Faraz Javed of WXYZ-TV Channel 7 On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor
You’re going to be on camera, so you need to be presentable. I’ve gotten compliments from people about how I dress, so I think that’s made an impression on viewers’ minds.
As a part of our series called “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor”, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Faraz Javed.
Faraz Javed is one of the latest recruits as a news reporter for Detroit-based WXYZ-TV Channel 7. Born and raised in Dubai, he comes with more than 12 years of experience in the broadcast industry, and his diverse range of skill sets includes producing award-winning television shows and covering breaking news as an anchor and reporter. When Javed is not working, you can find him breaking a sweat doing a CrossFit workout or on the mat sparring to further his Jiu Jitsu journey. He is also aiming to get his private plane license in the next three years and is planning to establish a charitable foundation to help the underprivileged.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! I know that you are very busy and we appreciate your time. Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in Dubai. One thing that my parents instilled in my two sisters and me is to be the best versions of ourselves every day. And we’ve always practiced that — doing as much good as we can for others. My parents have also been very active socially, and I’ve learned from them how to communicate, to listen to others and to learn something from every person I meet. I’m proud of my background, my family, and how I was raised.
When I was in high school, I wasn’t doing well in my classes, and my mom and dad were disappointed. Teachers would call me an average student and tell me I wouldn’t amount to much — so I decided to prove them wrong. I studied so much that I started acing every test I took, and I think that work I did — focusing on my education — is what led me to make a name for myself today.
I look back at all I have achieved, and I feel good about it. I use my story to let others know that there’s always hope, and you should never give up. My life has been filled with moments where I was told I couldn’t do something or wouldn’t succeed. It took seven years of struggling to get my current job and break into the U.S. market. I applied to 400 jobs in the U.S. to become a journalist — and only three replied back. But, if you put your heart and mind into achieving a goal, you can do it. If you’re constantly striving to achieve more and to learn more, that’s what will keep you grounded and keep you in pursuit of being better.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2006, and, after graduation, I started working for MTV in New York City. I got that job because, during my last semester in college, I saw an advert that MTV was hiring, and for three months, every day at 9 a.m., I would email my resume and cover letter to HR at MTV. They called me and said, ‘If you stop emailing us, we will push your resume to the hiring manager.’ And, two weeks later, I was hired as an intern and worked my way up the ladder to become a producer.
After MTV, I moved back to Dubai and worked for a channel called Dubai One, where I produced a lot of lifestyle, reality, sports and entertainment shows and even had the opportunity to cover the Oscars and the Golden Globes — interviewing nearly 300 celebrities, including Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Ben Stiller and Priyanka Chopra Jonas among others.
I didn’t transition to being a journalist until 2014 — and it was purely by accident. Dubai One had to downsize, and the only local production they kept was local news. They laid off half the staff, and the remaining staff was transferred to the news center. When I stepped into the news center, one of the senior anchors came up to me and said, ‘You’ve got a great smile. How would you like to report?’ I had always been behind the camera, but I had a passion for storytelling and wanted to try something new, so I responded, ‘Sure! Why not!’ And that’s when the itch hit me, and I knew I needed to break into the U.S. market.
Last year, I met with the management team virtually at WXYZ, and they believed in me, saw my talent, and brought me on board. I’m extremely grateful to them and for giving me this opportunity and my agent for rooting for me. The news market in Detroit is so important, and many aspiring journalists strive to work here. It’s not only a wonderful city, but there’s so much life here, and, in just nine months, I’ve experienced so much.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Every day is interesting because every day is different. My job at WXYZ reminds me of that Forrest Gump quote, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ And, I have to be honest, I walk into the newsroom every day with a bit of fear in my heart, thinking, ‘I really hope I can do justice to this story today.’
In terms of what’s the most interesting story I’ve covered — It’s hard to pick one because there are so many. But what really makes me emotional is when I cover stories about people who have fought really hard to achieve their dreams. When I see someone who has made a difference in their life or someone else’s life, that just hits home for me because I can relate to the struggle that person has gone through.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting as a news presenter? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, I’m pretty new to Michigan, so I’ve pronounced street names and city names wrong. And, a fun fact about me, in my mind I can’t differentiate how to pronounce V’s and W’s; I’m not sure why! When I first came to the U.S., for the longest time, I would say ‘Wegtables’ instead of ‘Vegetables.’ How I fight that struggle — I’ve trained my mind to focus on the different shape your lips make when saying a ‘V’ or a ‘W.’
