With a digital following of 7 million fans, Najwa Shihab is one of the most influential journalists in the country. Having made a name at Metro TV, Najwa is now charting a new career path. By Eko Prasetyo
Najwa Shihab is an influential television host who brought most of the nation’s leading figures to her Mata Najwa talk show. Although she has now left Metro TV, Mata Najwa lives on and Najwa is planning to create a new digital media platform for her popular program.
“We are currently in a brainstorming phase and seeking the perfect format. But the beauty of digital is that we can try out several formats, as we are excited with the opportunities to apply ourselves in the digital world,” she told GlobeAsia in an interview.
With seven million followers on various social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook, Najwa is upbeat and keen to engage in an even wider audience through digital formats.
In the meantime, she is talking to local news broadcasters about the opportunity to collaborate by putting her show back on TV.
Najwa also says she will continue to voice issues to empower the public, including getting people to be critical, to select good information before making decisions, to be bold in delivering opinions, to be smarter in observing events, remaining rational and supporting diversity and tolerance above all.
Excerpts of the interview:
GA: What’s the next step after Metro TV?
NS: There are several plans. The closest one for me and my team is preparing a digital media platform, as we would continue with Mata Najwa in a digital format. We know the growth (of digital media) is significant, as we observed the viewers of Mata Najwa – especially the young ones – who watch Mata Najwa on YouTube. We have also engaged with them through social media. Since we were still on TV, we have had concerns about whether we will continue to involve viewers in social media.
So far, the total asset of Mata Najwa and Najwa Shihab is seven million, spread across various social media such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, so we are excited about the opportunity to engage with a wider audience through digital platforms. That is what we are going to do and are currently developing.
“I will continue to be outspoken, being involved in various issues, being smart in looking at a particular issue, not being taken in by hoaxes.”
Is there a chance you will be back on a different TV station?
We are open to the opportunity for collaboration in various forms with various parties, as we feel that what we have been doing in Mata Najwa, our vision and mission, our issues, have achieved a good response from viewers.
We are also touched by the fact by the reaction when we decided to temporarily stop TV production. We have been overwhelmed. We are also aware that many people would like us to continue to contribute. We are planning to do so, and hopefully we will not let people’s expectations down.
Will you continue to be a journalist?
I personally will continue to be a journalist, but seeking different mediums or platforms to continue voicing the issues we have brought up in Mata Najwa.
I will continue to be outspoken, being involved in various issues, being smart in looking at a particular issue, not being taken in by hoaxes, and on issues such as anti-corruption, love of the nation, tolerance, or respect for diversity. I think these are important issues we have brought up in Mata Najwa, and it is still crucial that they be voiced.
As a journalist, what influence do you wish to have on your audience?
From the perspective of issues, I think it would be more universal. So, it is not bordering ourselves with specific issues such as women or mothers, but also universal issues, such as I mentioned before, on how we attract people to be critical, to select good information before making decisions, to be bold in delivering their opinion, to be smart in observing any phenomenon, to believe in diversity and to always put tolerance first.
These are the issues that have always been dear to my heart — as well as to my team — and we have continuously brought them up in Mata Najwa.
On women, often I have spoken in forums about the importance for women to believe in themselves. Because, I have seen the tendency that many women underestimate themselves without even realizing it. They often feel they are not strong enough, not capable enough, not smart enough or empowered enough to do something. This is interesting because I read a book by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. She said the phenomenon is similar in the US, where women also tend to underestimate themselves.
Research shows that when a group of male students and female students were asked to guess their (academic performance), the female group tended to guess lower grades than the male group. Another piece of interesting research showed that male graduates tended to be more confident to negotiate salaries. The females, on the other hand, were just grateful to have a job.
Why is this happening? In society, there are assumptions that successful women have negative correlation than successful men. Successful women tend to be considered as ambitious, forgetting their nature as women, or thought to be putting their career first. So, there are negative perceptions over these successful women, which causes other women to hold back and feel discomfort about demonstrating their successful achievements.
We have to own our success. If we work hard for it, we should not hesitate in demonstrating it because people will not respect us if we cannot respect our own achievements.
In your personal perspective, how would you describe an influencer?
I think an influencer is someone who is able to not necessarily attract (other people) but who has produced something that is impactful and influential, without showing-off or boasting, but letting the words speak for themselves.
There are lots of women who have been successful in being influencers, where their works have spoken and been easily accepted as an inspiration by others.