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Shahira Amin - Journalist & Entrepreneur

'Credibility is Everything to a Journalist and Broadcaster'

Shahira Amin is an award-winning journalist based in Cairo. Former deputy head of state-run Nile TV, she quit her job at the height of the Jan. 25, 2011, uprising to protest censorship of her work. She has since worked as a freelance writer for Index on Censorship, Freemuse, CNN and other news websites, and as a filmmaker producing documentaries for UN agencies. She has been writing for Al-Monitor since January 2016.

• How did you start?
SA: I started my career working as a program presenter on Abu Dhabi Radio.

• What were the obstacles you had to overcome?
SA: The obstacles were many. There was no Internet in those days so news gathering was much harder than it is today. I had to rely on newspapers and magazines as my sources in addition to interviews. Nowadays, new technology makes news gathering a great deal easier except, of course, for the fact that one has to be more careful inverifying the authenticity of the available material.

• Did you have a mentor or role model?
SA: Having a mentor or role model is an absolute must. My mentor was Peter Hellyer, a British journalist who taught me the tricks of the trade and who was generous with his time. I was extremely fortunate as I could turn to him for advice and guidance. If it had not been for him, I would not have gotten far, or at least, it would have taken longer for me to make progress, as I would have had to learn from the mistakes I made.

• How did you get credibility quickly?
SA: Credibility is everything to a journalist and broadcaster. Fact checking is of utmost importance. Never take anything at face value or for granted. Doubt everything you hear or read and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions. It's the only way to get the correct information. A journalist is a seeker of truths and nothing but the truth.

• What has been your biggest lesson so far?
SA: My biggest lesson is that success doesn't last nor does failure. If you fail, you simply lick your wounds and start over. If you succeed, do not let it get to your head. Build on your successes and make sure to leave your failures far behind and not let them haunt you.

• How did you test your assumptions?
SA: There is better way of testing your assumptions than through trial and error. If you have an idea, don't be afraid to express it... not just express it, but pursue it. Give it your all and try and try, try and try... you will succeed at last and it will be worth it in the end because success only comes to those who take risks and go the extra mile.

• How can we help more women reach higher positions?
SA: We can do that by reaching out and giving other women a helping hand. Training and mentoring are of vital importance. Don't be stingy with your knowledge, advice and guidance... just as you had people that helped you along the way, help others. Giving is even more rewarding than being on the receiving end.

• What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
SA: Go for it! Your idea can only be beneficial if it is out there, not if it remains an aspiration. Don't be afraid to fail and ask lots of questions, don't be afraid to take calculated risks, share knowledge with others and do your homework before you start a new venture.


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