An interview with…3 female Journalists

Reya El-Salahi, former presenter at BBC Radio Nottingham

How did you get into the media industry?
I used to get really annoyed with the presentation and representation of how people from dual/mixed heritage were presented in the media. This pushed me to change that by working in Journalism.

When you were younger, what other jobs were on your horizon?
I did loads of stuff before I became a Journalist. When I was 18, I wanted to be a Social Worker but after work experience, I found this the most depressing job I have ever experienced! However, I have always been interested in people. Other than that, I just wanted to have a sweet shop to eat all the sweets!

Describe your educational background.
I grew up in the Middle East and came to the UK. I hated my comprehensive school and didn’t do very well in my GCSEs. I did better in my ‘A’ Levels and then studied Sociology at Nottingham University and then Postgraduate study in Broadcast Journalism at the London College of Communication.

What challenges have you faced over the years as a black female journalist?
My challenges have been more around not being white than being female. I have found that my peers are offered work on a far wider scale, something that I am constantly fighting against. But sometimes being passionate about something can also work to your advantage. For example, I sometimes relate a story in a different way because of my cultural heritage so there are bonuses for being unique!

Who would you like to interview?
I would have liked to interview Nelson Mandela but would love to interview the Director General of the BBC and put to him my questions and experiences as a black women working in the media industry.

Carol Hinds Journalist and Presenter, BBC East Midlands Today and Educator

What made you become a journalist?
I am from a family that is dominated by careers in education (my father was a teacher) and law so journalism was not a natural choice for me at a young age. My work experience began when I answered an advert in a local newspaper seeking volunteers to work on a local hospital radio station. I have also worked on Radio Preston and BBC Radio Humberside. This really whetted my appetite for journalism.

What are the perks of the job as a Broadcast Journalist?
I have three main duties: presenting, producing and reporting. I really enjoy reporting as there are loads of opportunities to be at the heart of the story with people. I didn’t go into journalism to be famous. What I really love is storytelling and within the black community, there is a strong story-telling tradition.

What did you study at university?
I studied Literature and History and then did a Master’s degree at the London School of Economics and a postgraduate Certificate in Media and TV Journalism at Preston Polytechnic now part of the University of Central Lancaster.

What irritates you?
When I go on a job and I am ignored by a receptionist. It’s the moment when he/she realises that I have come from the BBC then it’s suddenly like, “oh, I’m sorry how can I help you?” This makes me laugh but. really sad I think. I am not naive to think that the media industry is not without its prejudices but on the whole, I have had a good working life in broadcasting.

Who has been one of the most inspiring interviewees you have met?
It is not always the rich and famous but the person who has overcome an illness or achieved success through determination and effort.

Christine Belle, Radio Presenter, Kemet FM

Why choose Journalism as a career?
As a student, I chose to study English and Drama. After drama school, I attended Sussex University and fully expected to enter the teaching profession. But I fell out of love with teaching (insufficient patience) and needed to find something else to do.

Have you always loved reading and writing?
I have always loved narratives, reading novels, newspaper articles, writing poems and short stories so after a stint as a cinema usherette and cashier (an opportunity to access narrative through the medium of film), I found myself working with a collective of writers and community activists, presenting performance poetry. I’ve written stage and radio plays and worked as a Literature Development Officer for Nottinghamshire County Council.

Tell us about your media training experience.
The BBC provided training in radio journalism. I have also worked as a radio researcher and freelancer as well as presenting an Nottingham African Caribbean radio show called Back-A-Yard for many years.

How do you best prepare for an interview?
You cannot, through preparation alone, construct the perfect interview. It took me a long time to learn this! The only thing you can do is, yes be prepared but most importantly, be ‘in-the-moment’. Being able to ask questions, listen and respond to interesting answers and keep going even if – at an outside broadcast – a pigeon decides to poo on your head. This does happen! How important is representation in the media? Experience tells us that for the BME community to relate our diverse, often complex stories, in whatever form, we have to first take ownership of our stories and be prepared to challenge misrepresentation in the media.

How do you think Nottingham’s Creative Quarter could benefit the African Caribbean and BME communities?
The continuing development of the Creative Quarter in Nottingham does not ensure BME communities opportunity. For that to happen, we have to engage with it and have an organised plan to launch and to sustain our cultural narratives. We also have to make best use of new technologies, to connect with a whole new generation of digital, tech savvy audiences.

And finally, please tell us your top 5 tips for aspiring journalists and presenters.
*Learn to know who you are through life and work experiences.
*Know where to separate the subjective from the objective.
*Search for the truth in every feature.
*Know your audience and promote engagement.
*Earn money, have fun and enjoy!

If you feel inspired to work in Journalism and want to find out more contact: Reya El-Salahi at Email: . Listen to Christine Belle on the Mid Morning Show, Kemet FM or call 0115 9701 461. For journalism workshops

Story © Nottingham News Centre