How I got a foot in the media industry door – and you can too

Jasmine Dotiwala is a multi-media broadcaster for the BBC, Channel 4 News, Sky News, and Head of Youth Engagement at Media Trust, which aims to bring more diversity into the media.

Jasmine Dotiwala is a broadcaster for the BBC, Channel 4 News, Sky News, and works with the Media Trust to bring more diversity into the media.
Picture: Richard Pascoe

My parents are Persian-Zoroastrian. Dad was from Mombasa, Kenya, my mum was born in Pune, India.

I was born in Wembley, London, when a football match was happening at the stadium. My dad always said I loved attention because of the cheering crowds at the stadium as I entered the world.

How did I get a foot in the door in the media industry?

I’ve always been engaged with what I love. Music, ballet, theatre, and debate, which is a part of my daily life. I love opinion, information and sharing conversation.

After university, I was offered a runner role for a TV company called Planet 24, which made The Big Breakfast and The Word.

What is the Media Trust?

The Media Trust is an organisation which sits at the crossroads of the media and tech worlds, with diverse communities, charities and young people.

The Media Trust helped all these various groups communicate positively with each other and give communities, charities and young people a voice.

Why did you decide to get involved?

There’s only so much of the materialistic lifestyle you can take. Although 20 years at MTV and various TV broadcasters were great, I needed to be able to sleep at night knowing I was doing something that actually changed lives and meant something.

The work that I do at Media Trust lets me sleep at night and know I am doing something that brings positive change to societies and communities.

What lessons have you learned?

Learn to pick your battles wisely, listen to everyone and hear everyone’s story.

I have learnt that everyone’s truth is THEIR truth and therefore not wrong.

People simply speak from their own life experiences. Put yourself forward for exciting opportunities – someone has to do it – why not you?

But if you’re always the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.

What challenges have you faced and overcome?

Patience is important.

Playing the long game is crucial. Sometimes things don’t happen straight away but if you’ve planted seeds of opportunity they will always come to fruition when the time is right.

Learning to address racist, sexist and classist people calmly, with grace and class is a skill learned after a lifetime of dealing with things that you could have addressed better.

What advice would you give teens wanting to get into a career in the media?

Have a can-do attitude and always go above and beyond what’s expected.

Be professional, turn up on time with a good attitude, get your foot in the door and keep your head down in the first few weeks. Write lists daily – you won’t remember everything.

Be lovely to everyone from the receptionist and security, to the company CEO, as the runner today could be your boss tomorrow.

Read more: How I got my first journalism job

How I started working at the BBC

Working as a magazine journalist

How I became a newspaper editor in my twenties

Picture: Richard Pascoe

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