Tahera Rahman dreamed of becoming a broadcast journalist. However, time and again she was told by her journalism professors at Loyola University that she wouldn’t achieve her dream while wearing a hijab. Even an internship at CBS resulted in the Chicago native being asked whether she would remove it to land a job.
After years of being told “no” by television stations when applying for reporter jobs, Rahman final got her big break on February 14. It was on that day that Rahman, 27, appeared on WHBF Local 4 News in Iowa. The channel is a CBS affiliate where Rahman has worked as a producer for just over 18 months. After waiting so long to fulfill her dream, Rahman finally appeared on the broadcast as a reporter while wearing a hijab.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Rahman said in an interview following her appearance.
Rahman’s dream didn’t just come true on that Valentine’s Day newscast, she also made history. Rahman became the first full-time Muslim reporter to wear a hijab on mainstream television in the United States, according to Muslim American Women in Media, an industry group.
Rahman’s story wouldn’t be complete without her friend and colleague Tiffany Lundberg. It was Lundberg who told Rahman to keep going after each rejection. Those rejections mounted up over the years. She was rejected for reporter jobs twice by Channel 4. It was also Lundberg, a Channel 4 anchor, who introduced Rahman to the world through a four-minute news segment. Since airing, the piece has gone viral.
Unfortunately, despite Rahman receiving positive feedback from the original story and her onscreen work, there have been some negative reactions. Local 4 News has received messages from viewers stating they will be switching news channels. One post on the show’s Facebook page simply read: ”I’m going to stop watching now.”
Rahman has grown inured to the comments and slurs she has heard over the years. It has helped in her quest to become a broadcast journalist. Along with the negative comments, she has received well wishes from supporters who hope she will blaze a trail for other hijab-wearing women in broadcasting.