Nurul Fariha Onn on her journey as broadcast journalist

By Azanis Shahila

“I can pronounce here that being a journalist is something that you can be proud of because as a journalist you would observe with your own eyes, experience for yourself, learn with your own mind and foremost among all, deliver in your own flair and style,” said Nurul Fariha Onn, 35.

The exact word to describe this woman is ‘extraordinary’. Her deep passion towards her career in being a broadcast journalist has finally brought her to become really professional in television broadcast.

Fariha Onn has a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies from Universiti Technologi MARA (UiTM). She started with Prime Works during her internship with the first team of Medik TV, and upon completion of her final year at UiTM, she was offered to work with the organisation.

After four seasons being a broadcast journalist with Medik TV team, she was transferred to BersamaMu programme for the first season of this show. After completing a few seasons with BersamaMu, she was switched to a documentary channel Majalah 3 until today. Now, she is one of the producers of Majalah 3, and also a host with Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI).

The experiences of being a broadcast journalist for Medik TV from 2004 until today have taught her a lot. She brings all the different experiences as a guideline for her to become a professional broadcast journalist.

Experience with ‘Medik TV’

“Firstly, I started with the Medik TV. As we know Medik TV is a pure medical programme, which is quite heavy for me as I did not have any medical educational background. My first experience of being a broadcast journalist started from this programme. During that time, the operation was called deconstruction and mastectomy (an operation for a breast cancer patient), and it was almost 13 hours being in the operation theatre,” Fariha said.

“I felt excited because I saw the operation process with my own eyes and I realised that this job cannot be done by anyone but only by somebody who is really a medical expert. However, the 13 hours’ of experiences was not really enjoying because I had to bear with the cold temperature in the operation theatre.

From that instant, I recognised that the actual life of surgeons is just like any mere human being, they listen to the music during the operation to reduce their tension and they were also calm and let loose during the performance because they wanted to trade with a human life,” Fariha added.

Besides, she also told about her experiences being with BersamaMu and Majalah 3. She said that BersamaMu is completely a different type of programme from Medik TV because it deals with poor and unfortunate people. From this, she stated that all of them face the same problem, but what makes them different is the self character.

On the first season of doing this programme, she always felt sad for the poor family because of their condition of life. However, after a few seasons dealing with the same problem but different people, psychologically she started to realise that all of these people are having a difficult life because of their own attitude. When we tried to motivate them, they would still remain the same and do not want to make an effort to change their life situation. Therefore, this programme becomes a platform for her to learn about life and to not always depend on others.

With ‘BersamaMu’

She also related that not all the cases that we saw on the programme are genuine. Nevertheless, because of the power of media whatever we experienced on television is always a sad thing about a miserable family. In fact, they are actually the ones who cause that conditions to happen to them because of their laziness and not making efforts to shift their life style.

She also said that one day when you are involved in this media industry, you have to learn how to deliver a story that would give more positive impact on the audience, therefore, whatever they see on screen would reach their heart and they would give some help to the poor family.  Thus, with the team BersamaMu, she said she had learned everything about life, the real life that makes her think about so many things, and for this she’s thankful for everything that has been given by Allah.

Totally different from BersamaMu, she said, Majalah 3 was her second university. She has learned something that she could not get in a university and also in school. “Here, I can pronounce that being a journalist is something that you can be proud of because a journalist would observe with her own eyes, experienced it for herself, learned with her own mind and the foremost one is to deliver with her own flair and style,” she added.

With these three different programmes that she had been with she had experienced different challenges and had taken all those as a motivation for her to face the real world.

With ‘Majalah 3’

She also mentioned about her most crazy and unforgettable experience when being a broadcast journalist for Majalah 3. It happened during 2010, when she was reporting on the eruptions of Mount Merapi in Indonesia. She was doing that for Majalah 3 and it was the worst eruptions that appeared to be the largest in history since 1870s. It leaned to be her most unforgettable experience when she almost died because at the spur of that moment during the reporting, there were hot ashes coming near her and all the production crew. These hot ashes were really serious that could cause us death if they affected our body because it could check our heart in sudden.

“Then, we ran for our life, and only during that time I started to remember my family and wondering what am I doing there. At that moment, I being able to do reporting as it was my last reporting before anything were to happen to us. But, Alhamdulillah, everyone was safe and thanks to the professional driver who managed to drive the car away from the ashes and saved our life. Therefore, that was the most unforgettable experience for me and it taught me a lot,” said Fariha.

The Challenges

As a normal person, there must be challenge in our lifetime. It was the same with Fariha, she had to bear with challenges throughout her career. She said what makes it difficult is because the world is changing right now. She started doing Majalah 3 in 2006, during this time she said that she could deliver all sorts of stories from any genre and types.

The rating for Majalah 3 at that time was always number one trending in Malaysia, the viewers came close to 20 million during a fourth dimension. However, she mentioned, people are getting smarter and the television channels have also increased from time to time that audiences now have more choices. Thus, people want more interesting stories as they make comparison and evaluate the stories presented to them. Therefore, she has to make sure that the stories that TV3 features would fix the audience.

Even though she had been through so many difficulties and challenges throughout being a broadcast journalist, she had this one spirit that does not allow her to easily give up. She had once considered quitting her job when she experienced a real high degree of tension, but that thinking has been rubbed out once her story got aired on television screen.

“Nevertheless, once you finished the work and you discovered your story being published or aired on screen you would experience that feeling of satisfaction. Being a journalist is actually an addictive work, after you do one story you will have a feeling to do more and more stories,” she said.

“Be Brave, Adventurous and Stubborn”

Her advice to those who are interested to be someone like her and follow her footsteps is that “if you really want to be a broadcast journalist, especially women, you have to be an individual who is brave, adventurous and stubborn.”

She said, “This is because to work as a journalist, you have to have all these attitudes and characters to deal with people. A journalist will handle works with strangers, therefore you have to put all these attitudes into yourself. Besides, if you want to have good stories, you have to learn to be brave and always put curiosity as first thing in mind. Lastly, always set the deadline as priority as a journalist. Then only you will become a very good and professional journalist.”

On the other hand, she stated that in order to be a good journalist people also have to create good attitudes and have a responsibility towards their career. Even though a person starts as a trainee, he or she should always give the very best.

“Because logically when you see yourself as a trainee you would be comfortable to make mistakes, and you won’t go anywhere with that,” Fariha added.***

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