Ramsha Kanwal is an example as she started her journey as an intern and in matter of few years she is now known as face of a national channel, from field reporting, to outdoor segments, from interactive to cricket show, from election transmission to Ramazan transmission from Eid transmission to entertainment and lifestyle news reporting she has done it all. Ramsha started her career from Geo News as an intern reporter. She later had a short stint at Dawn News as reporter and anchor in 2011. In 2012, she joined Samaa as a reported and later she beacme part of the news cast team. In late 2013, Ramsha joined Aaj News and spent nearly two years with the channel before moving to Lahore to join Channel 24.
Recently team MediaSpring PK had an interactive meeting with the face of channel 24 herself – Ramsha Kanwal, here is what she had to say in response to our questions.
1. Were you always attracted to journalism and media and when did you realize that a career as a media person was for you?
Ramsha: I never thought to opt this industry. It was all sudden; I changed my field from biology to media. There was a time when I was very passionate about becoming a doctor. However, then I had to change my field as I couldn’t make to the med school that I wanted to and I had no interest in becoming a teacher after completing my Bachelors of Sciences, then I applied in Karachi University and I had five options to choose from. The Mass Communication was the top option – I was a debtor so I thought it was closer to my interest and I got admission in it in the very first list and during the studies, I realized that this was the field for me. The other options at that time I had for my studies were philosophy, psychology, and economics.
2. Tell us something about your educational background, and to what extent do you think your education and your academic degree has helped you in your career?
Ramsha: I believe that without education and training you are nothing, until and unless you are an extraordinary talent. I think that had I not taken the degree in Mass Communication it’s highly likely that I could not make to this industry in the first place let alone achieving success in it. When I started my career as an intern at Geo News, my selection was based on my studies – that was a big break for me and credit goes to the education and studies for creating an opportunity for me.
3. Tell us something about your family, which city are you from, how many family members are there in your family, how supportive your family is about your career and work. And how much do you think family support is important?
Ramsha: I am Karachiite. After my parents, I have an elder brother and we are three sisters. Both my sisters are married now and my brother is settled in Malaysia. As far as family support is concerned, I would say that it is because of support from my family that I am living in Lahore away from them. My family supported and motivated me to be confident enough to live in a city that is far from hometown. I am a very goal oriented person, someone who has ambitions and career goals, and my family has fully supported me in every way without the support of my parents and their faith I could not achieve any of it.
4. What part of your work you find the most challenging and which one you enjoyed the most?
Ramsha: I enjoy doing outdoors since I am an interactive person – studio has its own charisma but I like outdoor more – outdoor has always been a very fascinating and learning experience for me. I believe that only reading news is not my job, doing something extra is. Moreover, outdoor & interactives are my forte that I find myself truly fit in.
5. In Pakistan mostly there is an issue of not treating male professionals and female professionals equally. i.e. in past a PTV news caster was not allowed to read a sad news since being a woman she would be unable to hold emotions, does that mind set of 1970s and 1980s still exist in our media?
Ramsha: Let me tell you a very interesting account. If you know recently a law has been passed about the transgender community that It has been granted right to get married. For such news update, we need to take beepers from clergy as well and it becomes a bit challenging for a female news anchor to carry out. But I must compliment my co-anchor who completed the task with confidence she asked all the right questions with all the relevant terminologies and did it all with grace because it was her duty. Sometimes, many of things are disconcerting for us off the camera but on the camera, it is our job to present the news and take expert opinion during the broadcast where needed.
I do not think that male or female news anchors have any sort of edges over each other in general; But yes there is a slight edge of being beautiful and having a presentable face, for both male and female news anchors, but even then it won’t last long unless there is a skill to compliment it.
6. Who is your source of inspiration?
Ramsha: My father! he is MashAllah a self-made person, which is something I admire a lot. The personality of Hakeem Saeed has inspired me a lot, as a child I used to attend Nonehal Assembly, he was a very affectionate and kind soul. I feel that if I am down to earth today it is all because of my parents’ upbringing and because of Hakeem Saeed’s training. There is a thing that I do not get inspired or impressed easily.
7. Sometimes listening to a bad news devastates our day, I am sure reading a bad news must have an effect on a news anchor too how do you coup up with that?
Ramsha: There was a time when I was a field reporter; I have seen things from mutilated and burnt dead bodies to live gunshots. That was the beginning of my career and most of the times I used to get so upset that even having a meal seemed to be a difficult thing to do. With time gradually I started feeling that it is part of my daily life now, yes I still get upset but now I am trained enough to coup up with that. And it is not easy I tell you, for instance, the APS attack was the most difficult news for me to read I was crying and yet trying not to show it.
8. You hosted a show about cricket how was the experience?
Ramsha: It was a lovely experience. I never expected that I will get such a huge response and that is something made it comelier. Cricket and sports were never my genres but I am thankful to my producers Sohail Zaidi and Ali Kazmi who had faith in me and gave me a chance. I researched for it, worked hard for it and the result was amazing.
My panel was very interesting and we developed a very good chemistry we all enjoyed it. There were moments when we all used to get sad because team Pakistan did not do well and had to depart from World T20 right after the first round.
