What advice would you give to other young people in the industry?
I think that everyone is gifted in their own way and has their own unique talents. Seek out what you are good at and work hard to achieve your goals as success will only come through hard work and perseverance. This industry is evolving and it is important to try to always seek to improve no matter how much experience you may have. I always try to improve myself, learn new skills, meet new people and build on my knowledge and I have found that this has really helped me along the way. Keep believing in yourself that if you have the will to do something, you can achieve your goals and don't let anyone put you down.
12. What areas of the industry excite you going forward?
I think that the digital industry is evolving as social media has played a huge role in the way that we consume news and stories. I am excited about getting into more visual opportunities whereby I can create more video and film content to share stories both in the UK and internationally.
13. What are the attributes that you feel benefitted you in winning this award, that you can pass on to others?
I work hard and always continue to try to improve my skills and I think that is one of the attributes that I have developed throughout my career that has helped me excel. I am always a person who is grounded no matter what recognition I have achieved it really means a lot to me and I know that my intention of being a journalist was to highlight important issues and unearth underrepresented voices into the mainstream media. I always try my best to innovate and create content that addresses these issues and I think that by working hard and putting in the hard graft you can definitely achieve what you set out to do.
14. What’s been the most memorable thing you’ve taken from your job int he past 12 months?
The most memorable thing I have taken is the fact that I have met some wonderful people in the industry that I wish to work with and collaborate with and I think over the last 12 months the amount of people I have met has increased and will continue to do so as I think its great to learn from one another and great to share stories.
15. What’s the most recent professional skill that you have acquired?
The most recent professional skill I have acquired is video editing which I think is really important in journalism today and a must for the newsroom if I ever intend to go in-house.
16. Who do you look up to in the industry?
I think that Al Jazeera journalist and presenter Mehdi Hasan is a great role model as he is fearless in his interviews and speaks truth to power. I also admire war reporters such as Waad Al Kateab who made a very inspirational documentary being a mum in a war zone and now works as a journalist for C4.
17. What’s the best bit of your job?
The best bit of the job is the sense that you get to share your voice on important issues, meet a variety of different people from all walks of life and have the responsibility of informing the public of what is going on in the world that we live in.
18. How do you unwind when work is stressing you a lot?
I am a 'coffeeholic' so a good cup of coffee often de-stresses me.
19. A song that pumps you for work!
I haven't actually got a song that pumps me up for work, I am lumbered with the kids bathroom singing!
20. What would you tell your 16 year old self?
Don't give up on your dreams and stop letting other people's negative comments or bullying affect your ability to succeed in life. Keep going.
21. In another life, what would you have been?
I still would have loved to be a journalist or risk my life and be a war reporter who I have so much respect for.
22. What’s next in your career?
I am continuing to write for a publications, radio and TV and would like to get into doing more documentaries in the future.
23. Why should young people in the industry apply for the FIPP Rising Stars in Media Awards?
It is a great platform that makes your contributions to the industry feel valued, encourages and motivates you and enables you to network with some respected and pioneering leaders in the industry. I think young people should definitely apply and see their careers reach new heights.
Thanks Tasnim! Entries for the Rising Stars in Media Awardsn are open now and the deadline is 30 September 2019.
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