News Maker

Riz Khan, a recognised face worldwide, who had extensive careers with the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera English shares his thoughts on his profession, the high point of his career and the Oman Debate 2014 in an interview with Oommen John P .

Renowned international journalist and television personality Riz Khan was in Muscat recently to anchor Oman Debate, the fifth edition of the annual national forum organised by the Oman Economic Review (OER) in association with Capital Market Authority (CMA).

In a brief tete-a-tete with OER, Riz, who hosted flagship news and current affairs shows at the world’s three major global news networks: BBC World, CNN International and Al Jazeera English, shares his thoughts on his profession and et al.

On the high point of his career

Well, the high point of my career is getting hired and then leaving. However, I must say that I was privileged to work in international news almost from the beginning. My journalistic career took off when I accepted a two-year BBC news trainee programme in 1987, which later paved the way to work as a presenter/anchor and reporter at the BBC. When the BBC world service was launched in November 1991, I co-presented its very first show. It was an enriching experience as I was the network’s first South Asian mainstream news presenter. CNN recruited me in 1993. A year later, the CNN launched its own, fully-fledged international channel. It was an exciting experience in CNN as I was the senior anchor for the network’s global news shows. After leaving CNN in 2001, I was involved in a few projects such as covering Hajj for a couple of channels, which was a good way to create a new perspective on the Arab world. Thereafter, I had the opportunity to do a documentary on Saudi royal prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, which paved the way for the launch of my book, Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince, which became a long-running bestseller in the Middle East.

In 2005, I was head-hunted by the Al Jazeera network to set-up its English-language channel and to host its flagship program, Riz Khan — a daily, live, interactive, topical show featuring the world’s top newsmakers and covering global issues. I gained immense recognition for the flagship programme.

Right through my career, I focused a lot on interviews. And I am so lucky to have interviewed a galaxy of personalities from my favourite musicians to world leading figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and so on.

Advice to aspiring journalists…

Youngsters taking up journalism should be true to their self. Each one should learn skills that best suits their personality. Some are naturally good talkers and some producers. One shouldn’t always be desperate to be in front of the camera because a whole team is involved in the process. My advice to budding journalists is to think of journalism as a team business.

Journalism is witnessing a change now. The social media has changed the dynamics of journalism completely. Now everyone can be a journalist with an iPhone and Smart phone. It’s a very rapidly changing world. And it’s much faster than I experienced. Journalists should evolve and keep pace with the times.

And finally the ICV debate.

ICV was an interesting topic. I personally feel we covered a lot of ground. The ICV concept needs to change to nation building. Each sector has to make a serious analysis and make tailor-made solutions rather than simply try to import from somewhere else. The oil and gas sector ICV policy should be replicated in other sectors of the Oman economy as well.


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