But I think, one of the funniest moments I can remember, is I was about to shoot a live story, and I blanked on the city’s name and the name of the individual I was interviewing. So, I just winged it, and said something like, ‘Hey bud! Before we get into this story, walk me through where we are and some key points.’ The lesson I learned is to always write down the key points of a story. Now, I carry a small card in my pocket that has the location’s name, the guest’s name on it, the purpose of the event, key facts, and questions.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
One of many amazing things at WYXZ is that we can do in-depth pieces. On average, reporters get one to two minutes to tell their story, but with our in-depth stories, we can go up to three to four minutes. With those pieces, we can delve deeper into a story that really affects the community.
I’m currently working on an in-depth story about the backlog in the Wayne County legal system. There are cases where people have served time and new evidence comes out that they’re innocent. But they can’t get a hearing date because the court is so backlogged. So, some people have been on house arrest for nearly two years because they can’t get their cases heard. And I think that’s sad because, if they are proven innocent, not only have they served time unnecessarily, but they’re also spending extra years on house arrest until the court system can get more cases through the pipeline.
Another story I’m working on is about a rising concern about “sextortation” happening to teenage boys. These boys get targeted by cybercriminals pretending to be girls, and they exchange nude pictures with them. The boys would assume the girl is interested in them and would send back intimate pictures. Then the cybercriminals would extort them for money, saying they would send the pictures to family and friends if they don’t comply.
These are two big stories I’m working on at the moment, and hopefully we can get them out in the next couple weeks.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I’ve done pretty much every job in the media industry. I’ve worked in television — shooting, editing and producing — and, currently, as on-air talent. I’ve also been a radio DJ, and I’ve worked on commercials, music videos and even A-list feature films, like “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and “Star Trek Beyond,” in the assistant director’s unit.
So, my advice for someone starting off in their journey is this: If you’re not sure what you want to do, try everything. Try as many fields within the media industry as possible. The worst-case scenario is you don’t like it — and then you can strike it off your list as something you’d want to pursue. The best-case scenario is you’ll discover something you’re truly passionate about doing.
Another piece of advice I would give is, no matter what stage of your career you are in, put your heart and soul into it. Word-of-mouth and references are essential in this industry. So, give it your best and put in that extra effort — even when you’re just running to get someone a cup of coffee. Be the best person at getting them that cup of coffee because you never know how much they will appreciate it. For instance, when I was on the set of “Mission Impossible,” I remember voluntarily getting coffee for the director and 1st assistant director because they were both so busy. It stuck with them, and they started assigning me more important duties on set. And being the perfectionist I am, I aced all my tasks, which eventually led to my next feature film gig. When “Star Trek” started filming, the team remembered me, called me, and told me they needed me. Moral of the story; good coffee never fails.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I think a person is not only successful because of their own hard work, but because there’s a group of people behind that individual, constantly pushing them to be better. I’m grateful to a lot of people — starting off, obviously, with my family. It’s so important to always believe in your child and give them encouragement. Without my family, I don’t think I would have achieved anything in my life. They are my biggest support system and my biggest fans.
Next would be my mentors at MTV and in Dubai, and most recently, my news director, assistant news director and channel manager at WXYZ. They are the three key people at the station who interviewed me and could see the value I could bring to the network. And, of course, my agent who represents me. I’m so grateful for her.
And lastly, some of my friends have been instrumental in my success and growth, they know who they are and I’m grateful to them. That’s why choose your friends wisely.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
What’s worked for me is pre-planning. I try to pre-plan as many stories as I can. I keep a logbook of ideas on me all the time. So, whenever I’m on the streets interviewing someone for a certain story, and they tell me about another story idea, I log it. Or if I’m at the gym or out grocery shopping and I see something that could make an impact on people, I write it down. Even if, in the moment, I don’t think it’s a great story, I still write it down because you don’t know, two or three weeks from now, if something will come into the news cycle that will make the story idea relevant.
One of the biggest challenges for us journalists is finding a story every day. We have to present our own ideas during each morning news meeting — whether or not our story gets selected, we still have to bring something to the table. So, you need to always be aware and keep your eyes and ears open. Journalists are always under pressure; we’re always under a tight deadline. So, you need to remember to just take your job one day at a time.
