Each month, IJNet features an international journalist who exemplifies the profession and has used the site to further his or her career. If you would like to be featured, email a short bio and a paragraph about how you have used IJNet here.
This month, we feature Somali-Canadian multimedia journalist and documentary filmmaker Asha Siad. Her reporting has taken her inside the homes of breast cancer survivors in Alberta, Canada, as they share stories of cultural stigmas and silence surrounding the disease in their communities. She has documented the journeys of African refugees and migrants in Italy as they seek asylum abroad.
Asha was a recipient of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News World’s Joan Donaldson Scholarship in 2013, an award that honors eight young journalists in Canada who demonstrate strong potential for producing journalism. She has contributed to CBC News, Shaw TV, Frontiere News (Italy), Hiiraan Online and The Calgary Journal. Asha recently hosted and produced a three-part documentary series for Shaw TV Calgary that follows the lives of everyday Canadians attempting to start a new beginning. Through her work, she strives to find “global and local stories that allow us to connect with the rest of the world.”
How have you used IJNet in your work?
As a young journalist, IJNet has inspired me to have an entrepreneurial mindset in an industry that is changing daily. Having the ability to take initiative and create my own opportunities in order to tell compelling stories is the route I have taken. Since it is more difficult to break into the industry the traditional way, having the skills to independently produce high quality multi-platform content is an advantage. As a multimedia journalist, I have found helpful workshops and tips on IJNet to enhance my digital storytelling skills. IJNet has always showed me that there are great opportunities in this truly rewarding craft. It has also introduced me to other journalists that share the same interests.
What do you look for in a strong journalism story?
Our readers and viewers look for stories that inform them, change or challenge the way they think. They look for stories that give them hope and the chance to examine life through a different lens. They are seeking a connection into the spaces and worlds they may not be aware of, have access to or even understand. Being able to create a connection is what makes a good story. Through documenting the realities of undocumented migrants in Europe to exploring the silences surrounding breast cancer among ethnic communities across Alberta, my goal is to expand the dialogue.
I believe the most important element of a narrative is its characters. When a journalist takes the time to immerse him or herself into the subject’s world, the outcome can prove to be a compelling story.
What advice would you give to aspiring journalists or journalism students?
Having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and share their stories is one of the biggest rewards in this field. The advice I would give to aspiring journalists would be to take initiative, create your own opportunities and be persistent. Although journalists today face a number of challenges including job security and competing on new media platforms, the opportunities to take stories to the next level are endless. Believe in the work that you do and strive to produce stories that go beyond informing.
You can follow Asha on Twitter at @ashareports.