Cholaphansa “Hunny” Narula landed a job as a weather reporter for Newsline on Channel 11—a show she has been a part of for 14 years—when she was just 22. She also anchors Channel 3’s Thai-language afternoon news programme, Channel 11’s Thailand Today, and an English segment on NHK World, also called Newsline. She once hosted Thai folk music programme Luktung Radio and currently emcees for a wide range of international conferences, festivals, and promotional events. Here’s what she has to say about transitioning between her many roles and her conflicts with censorship. —Reena Karim
What was your first big story?
The last US presidential election. It was for Newsline on Channel 11. For this particular piece, I had to write everything; I had to see photos and every detail, even the subtitles. I was [in the US] for 12 days and was able to produce more than 10 stories. It was the first time that I went out on my own to find interviewees. Also, shooting in America isn’t as easy as it is in Thailand. You require permission to shoot on the side of the road.
How do you transition between hard news and entertainment?
It hasn’t been that difficult transitioning from one job to another. I think I just have the flair to be able to present anything. It has been an advantage for me. If you [project] to be an expert on one subject, then your job boundaries are narrow. For me, I can play any role. I could host an international conference [with Thai and foreign dignitaries] or cover something local like shrimp [disease].
Are you seen as less serious when you do entertainment news?
Not at all. I get a chance to learn more about various [subjects]. Through [emceeing at] events, I get to see things and know things that I have not seen or known before.
How do you deal with media censorship in Thailand?
You have to be very careful. There is a fine line, and you could lose your job. I tend to present the facts and the truth. I don’t try to give my opinions or be critical because my opinions can be biased and could mislead the audience. If you want to be in the industry, it is always best not to take sides.
What is your favourite part about being a journalist?
I get to know what is happening around me when I speak to people who are in other industries. Things that might be relevant to their lives—for instance, oil prices going up and down, gold, or some diseases. It’s the thrill of knowing and sharing.
Which of your roles are you most comfortable in?
I love hosting events because I get to do a variety of things. I don’t like being in front of [an audience], but after an event, when people come up to you and say you did a good job, it gives you a feeling of accomplishment and the momentum to [keep going].
Have there been any benefits being half Indian?
Being half Indian has given me a lot of opportunities. I don’t look too Thai and not too farang, so it’s a good balance. In the media industry, looks matter. And then [whether] you are able to deliver, that’s the second important thing, which should [ideally] be the first.
Featured in Masala magazine, October 2013