[Interview] In conversation with the face of Mere Mutabiq – Shajia Niazi

While talking about the young, talented and hardworking individuals who joined our media industry in recent past, we just cannot exclude the name of Shajia Niazi from that list. The talented anchor, TV & Stage host and anchor have seen the growth from intern to what she is today.

A few weeks ago Team MediaSpring Pk met with this talented and humble individual, Shajia Niazi at her office – Geo News. Here is what she had to say in reply to our questions:

1 – When did you start working? How did you plan to enter this field?

Shajia Niazi: Well…I wasn’t fond of it since childhood but I knew I will do something related to journalism. I was always active in public speaking and debates when I was in school. I wasn’t exactly sure that I will become a journalist, or TV anchor for that matter, one day. It was mainly because I belong to a family where the majority of people are doctors and I have studied pre-medical in my intermediate. So it actually evolved to this point that I started doing what I do today.

2 – How did everything start? Tell us about the journey.

Shajia: I took admission in medical studies initially but later on, I realized that this is not appealing and at that time my interest was developing in media studies and I found it interesting so I switched to it.

I did my BS Honors in media studies in 2014 and started my internship in 2011.

I did my first internship at Jang Newspaper and even at that time I never thought that I will work for Geo TV Network as an anchor because I belong to a Niazi Family and none in my family has ever worked on TV so that looked impossible to me, in fact, I refused an offer of a TV Show hosting that for during that time.

One day I was casually discussing with my father that I had declined a job offer of a news anchor, he told me that I should have had done that. So that gave me confidence and I started working as an anchor with my father’s consent, it did not take long to get the new offer.

Now it has been three years that I am hosting this show initially it was twice a week as one day Sohail Warraich used to be the expert on the show.

3 – Tell us something about your academic background? How much did it helped in your career?

Shajia: As I mentioned earlier, the way I have been brought up is that I was always into debating, comparing shows, and public speaking etc. My educational background and training helped me a lot as I believe only good looks won’t give you success and it’s not like that you can progress without having any sort of knowledge of your subject matter so in that sense education has helped me a lot in keeping myself aware of situations.

I Did my B.S Honours from The University of Punjab and currently, I am doing my M.PHIL From the P.U.

4 – Was it difficult to carry on studies along with internship?

Shajia: It was not easy at all. The most exhausting part was traveling, initially, I was doing the internship with my 2 friends and they left it due to traveling but I persisted with it. I was not getting a stipend as well and plus interns you have to be proactive and seek for work, look for tasks which can add value.

Initially, I was assisting the social media and website department, their I introduced feedback section and have your say section on the editorial page as my initiative for the newspaper edition of Jang. My mentor Sohail Warraich helped me a lot in learning my work and implementing my ideas.

5- Tell us how helpful was your family?

Shajia: My family was very helpful which was unexpected to me. As I belong to a Niazi Patahan family there was no such example in our family of anyone appearing on screen. That is why it looked unrealistic to me that I will be getting any support from them and that is why I was reluctant to appear on the screen and take up the job of TV anchor. However, to my surprise by looking the way they have supported our family and my and caste it was a very bold decision. They took a big decision and it was very encouraging.

6- How does it feel hosting a show, which is very popular and does it make you feel any pressure?

Shajia: I was under pressure initially as I had to replace someone who is very crafted and talented, Mariam Memon. Moreover, there was a pressure to host a show having Hassan Nisar because of his stature and aura, he is very sweet and caring and I have had a very good experience working with him but still, it pressurizes you to keep up the good work.

7- You have a weekly show so how long does it require to prepare a show?

Shajia: Well it is like it takes a whole week, we collect the feedback and stories from the recent updates. We get that feedback through emails, social media, SMS and the old school leggers. Interestingly we get a surprising amount of feedback from India, sometimes it is like 60% of the total. Based on that feedback and the important stores of the week we hold meetings on Friday and Saturday about the stories need to be covered and then on Sunday final content is written and recorded.

8- How easy or difficult to work with professionals like Mr. Hassan Nisar?

Shajia: It’s not easy seriously as he is very blunt and difficult to predict but he is a very nice person one need to get used to him. Since he is from Faisalabad, his sense of humor is evidence of it.

9- Which Mere Mutabiq show was most difficult for you?

Shajia: The second show of Mere Mutabiq I hosted was with Hassan Nisar and I feel that to date that was the most difficult one, as I am little nervous.

