Qatar Stars: Nick Clark
As a presenter and correspondent on Qatar-owned independent broadcaster Al Jazeera, Nick Clark has been involved in all of the biggest global stories and has reported from some of the most dangerous parts of the world. But the recent arrival of his gorgeous five-month-old twin boys has changed his life – we find out more...
How long have you been working for Al Jazeera and why did you decide to take the job?
Six years, two in London, four in Doha. I was offered the job three months before Al Jazeera English went on air. To be involved in the launch of a channel of AJE’s size and ambition was impossible to resist. And their news ethos, “Voice of the voiceless”, was compelling.
Donald Rumsfield took a view that Al Jazeera is a “propaganda arm of radical Islamists”. Can you dispel the myths and tell us what Al Jazeera is really all about?
Well, just watch our output and that myth is dispelled at once. Our coverage is about reaching parts of the world other channels don’t touch. And in countries where there’s more universal coverage, we have indigenous correspondents reporting, adding a dimension the other channels don’t match. There is no editorial agenda other than balance and good journalism.
What stories have you most enjoyed working on in the last few years?
To be on air as history unfolded in Egypt was fascinating. Reporting from the border area of Sudan and South Sudan had its moments, requiring a quick getaway from a remote airfield in a small plane that had just flown in a visiting Bishop! But sailing across Baffin Bay, from Greenland to Canada, reporting on climate change in the Arctic last August was number one.
Your wife recently gave birth to twin boys – how are you coping?
It’s wonderful and life-affirming! Love it!
It must be hard to get much sleep with newborns and night-shifts?
Night-shifts are a challenge when they come round every now and then, but as any parent knows, you sleep when the going’s good, when they sleep, and luckily they sleep quite a lot during the day!
Have your baby boys changed you at all?
It’s a cliché, but it puts life in perspective. They are the most important part of our lives now.
Would you want your boys to follow in your footsteps
Journalism is a very different job now, compared to when I started. But if you’re naturally curious about everything and anything that happens, it’s still the best job in the world. Mind you they’ll probably have very different ideas.
Before coming to Doha to work at Al Jazeera you were an anchorman on ITV London News and also worked on a number of network TV programmes, including Garden Invaders. What that was like?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had a pretty varied career in both print and broadcast journalism. I’ve loved all its many and various facets. One minute you’re filming a series travelling from sea to source up the River Thames, the next you’re driving a tank for a Discovery show. But news and current affairs is where I’m at.
What do you most like about living in Doha?
Good sense of community, we’ve made some fantastic friends from all over the world. The weather in winter, before the crazy winds blow. And sailing.
Anything you miss about the UK?
Friends and family, and London’s Albert Bridge at night.
Any presenting mishaps you can tell us about?
Quite a few! One that comes to mind is presenting from Istanbul for the Turkish elections. It was a very hot night and I had my shoes off and my suit trousers rolled up to my knees thinking the camera could only see the upper half on my body. And then they cut to the wide shot – oops!
My Qatar Essentials
Nick Clark shares his favourite things about living in Qatar, from beautiful sunsets to great Asian cuisine…
1. I’m sucker for steamed dumplings – Nusantao at the Four Seasons does the biz.
2. There are a couple of great little camping spots at Bir Zikreet, complete with flamingoes and even the odd ostrich, if you’re lucky.
3. The beaches at St Regis and at my old home, The Intercontinental, where I used to happily waste my mornings.
4. I love Qatar’s juice stalls. They do great fresh juices in Qatar, just hold the sugar.
5. Our garden is in my top five – it’s a little barbecue haven.
WANT NICK’S JOB?
In the tough world of journalism, set against cut-backs and lack of funding across all channels, we ask Nick’s advice on how wannabes can to break into his line of work. Here are his tips from the top…
Start getting experience early by working on or creating school or university mags.
Submit articles to whoever will take them.
Get work experience in media outlets during school and university years
Show potential employers how committed you are by never giving up.
Master the skills of writing. I went from print to TV and the written word for me is still fundamental to journalism.
Stay focused on your goal and remember there’s nothing quite like the moment you get your first byline.