Macleay College journalism graduate Yalda Hakim is to begin hosting her own current affairs show on the prestigious BBC World News, based in London.
Yalda will take on the role after seven years at Dateline, the SBS current affairs show. The 29-year-old journalist will launch a new international current affairs program for BBC World News in 2013, as well as presenting news programs.
The BBC announced the appointment this month, praising Yalda for her history of high quality investigative journalism. "From a headline-making investigation in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province to her reporting from Libya during the Arab Spring, Hakim has built up a wealth of journalistic experience around the world."
Yalda told Macleay College that while she was sad to be leaving Australia, her family and SBS, she was looking forward to what “should be an incredible next stage in my working life and career”.
“I feel quite grateful about where I’m at and how privileged I am to be in a position where I am able to tell these stories and love what I do,” she said. “It’s less a job and more a passion.”
Yalda began her journalism career in 2005 while still studying at Macleay College when she did an internship at SBS. On her days off (and between classes) she would head into the studio offices to help out with any available task – nothing was too menial or beneath her.
“When I first walked into SBS and I was a Macleay student, I was willing to lick stamps all day and do the most basic job, just to be in an environment where people around me were covering such important issues,” she said.
“For me it was about doing anything to get a foot into the industry and not thinking, ‘I want to be on TV’ or ‘I want to be a foreign correspondent’. That was an aspiration and a dream, yes, but … for me it was about being here and the importance of where I wanted to see myself in five or ten years.
“It shouldn’t be about wanting to be a TV presenter or a foreign correspondent. For a young journalist coming into the industry, they should have the humility to want to be able to do anything.”
In March 2012, Yalda was the first western journalist to visit one of the villages in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, where US soldier Staff Sgt Robert Bales is alleged to have shot and killed Afghan civilians.
Yalda’s report ‘Anatomy of a Massacre’ traced the steps of the rogue soldier to help shed new light on the events of that night. It made headlines around the world, particularly in the US, with extensive coverage across the major news networks.
“To be able to go to some of the most impoverished countries in the world and give voice to so many voiceless victims, and women and children who don’t necessarily rate, that are not stories that people want to sit down and necessarily watch but are important and crucial and that’s what we do, its kept me quite grounded,” Hakim said.
Yalda said despite the increased competition for journalism jobs and concerns about the future of the media, the world still needed journalists and the good ones would succeed.
Controller of English at BBC Global News, Richard Porter, described Yalda as "exceptionally talented young journalist, who has already achieved a great deal in her career".
"With her international background and language skills, she'll provide a perfect fit for BBC World News as we continue to develop our services to global audiences during the course of 2013," he said.