This interview I took when I was working in Geo TV in 2012. This interview was posted on Geovision website. I am sharing some chunks of the interview over here for my readers.
“Each day in the world of news makes you a strong person,” says chirpy, quick-witted Beenish Saleem.
Since she used to come in the night time bulletins, it’s save to say that she was the nocturnal face of Geo News. She is co-operative, humble and knows her work very well. Beenish started her career as a sports reporter from Lahore but before she realized, her luck played wonders with her and she became a news-anchor.
Geo Vision brings you up-close to Beenish Saleem whose outspoken and casual nature defines her true self.
Madiha Akhtar: Why you choose to be a news-anchor?
Beenish Saleem: Well, it was by chance. I was into reporting before and maybe because I used to speak well, therefore I landed into this profession. But I would still say that it was just a mere coincidence. However, people watch you on television and gradually you earned face-value by becoming a house-hold name.
MA: How did you enter the field of news anchoring?
BS: I graduated in Journalism studies from Beacon National University Lahore and joined the field as a sports reporter. It was my previous channel that gave me an opportunity to divert my career into news-anchoring. Later I become a part of Geo News as a full-fledged newscaster from July 2009.
MA: According to you, three qualities that are needed to become a successful news anchor?
BS: For me, firstly one needs to be well-versed; one should also look presentable and finally to be extra alert as even a second’s distraction can cost more than you can imagine.
MA: Do you think that looks are given more importance than knowledge for being an anchor?
BS: Unfortunately, it’s a dilemma that our newscasters are mostly looked as newsreaders, our news audiences are wide and they cannot be fooled. It’s true that presentation matters but it’s not the only criteria to rely on. Change is inevitable nevertheless, but at the same time I want to add that we (news anchors) are the people who register the reporter to the minds of the people. In fact we are also the ones to bring story to the public.
MA: Who is your inspiration in anchoring?
BS: Barkha Dutt and Poonam Sharma from India; they are my inspiration only because I can relate to them as they have also started their career with reporting. They had to face more or less same struggle as any Pakistani female journalist has to go through.
MA: Give one positive and negative point of being a news anchor?
BS: To be precise; you earn screen value as people recognize you which is the brighter side of being an anchor. But this is also one of the downsides because people relate to you and if any news disturbs anyone, so the news-anchors are blamed and ultimately they have to bear the brunt of the viewers’ revulsion.
MA: While doing live bulletins, did you face any mishap?
BS: Yes, once a housefly entered the news studio and alas! In the entire place, she found my nose to sit on! I was giving my OC (on-camera) that time and therefore I had to be static for around 30-40 seconds. I cannot even remove the fly from my nose (sigh). It was an awkward moment for me because it came out very bad in front of camera.
MA: Your most memorable moment while doing news bulletin?
BS: (Thinking hard) for now, there is none I think it is still to come.
MA: Any news that made you speechless or gave goose bumps? How did you recover yourself?
BS: There are many issues including the assassination of Salman Taseer, and even Malala issue that grabbed the attention of International community; these were some news that really gave me goose bumps. However, it was the death of veteran actor Jamil Fakhri which really made me speechless and I started weeping but then with the help of my control room, I collected and composed myself soon.
MA: What has been your favourite news that made your day?
BS: Shoaib-Sania wedding ceremony, an interesting story as the bride was from our neighboring country and it was nice to be part of something like this. Furthermore, the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a treat to watch. Even though these kinds of news are not implied to journalistic ethics but they spread happiness.
MA: Among noted personalities in news channels, who is your favourite one?
BS: Najam Sethi, he is not bias, his views are balanced and he presents an informative program.
MA: In present lot of politicians, who do you think is the rational one?
BS: Former President Asif Zardari… I reckoned him as a true politician who knows what he is doing.
MA: Other than you, who has been your favourite anchor in Geo TV?
BS: There are two anchors that are my favourites, first is of course Danish Anis Sheikh. He is one such anchor who has the potential to do everything. He is basically a character anchor (she grins widely). The other one is Muhammad Junaid, who is also very good at his job.
MA: Are you a planner? Do you have any goals?
BS: I have to learn a lot because learning is a life-long process for me. It’s just the beginning and more work needs to be accomplished. My aim is to make my own individuality, simply to stand out from the crowd.
MA: How was your experience working with Geo?
BS: Overall, it’s been a rocky and bumpy road, but a great journey so far.
MA: To the readers, what you want to say?
BS: Stop being judgmental please! There is some heart-wrecking news which also sends shivers down to our spine as well. Don’t judge us from outside because at the end of the day we are also ordinary people who are just doing our jobs.