Happy New Year! Commencing a new year is an exhilarating experience for Humphrey fellows. However, with the new year comes the anticipation of Professional Affiliation (PA), a mid-career work experience duty for Humphrey fellows. Anum Hanif, a 2021-2022 Humphrey alumna, successfully completed her PA at the LA Times.
As a journalist with experience in both newspaper and broadcasting, as well as a background in entrepreneurship and digital journalism, she has expanded her professional horizons to include teaching at a public university in Pakistan. Reflecting on her experience, she shares, “It was truly gratifying to witness the students gain a deeper understanding of the current opportunities and challenges within the field of news media.”
Hanif emphasizes that the knowledge, experiences, and insights gained from her time at the Cronkite School and her PA at the LA Times have been invaluable in both her journalism practice and teaching at the university.
Q. Recently, you interviewed caretaker PM Kakar. How was it?
“I work as a producer in a prime-time current affairs program. On a Wednesday evening, we had a recording session when we were informed that the interview schedule with the prime minister had been finalized for the very next day. Thanks to my brilliant team, we managed to complete our ongoing recording on Wednesday and meet a two-hour deadline to submit a document to the Prime Minister’s Office. There were additional challenges, such as traveling to Islamabad from Lahore due to foggy weather. Everything went well, and our senior anchorperson didn’t hesitate to ask tough questions, making the interview a comprehensive exploration of the current situation in the country and the caretaker PM’s perspective.”
Q. Let’s talk about January 2022, when you started your second Humphrey semester. How did you manage your study and research?
“I spent my time selecting elective courses and preparing for the Spring semester. I chose courses related to broadcast and digital journalism, gaining insights into the entrepreneurial side of journalism and different operational models. I decided not to travel outside of Phoenix during the winter break, enjoying the beautiful weather that Phoenix offers during this season.”
Q. What were your elective courses?
“During my Humphrey year, I chose two elective courses in broadcast journalism and entrepreneurial journalism, taught by Professors Susan Lisovicz and Mi-Ai Parrish. Both are top experts in their fields, and I found the discussion chats assigned by Professor Parrish to be truly enjoyable, engaging students in research-based discussions on a wide range of topics.”
Q. Tell me about your PA experience at the LA Times.
“When I went to the LA Times office in Los Angeles, I was the only in-person journalist due to COVID-19 protocols. I interacted with journalist colleagues virtually while working for the culture news team. My journalism project included history and detailed interviews, focusing on a food-related story, a unique experience for me. Additionally, I connected with journalists from South Asia, meeting two Indian journalists who were fellows of another journalism program, allowing us to share our fellowship experiences.”
Q. However, living outside Arizona for PA is a challenge for fellows.
“Yes, it is. The biggest challenge was the 12-month lease agreement, which posed difficulties for fellows needing accommodations for shorter durations. Airbnb is an option, but it is expensive. Professor John Misner led and advised me in addressing my concerns during meetings. Securing my PA position at LA Times officially, I contacted a friend of a friend in LA, who helped me find a place where I could pay for a month, which was a solution that worked out for me. However, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a reliable connection in LA.”
Q. You visited Nepal and had a reunion with a Humphrey alumna.
“Last year, I participated in a 10-day fellowship in Nepal, where journalists from Pakistan and India worked on stories of mutual interest. During this fellowship, I had the pleasure of meeting Shradha Shrestha, a Humphrey alumna whom I had previously encountered at the Global Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. This highlights the beauty of the Humphrey fellowship program, connecting experts from all corners of the world. I also shared my byline with three journalists, one from Pakistan and two from India, for a story supported by the East-West Center, reflecting the inspiring stories of women in both countries. The article was published in leading publications in both Pakistan and India.”