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Arunima Maharshi

IWB Blogger

Anchor Shweta Jha On 24×7 News Channels, Live Bulletins, And Changing Priorities After Becoming A Mom

  • IWB Post
  •  May 3, 2018

Fourteen years ago, Shweta moved from Jamshedpur to Delhi to find her feet in the world of journalism. With big dreams and little to no idea of what destiny had in store, she stepped in the capital rooting her confidence in self-conviction.

An English Literature graduate, Shweta took on her father’s interest and academic background in the subject, and that paved for her the way forward to becoming a renowned TV Anchor.

In 2004, she began her career with Sahara Samay as an Assistant Producer before making a switch to India TV in 2008. Six years with the channel as Senior Producer and Anchor, her next feat was being appointed by India Today group as an Associate Executive Producer and anchor, and she is working with Aaj Tak in the same position from the last four years.

When I phoned Shweta, she was with her two-and-a-half-year-old son, but our conversation saw no delay. A working mom, she unknowingly opened a window to her “work-life balance” efforts for me there! Excerpts below:

Shweta Jha

Let’s begin with talking about your typical day at work?

My day starts at five in the morning and after a quick run through the routine chores, I am in the car to leave for office as my shift starts at six. I absolutely love my all-by-myself morning drive. On reaching the office, it’s the regular drill of dress selection followed by makeup, but while at it I am also watching the news to see overnight updates. And then from six to three, anchoring back to back alongside voiceovers and news chunks for our social media team, with short breaks in between, of course. 

Tell me about your experience of reporting live from the newsroom. It seemed rather fascinating as an audience in the beginning!  

Ah, yeah. So of the two formats of news presentation, newsroom and studio, I have 2-3 slots of the former, first one from 7:30 – 8:00 am. Our newsroom is on the second floor and studio on the first, so in the morning hours when people are settling in etc., you can often see teacups passing in the backdrop, and so many times they don’t realize that we have gone live and there would come a voice – “Shweta Ji, will you also take tea?” she laughed.

Shweta Jha

Ha-ha. Share some fun behind the scenes secrets, too!

Ha-ha. While on camera, we use an earpiece through which we receive the standby (be ready) and cue (on air now) signals, and it works as such that on our response, the technical team proceeds. This one time I hadn’t slept properly in the night but as usual had a morning shift, and so while waiting, I sat on the studio chair and bent my head a little to rest, not realizing that my earpiece slipped off. The technical team sent the two respective signals and they assumed that I must have listened, and here we went live and there I yawned. Laughing. It was so embarrassing and for once created panic, too, since everyone saw it on the monitors. But I carried on and it was okay, such things do happen – to err is human.

All the more when you’re in a really demanding job. Have you ever had to deal with issues typical to our patriarchal society?

It is and there do come such situations, but my husband is very supportive, and being from the same field, he understands the nature of my job very well. And if there is ever a situation where a third person needs to be made to understand, he’s always there acting as a bridge. But now we have a child, so where I earlier could give 12-14 hours to my work and go on 3-4 days’ shoot also, the priorities have seen a slight shift.

At Work….

623 Likes, 41 Comments – Shweta Jha (@shweta_aajtak) on Instagram: “At Work….”

How are you striking a balance now? 

My son is very young, and so I can’t manage everything the way I was earlier. And for my husband also, I mean the understanding remains intact but he, too, is playing two roles now, and we’re yet in the process of smoothing out our mutual priority conflicts, but that’s a part of life. Because of the duty hours, sometimes I am not able to contribute as much to the home and family needs, but often miss out on the outdoor shoot chances as well. So it will take some time, but these things will always be running parallel. 

True that. How does the little one react on seeing his mum on the TV? 

Oh, he gets very excited. He’d be like, “Oh wow mumma, daida look”, she laughed. Oh and wow are his pet words. He doesn’t understand why I am on screen but gets very happy.

Shweta Jha

On that note, let’s switch to your experience as a TV Anchor. Tell me your views on the notion that to serve news 24×7, news channels could be compromising with the content.

There are a lot of factors that go into deciding the news that runs all day long. We have to keep in mind that it should be in public interest, and the impact of how it will be shown. Then which news piece to show during prime time, and which reporter will do which bulletin – as I said there are many things. And to fill in 24 hours, we have to have as many news pieces. But if we stress on content, and specifically on things that often receive criticism, I must share that those shows get very high TRP, proving that there are people who watch them. We have to keep in consideration the mindset and requirements of the varied audience.

Have you ever faced sexism?

I haven’t had any such experience. If someone says anything behind my back, I don’t bother myself with it, but if someone has ever prompted directly, I have given back an appropriate answer. It is definitely not easy for women given how our society functions, but it is a must to give back a piece of your mind. And I must say, I’ve been really lucky in regard to my immediate bosses, extremely understanding and people with a progressive mindset. 

Shweta Jha

Ever received a piece of advice regarding career that you found to be extremely valuable?

Speaking of the most important, the decision of switching from India TV to India Today, was due to a piece of advise I received from one of the very senior media personnel. I was in Allahabad to cover the Kumbh Mela in 2012, and a lot of anchors from other media houses were there, too. It was then that I was having a word with the gentleman and he suggested me, stating that I totally deserve to. 

And lastly, a dream project that you look forward to working on?

14 years may seem like a long time in the industry, but for me, the journey has just begun. Sure I have gathered some experiences and have learnt a few things, but there is so much more that I want to do and learn. It is just the start!

Shweta Jha

And on that note, we bid adieu. Indian Women Blog wishes you a great journey ahead, Shweta! 

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