I have to add that when we did a special show during Pakistan vs India match with an Indian news channel it was a wonderful experience. As I said I love interacting, therefore it was a completely new experience for me, as I never did any transmission with Indian media before that. The feedback was remarkable and it was the moment to feel accomplished. Interestingly there was a huge and positive response from the Indian cricket fans on my twitter and facebook page. I felt proud that the transmission I started with zero experience of cricket shows has gained viewership in not only in Pakistan but also in India and Bangladesh. In fact, the production head of Indian channel also contacted me and congratulated me upon the success of the transmission.
9. How important do you think a healthy rivalry is among the fellow news anchors, do you think anyone as your rival (healthy/professional rival of course)?
Ramsha: Healthy is the keyword here. It is good if it is healthy, otherwise things can get worst. I do not believe in rivalry if I am good enough with my work and doing it with all honestly then I do not need to be afraid of anything including rivalries.
10. Keeping others update about what is going on around the world is a hectic job, what is your favorite off time activity?
Ramsha: I prefer spending that time with friends and family. I go out for dinners, and movies. I love to travel a lot and I try to explore and travel whenever I get a chance to do so.
11. Do you like reading books, if yes then what type of books? Also how much do you think study and personal research is important for a news anchor?
Ramsha: Reading and personal research for an anchor are as important as oxygen. Going through rundown and reading what is appearing on the prompter is not news anchoring, yes it can be news reading but news anchoring demands a lot of research and reading unless you don’t know the history of a news you cannot present it in its true sense.
I like reading books but nonfiction books only I just can not stomach fiction and philosophy.
12. We have seen a couple of examples from Pakistani news media that some news anchors shifted to modeling and acting do you have any such plans or have you ever got any acting or modeling offer?
Ramsha: Yes I did get offers for acting and modeling. When I was in Samaa I used to do fashion & lifestyle news reporting at that time I interacted many people from the entertainment and showbiz field. During that time, I got several offers for modeling and couple of drama offers. However, I was not interested in it back then and even now, I get offers from showbiz but it never fascinated me. I feel it is not my cup of tea, I am meant to be in the field in which I am working today and I belong here.
13. Define your personality in three words
Ramsha: Casual. hardworking, and learner.
14. How did the experience of hosting Ramzan transmission come along?
Ramsha: It was very difficult in the beginning, during the first week I had no clue what was going on. The show demanded a different approach from my end since I am not an actor so I cannot simply shift and adjust in a new role. After a week, I learned and gained a lot of confidence and the feedback played a major role in it. As our transmission was very serious and subtle, therefore, the response was very positive and mainly from the learned and serious circles. That indeed boosted the confidence.
I must say, When I heard that I was to host the Ramazan Transmission, I discussed it with my friends and family the first impression was that it will be just another ‘auction house’ like the transmission. It was indeed a relief to eventually know that the format is totally content based and serious discussion oriented.
15. With the arrival and rise of social media among the Pakistani internet users, how much do you think it has changed us in terms of being aware and is social media helping you in your profession if yes then in what way ?
Ramsha: It has a change of 360 degrees. You can get feedback in just a few seconds, which is simply magnificent. Even media persons are using social media for their research insight knowledge and collecting feedback.
I think it is about the use, yes – social media I creative and destructive at the same time. However, I feel that for past two years it is slowly getting back on the creative track in Pakistan.
16. Any tip of message you would like to give to the people who want to join news media as journalist or news anchor?
Ramsha: Being lived that life myself I know that it was not a pleasant thing to hear the instructors in universities asking us to stay updated end read teh newspaper every day. Now when I am in the field for past five years I realize that they were right, reading and keeping oneself is important. Therefore, this is my tip for the students and people who want to join media.
In addition, they must understand that it is a very demanding job, most of the times there is no set pattern of waking up and going to sleep, spending time with a family becomes a rare opportunity even on Eid days you can be on call of duty. Therefore, it is something to be kept in mind. If you are entering this field, come with a positive mindset and ready to learn attitude.
17. Tough “Selfies” have taken over the autograph, but have you ever asked for an autograph how did it feel when you gave your first autograph as news anchor/media personality?
Ramsha: Many times I have given an autograph. I feel selfies and autographs are just another way of showing admiration. At times selfies becoming a bit too much for instance at an event we ended up taking selfies only. Then I feel that it is adoration and approbation of people so it is okay.
18. Most memorable news that you ever read as a news anchor, and any news that you regretted to read on a news bulletin?
Ramsha: Recently I did really enjoy reading the news about Pakistan’s win at the Lord’s cricket ground and the way team celebrated it with push-ups. I was on stand-by and planning to leave for home right after doing the headlines I was tired and then this news came and when I saw the celebrations it outdid all my weariness.
19. What are future plans of ‘Ramsha Kanwal’?
Ramsha: I don’t like to discuss my plans as I don’t like them to be public. However, yes I have good plans for myself for my field.
20. How did Lahore treat you?
Ramsha: Lahore has been a great host. I did hear a few things about the city and people before coming here but I had no problem at all and it’s been almost a year I am living here. I have worked at Channel 24 since I am in the city and it is like my second home, the workspace, people everyone has been very kind and welcoming. Another reason for falling in love with this city is that it has greenery and nature attracts me a lot.
21. Any message for your fans?
Ramsha: Remember me in your prayers, do follow my shows in future too and keep giving your feedback.