FOCUS WITH FAEZA DAWOOD
Faeza Dawood is a broadcast journalist with a decade of experience covering news, making documentaries and anchoring at prominent Pakistani news channels. She also likes sharing her work experience as guest lecturer. Her twitter handle is @Faezadawood
“Amazing stories emerged as the nation united to help our Kashmiri brethren”
Live: Did you always want to become a Journalist? Tell us about your childhood, education and goals?
Faeza: I was born and brought up in Dubai and have beautiful memories of my childhood. Growing up in UAE’s culturally diverse environment, we learnt so much. My parents gave us a strong upbringing with Islamic values. We travelled the world but part of our summer holidays was always spent in Pakistan. It inculcated in us a deep love for our country. They would share stories of Quaid-e-Azam and Pakistan’s Independence with us. My father is an Architect and my mother has done medicine- both are amazing human beings who encouraged me at every step.
As a child, I wanted to be an Astronaut. Later on, an Artist and a Doctor. I was inspired by Mother Teresa’s selfless work. I was an A-Grade student and an all-rounder. I enjoyed public speaking, esp. Debates (English/Urdu) and Elocutions. My parents trained me and my teachers encouraged me. As the Editor of School, College & University magazines, I discovered my passion for writing.
I saw my parents discuss Politics and watched News with them – CNN, BBC and PTV.
Ms. Shaista Zaid used to read PTV’s English News Bulletin. I was so impressed that I sat in front of the TV and emulated her daily. As a kid, I remember telling my father that one day you will see me on this TV, reading News and reporting. And my father smiled encouragingly. I didn’t know Allah would make my dream come true
Live: You are one of the trendsetters and pioneers in Pakistan’s News media. How did you join TV?
Faeza: I am a Gold Medalist in M.A-Mass Communication. My specialization is Broadcast Journalism with Professional Training from International News Agencies- in Japan and UAE. As a pre-requisite for post-graduation, I wrote for Newspapers & did PTV shows whilst at University. During my Masters, the unfortunate 9/11 incident happened. News flow from the Western world post-9/11 convinced me to take-up Journalism. I realized the need to counter negative propaganda.
On completion of my Master’s Thesis, I auditioned at PTV News Studios Islamabad. After a series of interviews, I was selected and my career as a Broadcast Journalist began. At PTV News, I explored various aspects of this field. Being the ‘Youngest and Only’ female Reporter at Islamabad Bureau was an honor. I trained hard to present “Live” English and Urdu News Bulletins, eventually Anchoring Current Affairs shows on ‘Iraq Attack’.
Live: In 2002, you were part of the first “Live News Reporting” from Pakistan’s Parliament. How was the experience?
Faeza: During Pakistan Elections 2002, PTV News ‘Reported Live’ from the parliament for the first time. I am honored to be part of that team. After initial glitches, our News beepers aired smoothly from the Press Gallery. It was an amazing experience with a brilliant News Team -including Kashif Abbasi and Mr. Talat Hussain (then Director News, PTV). Field Reporting is the essence of Journalism. And I always find it fulfilling. It puts you in touch with News- as it happens! That’s exhilarating.
Live: In 2005 you Reported on the AJK Earthquake. What challenges did you face?
Faeza: It was a devastating time for our people in AJK. We initiated a LIVE Transmission from ARY’s Dubai Studios. Soon after, it was replicated by Geo and PTV. Coverage of post-Earthquake AJK was emotionally challenging. Everywhere we went- buildings and houses were destroyed. It was like a different planet, with concrete boulders and rubble everywhere. Most heart-breaking was visiting collapsed schools, with thousands of students buried under the rubble. Amazing stories emerged as the nation united to help our Kashmiri brethren.
Live: Being a pioneer female News/Current Affairs Anchor on private media, how did you cope with public attention?
Faeza: As one of the pioneer Broadcast Journalists on a premier (pvt.) channel, challenges were expected. Independent TV News was carving its place in society. Television is a strong medium, so our work was always under the microscope. I got Awards for hard work, but my biggest reward remains my followers’ Respect. In any interaction with them, it is imperative to keep the grace. At work, seasoned journalists have mentored me. And at home, my parents gave me immense confidence. They emphasize on humility and keep me grounded. My focus is ‘honesty to viewers’. Audiences appreciate that.
Live: With so many News channels now, has it contributed to the growth of the Media industry?
Faeza: Growth of any new medium has ups and downs. ARY and GEO were the only two (pvt.) News channels in 2003.
Mushroom growth started a few years later. Positives of this growth are that Media industry has healthy competition. New faces are introduced. Public has a wider choice of News channels. Negatives are that in the ‘Race to the Top’, quality suffers. Channels prioritize breaking ‘First’ over Reporting ‘Facts.’ Content copycats don’t bring fresh ideas. And Marketing teams dictate most ‘content’ (acc.to ratings). Marketing strategy is crucial for a News channel, but Editorial Team should be able to Veto them where necessary. Otherwise, content suffers in the long run.
Another big negative right now is that many faces on TV have poor knowledge of ‘Journalism’. They have not studied IR, Pol.Science or spent time in the field. This compromises Quality of Journalism.
Live: Would you advise students to take up Journalism?
Faeza: Of course. I never regret being a Broadcast Journalist. It’s a passion for me. In this era of Social Media and Fake News, Pakistan and our world need good journalists more than ever. We require Professionals who step into the field with ‘proper training.’ They need conviction and strong values to fight temptations and do honest work.
It is worrying for me to see the negative image of News media in Pakistan right now. But I am an optimist and firmly believe that ‘Good’ journalists can still salvage this situation.
Live: You have worked extensively in the Field and News Studios. What do you enjoy more?
Faeza: As a Reporter in the field, I feel most alive. There is no feeling like being amongst people and sensing their pulse on issues. One should be tough to handle different ground situations. Second to that is Anchoring Current Affairs shows. Connecting ‘LIVE’ with viewers gets the adrenaline going.
Live: Share with us any interesting incidents from your career?
Faeza: A unique experience was conducting the Exclusive “Jaamiya Hafsa” interview with the women inside the building. There are stories from Lawyer’s Movement & London APC too.
Once my News Editor called me for an ‘urgent’ political assignment. As V.P Programming, I had paused doing shows. But the News Editor insisted I cover the high-profile meet. It was Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto’s first meeting (in a long time), since exile. It took place at Ishaq Dar’s Dubai residence. Only close aides and a handful of the press was present. Watching their interaction closely was an experience I will write about in my book.
Recently, when I was interviewing Imran Khan, his pet dog just walked into the frame during our interview. Imran Khan signaled it to sit next to him and we continued uninterrupted. I kept this part unedited in the interview. It can be seen on my YouTube channel.
“When I was interviewing Imran Khan, his pet dog just walked into the frame during our interview”
Live: When do we get to see you on TV screens? Tell us about your website and YouTube channel?
Faeza: I launched my Current Affairs website: www.focuswithfaeza.com in 2016. Alhamdulillah, it was a trendsetting move. My YouTube channel, “Focus with Faeza” features latest interviews and analysis. As an Independent Broadcast Journalist, my website & YouTube channel are great platforms. It is uncharted territory for Journalists who are producing work ‘Only’ for Social Media. But I enjoy challenges. Partnering with the right channel is a future option. However, SM is the inevitable future, with TV becoming obsolete over time. Alhamdulillah, I have always been a trendsetter in my career. And will continue producing quality content for my viewers. There are no shortcuts in life. And it’s my firm belief that Allah always helps the honest and persistent.