With myriads of channels on air, electronic media continues to be a hot favorite amongst those who like to face the camera. The profession of a Correspondent or TV Reporter is seen as a glamorous and exciting career for those interested in the medium. We speak with Liza Roy, one of the leading Correspondents with the Zee group of channels, who gives us an inside out account of the profession.
How does one get into this profession? Are there any essential qualifications?
To get into any form of media, especially electronic or print, you need to be qualified in mass communication and journalism at a graduate level. You could pursue masters and other specialised courses post your primary degree. These courses are available at most leading national and international universities.
What is the primary role of a correspondent?
A correspondent is essentially responsible for finding out newsworthy incidents or happenings in her given area and then creating an interesting or compelling story of the incident.
How does a correspondent work on a day-to-day?
When I started my career with a media giant in Kolkata, I was assigned a geographical area. I had to slowly build my network of information sources over a period of time and maintain good relations with those people so I could get news about an incident or occurrence as close to real time. When I moved from Kolkata to Mumbai to work for Zee, I had to start all over again. Given that I had a larger area, I had to smartly ensure that my team and I cultivate the right information network. You have to have your ears and feet on the ground, always!
Who should get into this kind of a profession?
First, you should be articulate in the language of the channel and be able to present news or stories in an interesting manner. You should also have the confidence to speak in public. You need to very passionate about media. It is a 24 by 7 job and doesn’t have fixed hours. You could be on your way home after a story and then suddenly you might get a call about another coverage you need to do on a breaking story. So you have to be ready to roll anytime of the day and night. When I was covering the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, I was reporting for more than 72 hours at a stretch.
Many people tend to perceive this as a glamorous profession. Well, there is of course the element of glamour and entertainment in a job like this. You get to meet and interview celebrities and top notch entertainment professionals. Also because you are on TV screens reporting news, a lot of people recognise you. Recognition means a lot to many people. But all stories are not about entertainment. Crime, unpleasant incidents, natural catastrophes like floods, earthquakes also make for news. So one has to be open to covering all segments as a correspondent. Over time, you might find your niche’ but for many years till then, it is going to be broader coverage.
What is your advice to budding women professionals in this field?
Over the years, I have seen many women entering this field. But few stay on. While unpredictable hours of work are a key reason which impact women with small children, many women are also unable to take the stress of being alert 24 by 7. So if you love the adrenalin rush of a story, want to give your viewers newsworthy bytes and don’t mind the erratic schedules, only then should you choose this line of work.
Any learning tips for professionals? You need to have a nose for news. Don’t miss reading newspapers and digital media reports on a daily basis. There is a lot of preparation work required for a story. You also need to be a great teamplayer because you work with your crew to report any news. Every story is different and new. If you like doing new things everyday, this is the profession for you.