Telum Talks To: Aziz Al Sa'afin, TVNZ

Telum Talks To: Aziz Al Sa'afin, TVNZ

By Kristy Nguyen

Describe what an average day looks like for you at TVNZ.
As a journalist, my daily routines revolve around the ever-changing news cycle. An average day includes writing, producing, filming, presenting, and sometimes even editing my own stories across linear television, digital, and social. As Australia Correspondent, I will be assuming even greater responsibilities, working autonomously in the field, and efficiently managing my one-person bureau from across the Tasman.
How did you get started in journalism?
I completed my Bachelor of Communication Studies at Auckland University of Technology, majoring in film and television, and minoring in journalism and radio. Coincidently, I graduated as TVNZ’s Graduate of the Year and completed my first work experience in the 1News newsroom almost 15 years ago. 
From there, I secured my first job as a Junior Producer and Autocue Operator for 3News as it was then known. After a decade working at that network, I found myself back at the place at TVNZ where I did my first work experience all those years ago. 
Tell us about the biggest career highlight you've experienced so far.
I consider myself very fortunate to be a journalist, and my career has been filled with countless highlights. Spending time at the Patea Māori club, speaking to the many families during the Poi E anniversary, and securing exclusive interviews with Richie McCaw and Daniel Carter after their triumph at the Rugby World Cup are two wonderful memories. 
Reporting on the March 15 Terror Attack stands out as a pivotal moment in my journalism career. Having the opportunity to connect with (and even translate for) the affected families and offer a culturally sensitive perspective, given my Arabic heritage, was incredibly meaningful. 
How closely do you work with the newsroom and other departments at TVNZ?
Being a journalist today means close collaboration with all parts of the newsroom and really does speak to the true nature of our mahi. Whether it's digital, linear television, or across the entire company, our day-to-day encompasses a cross-platform and cross-departmental approach. 
As the new Australia Correspondent, collaboration becomes an even more integral aspect of my role. I will be actively involved in all of our news and current affairs shows, working closely with our digital teams, and providing coverage of the stories making headlines across the ditch. You could say I will be doing everything, everywhere, all at once. 
Are there any topics of interest you're covering at the moment?
As we gear up for our election coverage this year, I find myself deeply invested in stories about the cost of living, crime and justice, as well as policy. I am also interested in human interest, social issues, and foreign stories, which sets me up well for my new role. I am excited to cover Australia’s preparations for the Indigenous Voice referendum, the first in more than two decades. The AUKUS alliance is also undoubtedly on my radar, as is the FIFA Women's World Cup. 
What advice would you give to PRs hoping to submit a pitch to you?
Storytelling is at the heart of what we do and so if there is any doubt that a story is good, I would recommend listening to your gut before you pitch. The most compelling are often simple and can be effectively conveyed in a single promo line. 
It goes without saying that we work in the business of pictures, so it is so essential that pitches include captivating visuals we can shoot, which also includes securing access to credible, unrehearsed and engaging talent. In an era of short attention spans, audiences are looking for authenticity and easily disengage from stories that lack genuine and engaging talent or storytelling - content is key. 
You’ll be relocating to Sydney as the new Australia Correspondent in August. What are you looking forward to, and what will you miss most from leaving your current roles?
I can’t wait to get across the Tasman and hit the ground running as TVNZ’s Australia Correspondent. There are so many meaningful stories that hold great significance for New Zealanders, waiting to be told. Being out in the field, on the tools, and actively reporting is my happy place. 
However, there is a bittersweet feeling about leaving this particular newsroom and the 1News whānau. Working alongside this incredibly talented, vibrant and diverse team has been an awesome experience - there is nothing quite like being here when news breaks. But I am really looking forward to collaborating with 9News' newsroom and building connections with my Australian colleagues.

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Aziz Al Sa'afin

Australia Correspondent


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