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One of the best ways to find become excellent is to look at others who have walked the path before you. Here’s a list of people whose work I admire, for various reasons. They deserve note, for their style and longevity.

Christiane Amanpour

Christiane is a British-Iranian reporter and television host who grew up in London. She has worked as the global affairs anchor for the ABC News in America. Also, with CNN International, she hosts a show called “Amanpour”, which is an interview program that runs on in the evenings. Interestingly, Amanpour has been active in the journalism career for more than thirty years. She has an amazing record of being the only journalist who ever interviewed Hosni Mubarak and among the few who interviewed Muammar Gadhafi in the Arab Spring. Amanpour has garnered awards including Television Academy Award (once), George Polk Awards (twice), DuPont-Columbia Award (three times), and News and Documentary Emmys (nine times). Amanpour’s relevance is illustrated by her membership commitment as a board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Center for Public Integrity among others. You can get to read about her works from https://edition.cnn.com/shows/amanpour.

Carrie Gracie

Gracie is of Scotland origin. She became a vibrant journalist who had her early years of practice in the province of China. In 1999, her career started to accelerate as she served with the BBC World News. The reputable programs she anchored BBC News (Channel) where she was the main presenter on Tuesday to Friday mornings. She is also the presenter of The Interview on the BBC World Service. Gracie’s successes include the coverage of the death of Deng Xiaoping the Hong Kong handover. She was a commentator in the 2008 Summer Olympic in Beijing. Another notable professional credit was her interview with Alan Johnston who was abducted by the Palestinian militants of Islam. The latter earned with the Nick Clarke Award. You can read her reputable works from https://carriegracie.com/

Zain Asher

Zain Ejiofor Asher is a Nigerian-British journalist whose journalism prowess is explored in the world of financial reporting. For anyone who wants the niche –finance in journalism, Asher offers a good example. She anchors the CNN Newsroom on weekdays, which holds by 2:30 PM ET. Also, with CNN, she works in the New York City media house as a business correspondent. Asher also works at news 12 Networks as TV reporter, in Brooklyn. Her professional breakthrough included her cover story on the abduction of two hundred schoolgirls by the Boko Haram militants. She also covered the earthquake in Nepal, in the year 2015, with a category above 7, claiming eight thousand souls with many other thousands of injured persons. She made it to Charlie Hebdo’s office to air the report about one of the world notable shootout in France.

Rosemary Church

Rosemary works at CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta. She anchors the 2 – 4 AM edition of Newsroom. She has a track record working with the news and current affairs division of Australian Broadcasting Corporation. At ABC News, she worked at the international arm as a senior Rosemary worked as a reporter for Foreign Correspondent. Also, at Tasmania, she anchored The World At Noon. An important point in Rosemary’s career includes her weekend news presentations on Network Ten. From the 80s to 90s, she hosted a Sunday morning radio show, “Church on Sunday” –a lively program that rocks with music. She won the New York Festival award for the coverage of the Hong Kong to China handover. She was a nominee of the News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form

Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper, an American journalist and author, is the Chief Washington Correspondent for CNN. He anchors the prominent shows The Lead with Jake Tapper and “State of the Union” He worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, where he served as a Correspondent to the White House. There, he earned an honorary award from the “White House Correspondents’ Association” Merriman Smith Memorial Award for journalism. Tapper’s noticeable achievements include the coverage of the inauguration of former President Obama; the coverage was awarded an Emmy which earned Outstanding Live Coverage of a Current News Story, and being a part of the team that videoed “Target bin Laden: The Death of Public Enemy#1”

Sophy Ridge

Ridge is an English broadcast journalist who had a record for working with the tabloid newspaper News of the World, where she started out. Later, she got a permanent appointment with Sky News, as a political correspondent. Sophy Ridge on Sunday became her show on the Sky News. She sets an impressive example of political journalism. She was honored with the MHP Communications 30 to Watch. She was also won Top rated female political blogger in the Total Politics Blog Awards and Broadcast Journalist of the Year, in 2016. She owns the website https://www.sophiaridge.com/#Home.

Jacky Rowland

Jacky Rowland is another interesting journalist whose career began as a graduate trainee with BBC. She worked with BBC World where she served as a correspondent in the Northern Africa. She was also one of the first journalists from the West appointed to travel to Afghanistan right after the 911. She gave a good impression that she was reported as one of the fastest emerging BBC stars, by “The Telegraph”. A significant professional achievement was her report in Kosovo, from the Serbian after the NATO bomb incident. She won an award from the Royal Television Society based on her coverage of the Belgrade revolution.

Mark Seddon

Born Mark Anthony Seddon, the British journalist has worked as a correspondent for the United Nations and Diplomatic Correspondent for the Al Jazeera network, English, and had previously worked as an editor of Tribune. He rose to become the Director of Communications for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. He was once a Diarist for the Evening Standard and a consistent contributor to The Guardian, The Times, Daily Mail, Country Life, and other media platforms. Seddon happens to be the first journalist who revealed the actual occurrence of the extraordinary rendition on the Indian Ocean’s Territory in the Diego Garcia Island.

