How BBC North West Tonight and Newsround journalist Nazia Mogra is keen to shout out about the successes of the Asian community in Preston
When you have had a swan named after you, it is safe to say you have made it.
Newsround and BBC North West Tonight presenter Nazia Mogra says she could not believe it when Martin Mere named a whooper swan Naz in her honour whilst was filming a series about wildlife.
She adds: “A team was tagging the swans they had found so they asked if I wanted one to be labelled Naz, so I of course said yes.”
It just shows how much of an impact the 34-year-old from Preston has made in her local community, whilst being involved in some of the region’s biggest news stories on BBC North West Tonight.
But being an Asian woman living in Preston, Nazia is keen to use her journalistic prowess at BBC North West Tonight to promote her Asian culture and showcase the harder to reach communities.
She explains: “I love pitching and presenting stories about young people and those from the community.
“In the digital era, things get shared on social media so quickly but it is nice to bring news to people’s homes whilst they are eating their tea.
“Since starting at the BBC I felt it was really important to tell stories about hard to reach communities within the Asian culture in Preston and Lancashire. Where I grew up in Preston there is a unique mix of people telling such positive stories that make a difference. For example, a couple of years ago we did a story about mosques across the region starting food banks, which had never happened before.”
Nazia adds she believes more needs to be done to represent her culture in the media, saying: “I do think the BBC and media industry as a whole needs to do more to reflect our society, by giving those from diverse communities the senior management roles and decision making powers. The BBC knows this is an issue, so is doing something about it.
“But there are so many opportunities and successes now. People often think you have to know someone to get anywhere but that is not true. It was hard work that got me here.”
She certainly has worked hard and Nazia says her proudest achievement was telling Anne Frank’s story to children through her role as presenter and journalist at Newsround.
She says: “The most amazing story I have told is about the Holocaust. Whilst at Newsround, I went to Auschwitz and filmed a 30-minute documentary which was nominated for a BAFTA in the Children’s Best Factual category in October. We didn’t win but there was only three of us in the final.
“It was such a surreal experience and such a beautiful film. It was a docudrama where we had a young girl acting as Anne Frank and I was the narrator. It was amazing to tell the story to children, especially as it is such a difficult subject, talking about Anne Frank and how millions of children lost their lives.
“There was a lot of skill involved in telling such an adult story to children.”
Nazia, who predominantly works at BBC North West Tonight, says she probably has the most fun at Newsround, where she can act a bit ‘childish.’
She reveals: “I like both roles as it is nice doing news for children and then adults.
“It is actually more challenging than you think telling news to children, as you have to tell hard stories in a pleasant manner.
“It can be hard going from an adult environment, where everyone is older than I am and I have to work hard to get where I am and then on Newsround I get to look younger there and be childish.
“I have done so many funny stories, but what particularly stands out is a Halloween segment. I went to Alton Towers and went on all the rides and did the Scarefest. I had to teach children how to scare their mates which was fun.
“One summer, I also went to Wimbledon and got to watch Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal play, which was amazing.”
Nazia also travelled across Europe to speak to ex-Pats as part the Newround’s Road to Brexit feature.
She says: “I do get to travel with my job, as I flew to Spain, Ireland and went to Scotland, teaching children around the EU Referendum, doing the whole Road to Brexit thing.”
Nazia added one of her real ‘pinch me’ moments occurred when she was stood outside Downing Street following David Cameron’s announcement that he was to step down from Prime Minister in 2016. She recalls: “I was next to people from Al Jazeera news channel, Sky News and CNN and there was me from Newsround. It was so surreal and I could not believe it. It was a dream come true.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself as sometimes I don’t think I have achieved a lot as I know there is so much more that I can do.”
But Nazia insists she also has a lot of fun on North West Tonight, touching on serious topics, as well as light hearted news.
She was even swept off her feet by a professional dancer, as she recalls: “When I covered the Southport Flower Show, Auton Du Beke grabbed me and spun me around. It actually made the edit. It was totally unexpected. It is nice when at a wedding or a party to say – Anton Du Beke whisked me off my feet.”
Nazia has made the most of the opportunities offered to her as she studied hard to gain a first in journalism at Edge Hill University and took on many volunteering and work experience roles.
She reveals: “From a young age my parents encouraged me to watch the news and as a treat, dad would get the Daily Telegraph which had a Junior Telegraph. I had always watched Newsround and knew one day I wanted to work there.
“I took part in a competition with the Lancashire Evening Post when I was at school and wrote a story about a lost cat and I won a prize. I still have that certificate in my portfolio. I am very proud of that.”
Whilst at Edge Hill, she began volunteering in radio, print, working for community radio station Preston FM, as well as Juice FM, and Central.
She says: “I remember one night in my volunteering days I was sent out to interview a rapper at 10pm but I ended up having to stay until 5am. I knew then that this was not going to be a 9 to 5 job, as it is anytime and anywhere.
“I went to Central and Asian Network and my first proper job at the BBC was with Radio Lancashire doing an Asian programme called Indus. The producer, Talat Awan, really championed me and let me create a news bulletin section on the show.
“My biggest break was on Radio Lancashire when all the presenters were stuck on a train after doing an awards ceremony in London and I had to stand in as a presenter. After that, I got offered lots of stand-in shifts. Then, in 2008, Ranvir Singh called me to help her out and write copy for her. Whilst doing that, she coached me. Then I did freelance shifts and I got a staff job on the team 10 years ago. As a senior journalist, my main job is presenting and going out to do reports. I produce a lot of bulletins and do filming. At the moment, I am writing longer term stories that I will be producing and I present BBC North West Tonight at 6.30pm a couple of times a month to stand in for Annabel Tiffin.”
The former Penwortham Girls’ High School pupil is very private when it comes to her personal life, but the mother-of-one did reveal she got married at Blackpool Tower Ballroom, and her wedding planner won £1m whilst she was on her honeymoon. How lucky!