10- Any memorable moment from your career so far any project you enjoyed a lot while working on it?

Shajia: Working on election cell and election transmission was something really exciting and learning experience. I really enjoyed it as it really kept us on our toes and collecting information was a whole experience and story in itself.

11- Besides hosting Mere Mutabiq, what else do you do?

Shajia: I work with different NGOs. I am pretty interested in doing the social work, in fact, I am doing this since my university days. I am not associated with any one particular NGO at the moment but whenever there is an opportunity to do something worthwhile I make sure to take part in it.

12- You are a TV host now and you do social work also, do you think that being a TV host helped you in your social work also?

Shajia: It actually helped a lot because people listen to you when you are a celebrity or a known face. It is the ice breaking factor.

13- When did you realized that you have become famous?

Shajia: Earlier those who know me used to say that I look different on screen as compared to how I look in real life. Perhaps that was one reason that people, in early days, did not recognize me, interestingly, at times I used to get recognition from people after they hear my name – Shajia Niazi – somehow the name was more popular than me.

After almost year and a half, I would say people started to recognize me easily. I believe that social media has played a great role, perhaps because I put up pictures there which are not just from my show but also from the life out of Mere Mutabiq Studio. Now people recognize me but I still get the same comment – that I look very different in real life as compared to the screen.

14- How do you see social media as an effective tool and how we can use it in the best way?

Shajia: I would say it’s a wrong weapon!

The next age is going to be dominated by the social media as conventional media is lagging in this race. Social Media is a powerful tool but unfortunately, we in Pakistan might have lost the plot and now the negative use is somehow outnumbering the positive use of social media.

Through social media, we could have brought a worthwhile change.

Social media has politicised masses and here I would say one must give credit to Mr. Imran Khan and PTI as they successfully politicised the social media masses and brought in political discussion to a very frequent level. But as a whole, I feel we have not availed the best of this tool. It is not too late, I would say, we can start to correct ourselves and for a starter let us ensure the credibility of a post shared on social media.

15 – How you or other media personalities being a media professional can play role in improving the state of social media use among Pakistanis?

Shajia: We must educate the users that if they have the power of social media then they must also know that it comes with a responsibility – a responsibility to be honest and credible about what they post. Let’s take the example of conventional media we are bound to be sure about the news we are broadcasting on our mediums on the other hand on social media we let go any post any news on our feed without even verifying it. A social media user must understand that he has to play the role of conventional editor also for the news or the post he is sharing to ensure the credibility, and in the long run the credibility on social media we build through a responsible use will matter more than a few likes we yield today.

16 – What inspires you?

Shajia: Well… I am very optimistic. I am inspired by very small things. For example, if I see someone helpless sitting at Data Darbar but still manages to smile, that inspires me because it gives me a feeling that he/she still has the element of life in them. If I see a child running laughing and have eyes full of life that really inspires me regardless of the fact that he has a proper footwear or not, but that kid has a life. that inspires me.

17 – Define yourself in three words?

Shajia: Optimistic, optimistic and optimistic. Because I believe in optimism and try to look at the brighter side and never lose hope.

18 – We have seen examples of some news media personalities branching out to the showbiz. Did you get any offer from showbiz?

Shajia: Yes. I got modeling offers but I did not pursue it as I am not interested in it. I think, what I am doing is best and I would like to excel in this field.

19 – Is there any future plan of Ms. Niazi?

Shajia:  My future plan is to keep working as a broadcast journalist and TV Host, and grow in this industry. Moreover, I have interest in dress designing so maybe I’ll launch my own fashion brand.

20- Will you have any advice for the newcomers?

Shajia: I must advise them to never look for a shortcut there is no alternative to the hard work. a shortcut. They must have passion, hardworking nature and most importantly they should have the sense of being consistent and productive.

21 – How supportive is the atmosphere of Jang vs Geo for females?

Shajia: When you compared the two the genre is different all together one is print and the other one is electronic media. Having said that the atmosphere is very friendly and supportive towards the female workers. I have never felt any issue here such as we get to hear at other media organizations. At this institute, there are proper societies and protocols set to ensure the safety of female workers at the workplace.

22 – Any message for the media spring team & readers?

Shajia: For team MediaSpring PK I would say that you guys are awesome, keep updating and promoting us just the way you guys do.

And for the readers my message is:

News Reporter

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