Anderson Cooper

Cooper is an American journalist. He had a good record of working with the ABC News as a news correspondent and an anchor at CNN. He hosts the program “Anderson Cooper 360” which has propelled him into popularity. His prominent work includes Hurricane Katrina and the war in Iraq. He has various awards that include Bronze Telly award for the Somalia famine and four times Emmy Awards, not minding other nominations.

Shereen Bhan

Shereen Bhan is a rising star in Indian Journalism. She anchors and produces different shows like The Nation’s Business, Power Turks and India Business Hour among others. She is the Executive Head of CNBC-TV18, an Indian channel. Apart from her sparkling beauty, she has a beautiful demeanor and friendliness. She has a basket of Awards that include the FICCI Woman of the Year Award and she holds her name in high esteem as a Young Global Leader in 2009, which was declared at the World Economic Forum.

A successful interview is important and can even be a fun and exhilarating experience for both the journalist and the interviewee. But like anything else, practice makes perfect. Journalists worry about include getting questions, trying to be calm, and most importantly, trying to connect with a subject. Empathy May be the most important tool in your kit. Empathy is relating to and communicating with people based on things that appeal to them and can trigger their emotions.

As an insider, I have some tips to share with you, on how to establish a good connection with your interviewee to make the interview entertaining and fun.

Background Research

Familiarity is what makes an interview interesting. And the best way to get familiar with someone whom you have, probably, not met until the interview day is to try to gather information about him/her. So, familiarity helps you to have a basis where conversations can be established. You don’t have to necessarily bear the load of the research. You can have one of your team members or an intern to do the background research. From this researched information, you can get choose something to work with.

Have a Conversation

Nervousness sets in when an interview becomes a ‘question and answer’ affair. It gets boring. You know, You: So, Jerry, what motivated to become an actor?” Jerry: Well, I was inspired by watching Harrison Ford act in the “Air Force One” movie, and I guess that did it.
You can spice up a conversation with, “Hi, Jerry! It is good to have you here. Knowing you appear so much on screen and sometimes the dexterity with which you pull your stunts, actions and gesture are astonishing. I can’t help imagining you when you were starting out. Could you share your experience with us, what it was like, deciding and getting started to be an actor?” Jerry would of course try to give you a flow of emotion. He might mention something that he hadn’t probably visited in his past, in a long time.
Conversation opens up the flow. It makes your audience see the mind of your guest, answering some questions you wouldn’t ask, but your audience might need the answers to.

Don’t be rigid; be flexible with questioning

It is good to make a list of the things to ask, however, it might kill creativity. When you have asked a question and your guest answers interestingly, with depths and scopes that might be strange, you should learn to flow, asking questions in the line that was veered to, for clarity sake. Following this pattern relaxes your guest. Making a list is good, however, following intuition, sequence and the storyline of your guest is better. Rigidity with a set of questions can make the interview look robotic and routine. To excel with flexibility, you have to be a good listener.

Flirt with Curiosity

Of all the qualities of an interviewer, curiosity is the most compelling skill that lets the subject keep speaking. Curiosity is the strength of a conversation. It is what stirs the other party to keep talking, making them feel important. While being curious, also make sure to be creative and sincere. Show your interest in knowing them, really. Don’t rush them with questions.

Own a Smile

Smiling solves a lot of problems. It shows a warm reception, reduces tension and it makes your guest feel comfortable around you. Don’t wear a smile as though it is part of your professional etiquette; own it and flaunt it. Research has proven, that people who smile look likable, competent and courteous. In addition, smiling helps you set the mood of your stage, beyond what the light, cameras and flashes can do for you. I bet that you would want the best from your guests and would want them to feel settled in and carefree to talk around you. So, don’t just wear a smile; own it and flaunt it!

Four main ideals are required in journalism ethics; seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent. All these continue to resonate in how journalists work and should conduct themselves. Considering these requirements you, as a journalist, are burdened with the necessity of striking a balance to provide the right kind of coverage for people and events. In the line of seeking the truth and reporting about it you should uphold the following:

  • Take full responsibility for the accuracy of your work. That means you must do a double check on all information collected. Corroborative evidence and references would be great things to check and provide. You should also use original sources as much as possible.
  • Don’t jump the gun on context. Be diligent and careful enough not to leave important details out of anything, while you are presenting a report.
  • Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Work on the story for as long as it takes you to get to the bottom of it.
  • While sourcing for materials and information, read and understand the mind, intention and the motive of the writer/informant, to decipher if they are not biased.
  • It should be a part of your integrity as a journalist to never plagiarize a work. Reference a source if you are getting information from them.
  • In the case where you have to protect an informant or a news source for security purpose, mention the reason why your source is kept anonymous.
  • Be the voice of those who do not have a voice or have limited voices.
  • If you are reporting, either orally or through writing, make provisions for your audience to verify. Provide sources and links that can validate your works.
  • Under no condition should you change, deliberately, or distort facts, evidence, contents and context, audio or visual properties of an information.
  • Strive for objectivity. You should never write a report in the favor of a group, ethnicity, race or an individual above another, without revealing your bias to the audience. Sincerity and transparency should be your ethic.
  • Don’t be judgmental in your reports. I understand that experiences from the past and news might form a basic knowledge about something, someone, or a group to you. While writing a report, hold such prior experience and news at a distance away from you.

