HARD WORK, self-belief and ambition were the main message from former Central News presenter Arti Halai to the audience at the final Coventry Conversation of the current series. From her own varied career to the struggles of Local news, Arti discussed what it takes to prosper in the modern media and beyond.
Arti Halai didn’t pause for breath whilst summarising her eventful career in the media. From humble beginnings at Sunrise Radio to her move to, and early exit from BBC radio to work on Birmingham Live TV. She then went on to present the Central News morning bulletins and to eventually become a victim of the economic downturn last November, which has led to her current role, managing her media training company ‘AH Action’.
As a still thriving journalist and presenter, Arti was asked what it takes to be successful in the world of modern journalism: “If you want to make it in the media you need: hard work, focus, determination, self-belief and ambition”. She said adding “Someone once told me Arti you won’t get anywhere in the media, you have to know someone but I just wouldn’t listen”
In November 2008 Arti was made redundant by ITV due to the advertising downturn, which had initially required Arti to re-apply for her own job. When asked about being let go by Central, Arti said: “I understood that it was because of economic problems but the choice was taken away from me and my ego hurt, being made redundant isn’t nice for anyone”
Arti was ‘let go’ by Central along with dozens of other employees including popular weather girl Emma Jesson when ITV were forced to cut around 60 posts around Birmingham and Nottingham at the end of last year. The cuts within ITV are not only effecting news coverage it has also even left the cast of coronation street wondering where their next pay cheque is coming from and with further savings planned regional news could see its budgets cut by another third.
The problems at ITV are just one example of the struggles faced by local news coverage due to other competing mediums and significant staff cuts. Arti considered technology and the explosion of cable and satellite TV changing the way we consume news to be the seminal factor in the end of Local news. She said: “Central news won’t ever go back to what it was”
Since Central taught a course in the Middle East on “TV talk show presenting” Arti was questioned about certain over paid TV presenters. She felt that there is a: “real responsibility in being a presenter”, could the money invested in ‘big names’ be better spent on improving the quality of programming: “In every industry or sector some people are paid a lot more, but I object to Jonathon Ross being paid so much money because it is the license payers money”
As a seasoned TV presenter and event host, Arti was asked what you need to be a good news presenter: “You need to be a journalist at heart and be able to turn round to the producer and tell them that bits not right”. Arti stressed the importance of having a mentor to learn from and although he may not have directly influenced her, Arti admitted that as a journalist Jon Snow is the person whom she revered most.
From someone whose experienced the highs and lows of the modern media what advice would Arti give to students embarking on a career in the media during tough economic times: “Be very focused and don’t take no for an answer”
Coventry Conversations will be back in the autumn with a new line-up each and every Thursday lunchtime, including: Dan Barton, Rio Ferdinand and a lecture by the new Coventry University visiting professor Jon Snow in Coventry Cathedral.
Listen Again to “Life After TV” by Arti Halai in iTunes U