الأربعاء، 10 يوليو، 2013

Young Muslims Make Their Mark: Television Journalist Kiran Khalid

Young Muslims Make Their Mark: Television Journalist Kiran Khalid

18 December 2008
This article is excerpted from the richly illustrated book Being Muslim in America, published by the Bureau of International Information Programs. The entire book is available in PDF format.
As a child, according to her mother, Kiran Khalid used to sit inside a cardboard box facing outward — “so that I was literally in a TV, if not on it,” Khalid said. Since then, Khalid, 35, has pursued a career as a television journalist, news broadcaster, and producer that has taken her from local news reporting to covering major national and international news events.
“I was the first Pakistani-American woman in broadcast news in the United States,” she said. “If I’m wrong about that, I would love to meet the true pioneer because as far as I’ve been told, my road was untraveled.”
Growing Up in Texas
Khalid’s father was born in New Delhi, India, and her mother in Karachi, Pakistan, but Khalid herself grew up in suburban Houston, Texas, where her father was a land developer.
She focused on journalism early in life. “My interest was ignited through a love of writing,” she said. “I was often busy writing short stories growing up.”
Khalid, like her two brothers and her sister, excelled in school. The siblings’ high performance helped them overcome the strain of being the only minority family in their small community.
“It was often a situation where you simply accepted that that’s the way the world was,” she said, “and I’m grateful for those early encounters because they prepared me for the post-9/11 backlash.”
Local TV News
Khalid graduated with a major in journalism from the University of Texas in Austin, where she said she fell “for the immediacy of television, the idea of being on the air with breaking news.”
In 1996, she went to work for the local CBS station in Corpus Christi, Texas, a job that she found both exciting and frustrating. Corpus Christi provided many news opportunities — storms, drug smuggling, and immigration — but the station had antiquated equipment, which made work difficult.
“Still, I enjoyed the work, being in front of the camera,” she recalled. “I just knew I could be good at this.”
At another TV station in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Khalid found the reverse situation: state-of-the-art equipment but a relatively quiet news environment. “I worked hard and became the weekend anchor,” she said.
She also became something of a local celebrity. “Walking into the mall would be like walking on stage,” she said with a laugh. “Everybody seemed to recognize me.”
In Mobile, Alabama, Khalid was on the air as many as four or five times a day, but she found herself exhausted. “I felt I was just going in circles.” She decided to try the riskier but freer life of a freelance journalist.
Looking back, “the most gratifying aspect of local news is consumer investigative reporting,” Khalid said. “Holding shady businesses and people accountable for their actions through the glare of a television lens is a community service local news provides that is often overlooked.”
She added, “The pressures are often immense as more and more news outlets value the breaking-news model over the virtue of substantive, thoughtful reporting.”
Freelancing
In 2005, Khalid reported on the grim lives of subsistence farmers threatened by famine in Niger and Mali. Her documentary, The Hunger Gap, was a finalist in a United Nations film festival.
In the United States, Khalid worked as a field producer for a very different kind of news operation, Court TV, which covers major criminal and civil trials.
Khalid also became an active member of the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA). “I’m very proud of my role on SAJA’s board,” Khalid said. “I love working with an organization that does so much for young journalists, such as mentoring and scholarships.”
Pakistan and America
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Khalid quickly recognized that “Pakistan was going to be a central player, and I knew it was now or never to be part of the story.”
Fluent in Urdu, she traveled to Pakistan and became one of the first Western journalists to report from inside the Pakistani religious schools, or madrassahs, that many accused of encouraging terrorism.
In 2007, Khalid returned for her most dangerous assignment, to film a documentary, called We Are Not Free, on media censorship and attacks on journalists by the Musharraf government in Pakistan.
In an interview with AsiaMedia, she said, “The thing that really struck me was how brave they were ... willingly to put their safety at risk in order to pursue what they think is a noble calling.”
Since January 2008, Khalid has been working as a producer for one of television’s most popular news and feature programs, ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA).
“I like the intensity of the work,” she said, which may mean preparing a story on gas prices one day and one on the 2008 presidential campaign the next.
“GMA has afforded me the opportunity to write and produce stories that are seen by millions,” she said. “In 10 years I hope to still be working on stories that are relevant and serve a greater purpose.”

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