MINIMIZE HARM:

  • Establish a balance between the people’s thirst for information against the possibility of harm and discomfort that it can cause to someone, a place or society.
  • Be careful with your choice of words. You should show or reflect compassion in your words. More acutely, be sensitive.
  • Understand that having rightful and legal access to information does not equate the ethical justification to publish or broadcast. Care about the things/information you share. It might pose threats to individuals, including yourself.
  • Be sensitive tonally when discussing with and about kids, sexual assaults and cultural diversities.
  • When dealing with criminal suspects, consider it a delicate issue. Consider the implication and the harm that it might create as a news source while the suspect is not charged yet.

ACT INDEPENDENTLY:

  • Avoid those with special interests.
  • Avoid offerings and gifts that accompany coverage of an event or news story.
  • Don’t receive information for sources that request money in exchange.
    • Sometimes, people take an advertisement as news. Be curious enough to clarify and categorize each lead you acquire. When content or information is sponsored, tag it as such.

BE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT:

  • Be prompt to respond to questions on accuracy, clarity, fairness and justice.
  • Acknowledge mistakes, and make corrections as quickly as possible. Tender apologies if there was any offense taken by anyone. Give details and reasons for corrections.
    • Treat others how you would want to be treated and always pull through with your commitments

These are not standard rules for a journalist to uphold. However, they are insightful about how to go. They cover the aspect of serving through journalism, protecting lives and humans under various conditions.

We all, as media and on-air personalities, desire to have our names known. More importantly, we want it known for a unique voice. What is a media voice?

My voice does not necessarily mean my tone of expression. My tone would be how I choose to express myself and relate to my audience or guest. It changes, depending on whatever social medium I am using. A tone is often personal in discussions and presentation platforms via radio or television; it could take other forms on different platforms where I am not directly seen or heard. Though, both tone and voice share similarities, they are not always the same. The voice is more encompassing than the tone.

Define your Path

In relating with rookie journalists and interns, something I realized is they don’t have a defined path, just yet. They are folks with good and brilliant talents. Some can write, sing, orate, research, and carry out profiling without stress. However, they go with the line, “I don’t know which one to focus on just yet.” Well, I understand their dilemma.

If you are like them, here is what you should know. It doesn’t matter how many strengths you think you have, there are lots of people who excel with the same strength. So, you just have to be decisive about which one you really want to showcase and how other things could complement the one you are going for. You can excel at anything you choose to do. However, to be known for a certain voice, you have to choose a path!

Understand your Audience

Having defined your path, now, you need to know who your audience is and the best method for grabbing their engagement and attention. To know this, you might have to do an extensive research.

Recreate your audience in your head or on paper. Do you know people like that? If you do, congratulations. If you don’t, fine tune your imagination to tally with the nearest types of people who might be your audience.

When you know your audience, then you have to develop and portray yourself just the way they would love you to be. If your audience is in the Caribbean, develop a program just for them, make yourself one of them and use a language just like them. Make sure your audience is real and not fictitious.

Develop your Own Persona

Having studied what you really enjoy about your influence, write down the things you admire them. Imagine how it would be. Now, I want you to think, if you were your own audience, would you like the new things you just developed? What criticisms would you probably offer? Would you be offended by such criticisms? How can you furnish yourself unto perfection against such criticisms?

When you have developed your on-air persona, explore it till you reach perfection. Practice it as much as you can. Let it become your second nature. While you do these things, don’t have the mindset “I just want to be unique” or “I have to be different.” You are only doing you, the way you want to.

You Don’t Have to be always Unique

There are times when your perfect dream is the exact program that someone you know is already living. In times like this, there could be a cloud of doubts, making you wonder if you can excel in such program as much as this known person does. This isn’t about competitiveness; remember. In anchoring an event or a show, understand that sometimes you don’t have to be unique. You only have to learn to do what you do, better and smarter! ‘Effective’ and ‘smarter’ wins the race, always.

Be Open to Comments and develop yourself

While you are trying to establish a footing on your voice’s path, it is possible that you veer off the road that complies with your audience’s desire. Be open to comments from people, especially ones from your audience. Don’t take it as pride or ignorance.

If someone from my target audience tells me, “Jane, I would love to have you improve on the way you smile; it makes you confident and relaxes those of us who watch you.”, then I had better work on my smile. I am to make sure I adjust, without disregarding the ethics of my profession. Also, learn cues or advise from the senior colleagues and those with experiences. They can set you better on your chosen path.

You are your own voice, first. Don’t stop developing and investing in you.