By Thomas Wootton
BBC Leeds’ political reporter in Bradford, Aisha Iqbal Khan, has been describing how the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 changed her journalism path towards politics.
Speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week, Bradford reporter Aisha discussed the shaping of her journalism career towards becoming a political reporter.
‘”I think it didn’t just change our whole world, it changed global politics but it changed me because I think it set me and my journalistic career in an ultimate direction completely different from what I thought it would be and it helped shape me as a journalist in ways I didn’t appreciate at the time.”
In describing how she first started out she said: ‘’ Believe it or not, I was an ultra ultra shy young person.
“Writing had been my only outlet, so for me I got into journalism purely to pursue writing.”
The Twin Towers attack was not the only aspect that changed Aisha’s identity and journalism path – her Asian background played a part.
“My ethnic background was not a shaping factor at the start, but I think it became that overtime.
“9/11, 7/11 and other attacks made me become aware of my own identity as a South Asian woman, a South Asian journalist.”
Aisha began her career in a now discontinued local paper, The Wokingham Times, in Berkshire before returning to Leeds and Yorkshire.
Aisha went onto to write for the Asian Express for a year before moving to writing for the Yorkshire Evening Post (YEP), which she described as the “peak of regional journalism, the place to be in West Yorkshire”.
She worked on the same patch (West Leeds) as the now current editor, Laura Collins, who she described as a “good colleague and dear friend”.
Laura Collins also appeared at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week discussing issues of trust and the importance of local journalism.
On her current role reporting on Bradford politics, Aisha said: “I’ve always had an interest in local politics, some people think it’s geeky – it’s got a little bit of an unglamourous image.”
For Aisha, grassroots politics and community politics became her passion.
She said: “Stalking the corridors of power is fascinating but it’s the local councils and local decisions that truly impact on and change people’s lives.”
While Aisha finds interest and passion in reporting local politics, she highlighted stories that touched on wider societal issues.
One such story occurred in her first two years when she reported on the Shannon Matthews kidnapping case in Dewsbury in 2008.
Rounding off her appearance, Aisha outlined the necessary skills and her top tips for young people and aspiring journalists.
Aisha highlighted the need to build contacts and working relationships, and not being afraid to take opportunities.
The overall emphasis was on the need for any aspiring journalist to pursue a topic with interest and passion whether it be politics or something else.
Follow Aisha via Twitter on @AishaIqbalKhan or contact her by email email@example.com.