Thank you so much for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A News Anchor.” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- You’re going to be on camera, so you need to be presentable. I’ve gotten compliments from people about how I dress, so I think that’s made an impression on viewers’ minds.
- Regardless of how much you’ve succeeded, you have to stay humble and be respectful to your colleagues and the people you meet. People won’t open up to you or want to be around you if you’re arrogant. If a manager tells me that my story idea won’t work, I give them respect because they’ve put in more years of service in the profession than I have and I trust their decision.
- Be able to connect with others. You have to be relatable to people. If you give off an air of being untouchable, people will be too intimidated to talk with you. Journalists need people more than they need us.
- Have a trademark, something you can be recognized for. Because, in this industry, when you’re only on air for a couple minutes a day, it’s so easy to be forgotten. Maybe your trademark is your personality, the way you talk, the way you tell a story, the way you dress, etc. I think one of the reasons I get a lot of recognition on the street is because I stand out. I’ll be at the gym and someone will yell out at me, ‘Hey! Channel 7!’ People will tell me that they like my storytelling and how I make my stories relatable, or they like my fashion sense. Of course, I also stand out because I’m from Dubai, and that’s a big conversation starter. A lot of people in Michigan don’t know anyone from Dubai and have only experienced the city via YouTube.
- Respect your craft. If you’re in this profession for being famous or for the money, then you’re starting off on the wrong foot. I’m not saying money or fame isn’t possible, but it doesn’t happen to everyone so that’s not why you should go into this profession. You have to respect your craft and give it your best. I left a comfortable life in Dubai for this job — not for the money, but because I wanted to be a better journalist. You have to love what you do, or you won’t survive in this industry.
According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there a few things that news anchors can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?
Media is such a powerful tool when used correctly. As a human being, most of our information comes from our consumption of the media — whether it’s traditional media or social media. So, as journalists, it’s super important for us to present the people with facts — not our opinions. At WXYZ, we present those facts without altering them. Whatever facts have been presented to us that day, that’s what we share with our viewers. It’s crucial for us to do our due diligence, and I’m happy that, at Channel 7, our managers are always making sure that we’re fact checking everything. The more news outlets that do this, the more we can remove the notion of ‘fake news.’ And for the record, most journalist and news outlets apply ethical and good practices when reporting news.
I also think it’s important for anchors and reporters to be on the streets and integrate with the communities they cover. When we’re having conversations with the community and when they get to see us in person, that’s when people start to relate and trust the media more. You become a person to them and not just a person they see on their televisions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
‘Never give up on your dreams.’ You can’t be successful without something to chase, and you need to be able to believe you’re going to reach it. If you don’t have a dream or if you give up on your dream, you’re just going to be waking up in the morning, going to work, and then starting over the next day, and it’s not going to be fulfilling.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Be kind to people. In this day and age, we’ve forgotten how far kindness can go. As a reporter, I see a lot of violence on the streets, and I feel that if people had just a little bit more compassion and empathy toward their fellow human being, it would go a long way in deescalating these situations.
I’ve come across a lot of people who say they don’t watch the news because it’s too negative. And I tell them that, at Channel 7, we share a lot of positive stories. Every day, at least one reporter — and, on average, at least two or three — turns in a positive story. For me, I try to inspire people to be kinder to each other through the positive stories I tell. One story I covered was about someone finding a Nintendo Switch and returning it to its rightful owner. Another story was about someone who was told they’d be paralyzed forever and, with the help of their personal trainer, was able to walk again. It’s important that we don’t just tell the hard news, but we also share these good stories.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
My mom. She still lives in Dubai, and I miss her every day. The love I get from her is completely unconditional. So, if I want to have a meal where I’m not being judged and where I’m seen with eyes full of love, I know that would be with my mom. Plus, conversations with her are never boring.
With me living in Michigan, we have video calls every day. When I’m eating breakfast, she’s having her afternoon tea. She is my biggest fan and will watch all my work online. She’ll tell me what’s happening on the other side of the world, and I’ll tell her what’s happening here. But I would like to see her in person and have my lunch or dinner date with her.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
If you live in the Detroit area, you can follow me on WXYZ Channel 7 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on social media at www.instagram.com/itsfarazjaved and www.twitter.com/itsfarazjaved. You can also connect through my official website www.itsfarazjaved.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
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