The Business Standard (TBS): You have been a news anchor for more than 20 years. Tell us a bit about how you became interested in this profession.
Nabila Rahman (NR): I think my interest in this field grew from childhood. In our family, we loved to discuss news and our mornings started with a cup of tea and a newspaper in hand. Also, my grandfather, who by profession was a civil advocate, was a news anchor at the Pakistan Radio and was involved in journalism as well. Also, both my paternal and maternal grandmothers loved to read. I guess the interest came genetically.
I used to read a lot of news and books as well. However, I never planned to read news on the radio or television.
My break came when one of my friends asked me to try out as a news anchor for Radio Metrowave. I worked there for around three years and later moved to ATN Bangla in 2001 as a news producer and anchor. ATN Bangla had just launched their news team that year and I was a part of that team. Also, while working at Metrowave, I auditioned at Bangladesh Betar as an English news anchor and worked there till 2006.
After my children were born, I left my job as a producer at ATN Bangla. However, I am still working as a news anchor for the channel and I want to thank my husband for being supportive enough.
TBS: How should someone read news?
NR: First of all, how someone should read a piece of news depends on the content. And based on that, a presenter must change his/her tonality and facial expression, as you cannot read an obituary and celebration news with the same tone. Your expressions need to be happy when you are reading a good story and sad when you are reading a piece of bad news. But do not overreact.
Secondly, your pronunciation should be top-notch. No matter what language you are reading the news in, you must know the right pronunciation of every word. I would like to recommend the book "Bangla Uccharon Ovidhan" published by Bangla academy to learn the correct pronunciation of Bangla words.
Old dramas like "Kothao Keu Nei" and "Bohubrihi" are great sources of learning pronunciation as well.
A news anchor should know about current affairs and should have general knowledge. Nowadays, we often need to talk to reporters while reading the news. If a presenter has no idea about what s/he is talking about, s/he will stumble.
TBS: What are the primary qualifications of a news anchor?
NR: A graduate of any subject and even the undergraduate students can become a news anchor.
TBS: What are the career prospects of news anchors?
NR: In the early 2000s, it was possible to take news presenting as a fulltime job because there were fewer TV channels and they used to get more ads from the agencies. However, things are different now and the competition amongst the channels has increased two-fold as we have more than 30 TV channels now.
As a result, news anchors are now usually hired on a contractual basis and I would suggest that you think of it as a part-time job rather than a full-time job.
TBS: How much can one earn by becoming a news anchor?
NR: Earlier, news anchors used to be paid a full-time salary. But now it has become a contractual job and the presenters' remuneration depends on the grade they are enlisted in. On average, a news anchor can earn between Tk2,000 to Tk5,000 per reading, depending on their grade.
TBS: What is your advice for people who want to become news anchors?
NR: First of all, people who want to join the news industry should know how to pronounce words correctly. There are many private centres that provide training on pronunciation and voice modulation. They should also have good presentation skills and the thirst to know more.