WOW | Coffee Break

Women in media

Sumnima Udas
Award-winning TV Journalist / CNN Correspondent for South Asia

What stirred your interest in journalism?

The images are still etched into my memory, watching Christianne Amanpour Live, hour after hour, days on end, reporting from Baghdad during the First Gulf War. I was only about eight years old, living in Rome, Italy at the time, where the only English language channel available on my television was CNN. And I used to watch CNN, religiously, immersed in the war unfolding in front of my eyes. Amanpour would ask all the right questions, keeping leaders accountable. She was brave, relentless, and full of conviction and purpose. Even in fourth grade, most of my essays or poems had to do with global affairs, everything else seemed so insignificant. I suppose, subconsciously, that’s when I decided I wanted to become a journalist.

How is it for a woman to pursue a career in media?

The media, both broadcast and print, is an excellent career option for women who are curious, courageous, smart, hardworking, and determined to help change the world around them. Whether or not one ends up making a difference, it’s what needs to drive you every day. Otherwise, the work can get relentless, thankless and soon enough, you start resenting the job. Television journalism, in particular, is not as glamorous as it seems. The 24-hour news means you’re working all hours, often filming in uncomfortable conditions, going live on Facebook, tweeting updates, uploading live pictures on Instagram, writing for digital media, and all of this has to happen simultaneously, under the most stressful circumstances. I think women make great journalists because most can multi-task quite effortlessly.

Your unforgettable moment as a journalist…

There are so many, and that’s the best part about journalism. Every day is a new experience. You witness things and visit places most never get to see, and every day you get to meet the most incredible people. While working on a features show called Talk Asia in Hong Kong, I used to spend a few hours every week, filming with the biggest newsmakers from Beyonce and Karl Lagerfeld to Roger Federer and Bill Clinton. Whilst covering violence against women in New Delhi, I’ll never forget the countless brave women I met, willing to do anything for justice. And on the fun features side, my most memorable moment was presenting CNN’s feature show: The Silk Road: Past, Present, Future. This was a nine-month-long series I hosted, travelling from Xian, China to Venice, Italy along the ancient route, exploring how history, culture, and trade are being re-shaped as China builds its New Silk Road.