The only Singaporean anchor on Bloomberg Television, Haslinda Amin, tells LEE XIN HUI about improvising on-air and reporting from the field in a bulletproof vest.
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It’s 2pm and Haslinda Amin has been running around (in sports shoes) since 4am without having had a bite. Yes, the 13-year veteran anchor – who covers political and financial news in South-east Asia – does much more than reading off a teleprompter. In fact, while on-air, she has to improvise according to real-time financial market changes. Off the air, she does her own research and speaks to experts and newsmakers to keep her finger on the pulse of the industry. Her adrenalin-fuelled job also requires her to give live reports from the field (think plane-crash sites, after a bombing, or at an anti-government clash), often wearing a bulletproof vest.
What challenges did you face when you were new to the job?
When you’re reporting news, there is no room for error. When I started, I spent months reading up on financial terms and developments, and sought help from analysts and economists. No one knew me then, so I had to make a lot of cold calls, but I think it’s the same for anyone making a career switch. You just have to get over the embarrassment of not knowing and ask questions.
How jittery were you when you were in front of the camera for the first time?
The night before, I couldn’t sleep! On the day itself, I had to report from the trading floor and I was only a month into the job. During the broadcast, I was sweating in front of the camera! It was really a sink-or-swim moment.
You also give live reports from the field. What’s the most harrowing situation you’ve been in?
I’ll never forget the time when I had to report live from Bangkok in 2010. Street riots were everywhere, and protests had turned bloody and violent. Many of the journalists were afraid that we were in danger – even though most of us were in bulletproof vests! Bullets were flying around, more than 100 people were injured and dozens were killed… I think having my life put at risk really puts into perspective what I have to go through as a journalist to bring accurate, breaking news to people.
Your confidence in front of the camera is so admirable. How do you develop such aplomb at work, say, when giving a presentation?
I do a lot of research beforehand, because facts can really empower you. I also make sure I know what’s been said already, and play out different scenarios of what my interviewee might say, so I have a response for each point or concern. When someone spends time listening to you, you should always be prepared, so they won’t feel it is a waste of their time.