An Interview with Aarti Pole, Global National Washington Correspondent
Fusia: What is it like working as a woman for Global News and more specifically as a South Asian woman for Global News?
Aarti: There are so many women to look up to at Global National, including, of course, our anchor, Dawna Friesen. Global has given me a wonderful opportunity to be one of the first Indo-Canadian female TV Washington Correspondents, covering a wide range of national and international stories from the US capital. It’s so important that Canada’s diverse population and their perspectives are reflected in news programming and I’m pleased to be part of a team that values that.
Fusia: Can you give a brief summary of your career ups and downs and what it has taken for you to get to your current career position?
Aarti: I decided when I was 6 years old that broadcast journalism was the career for me. I’m not sure how I set my sights on that so early… perhaps a lot of news watching at home and public speaking at school. My parents were surprisingly supportive, despite it not being (at the time) the most conventional line of work. I even remember my dad bringing home a magazine with former correspondent/anchor/host Jane Pauley on the cover encouraging me to ‘go for it’. But, it wasn’t an easy road by any means; there was a lot of ground work and certainly rejection. I applied to stations in every corner of the country. I got more “no’s” than I could count. It was unbelievably discouraging. Most people didn’t even respond to my emails, calls and letters. Finally I got a yes from a small station in Northwest BC. Without a second thought I packed up and moved. Working there as a Video Journalist, I was required to pretty much take on every roll in the newsroom. Shooting, reporting, radio hosting, anchoring, at one point I was even doing the sportscasts (all while rolling my own teleprompter to boot!) That was just the start. With all the skills I learned there, I was able to land a job in a Winnipeg newsroom. In the decade since graduating, I worked in Terrace, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Toronto, before getting to Washington. Hard work, persistence and endless support from wonderful colleagues, friends and family – that sums up the journey so far.
Fusia: How does being a Washington Correspondent differ from your previous positions in Canada? How did you come to making this specific career change?
Aarti: In DC we are a small team, some days there might be just two of us working. In that respect, it’s very different from some of the other large bustling newsrooms where I’ve worked. What I cover has changed somewhat, now it’s primarily US and international stories. It’s a great new challenge to focus on US politics and current events and covering international news. I have always had a great deal of respect for journalists who are on the ground where a story is unfolding. Moving forward I would like to continue telling stories from all over the world, so when the opportunity came to take this next professional step, I knew it was a good fit.
Fusia: What is the story that you have covered that you are most proud of to date? What kind of story do you most hope to cover in the future?
Aarti: Truthfully, it’s too difficult to actually narrow it down to one story. You get such a variety of assignments that it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
I’m proud of stories where I get a chance to raise awareness about international issues, or introduce viewers to inspiring individuals who may live in their neighbourhood. The beauty of this job is I get to learn something new every day and meet new people who enlighten me. That is a blessing in any job. As for the future, in news, it’s pretty unpredictable, but I’m looking forward to covering the upcoming US presidential election!
Fusia: How do you measure success and how do you imagine your future in your career as a journalist? What are the biggest goals that you are hoping to achieve?
Aarti: Success is so subjective. For me, happiness is an important component of how I measure success. Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy! As a journalist, if a story I report on touches someone, reaches someone, I think that’s success. In the future, I would like to continue telling stories from all over the world, possibly continuing to work in foreign bureaus.
Fusia: What does being a journalist mean to you?
Aarti: It’s a privilege to communicate with the public every day. Being a journalist means always being curious, and being passionate about your work. You wake up every day not knowing what the day will bring, but you know it will be interesting. Being a journalist also means you have the opportunity to serve your community, your viewers. Asking questions they want answered, providing your audience with information about events and issues from across the country or from the other side of the world. It’s hard work, but if you love it, it’s incredible.
Fusia: What does being a recognizableCanadian icon mean to you?
Aarti: Hmm…I don’t know that I would call myself that! If my story or my work inspires someone to pursue their dreams that is wonderful! I am conscious of the fact that I have a very public job and to a degree my life is pretty public. If I am a role model for someone, I would hope the take away is hard work pays off, stay humble, be grateful – and it’s ok to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it!