My Big Break: Halla Mohieddeen, anchor, STV News Tonight

HALLA Mohieddeen is news anchor for STV News Tonight, STV2’s comprehensive news service with all the Scottish, UK and International news stories.

Last week, it was announced that the landmark programme is also available on Facebook Live, enabling STV News Tonight to reach an even wider audience and allowing viewers to watch it wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.

STV News Tonight - Halla Mohieddeen_newSTV News Tonight is broadcast on STV2 and Facebook Live weeknights at 7pm.

When did working in the media become an ambition?

Working in the media was always more of a dream than an ambition – I fell into the industry by accident.

What was your first ‘media job’?

After interning for an English-language publisher in Beijing (after a fairly disastrous stint ‘teaching English’), I was offered a job as a copy editor for what was then known as That’s Beijing magazine.

Describe briefly how your career has unfolded between your first media job and where you are now.

While I was copy-editing at TBJ, I started working part-time as a weather presenter on CCTV 9. At the magazine, I was slowly promoted up the ranks to style and travel editor at an extremely exciting time in China.

After the Beijing Olympics, in 2008, I decided to leave the magazine to pursue work in TV, full-time. In addition to presenting on both CCTV and Xinhua, I started working as a newsreader at BON, a fledgling channel bringing China news and content to audiences in North America.

After leaving China, I freelanced across South-east Asia, until family circumstances brought me back to Scotland.

I joined France 24 in 2013 and worked with the channel as morning news anchor and Middle East Matters host until STV approached me ahead of the launch of STV News Tonight.

Any particular big breaks along the way?

My skills were tested to the limit when terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. I was rota’d on that weekend, and was thrust in at the deep end. It was something of a baptism by fire – moving from ten-minute bulletins on the hour, to four hours of non-stop breaking news and live coverage of a million man march on Republique. It proved to my bosses just what I was capable of.

Who would you like to thank more than most?

Clarissa Ward and David Eimer, who both gave the same advice, which helped me get where I am: “Know what your goals are, then go get ‘em.”

I was too scared to admit to myself that I wanted to be a TV news anchor – but I did.

They encouraged me to identify my dream role. Once you’ve got that in mind, you just have to visualise a path to get there and start grafting.

Special thanks also to John Ray, who, instead of dismissing my dreams of ditching the well-paid print gig for an on-screen career, said I should stop doubting myself and go for it.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?

I wish I’d had a bit more confidence in myself sooner. The only person holding me back has only ever been me.