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April 30, 2019

Meet Atilla Azami

As an Associate Producer on NJTV News With Mary Alice Williams’ editorial team, Atilla Azami is involved in all aspects of the show’s stories, from the initial pitch to its final broadcast/web post. “My job includes conducting interviews remotely via Skype, setting up interviews, seeing through logistical solutions, finding the right B-roll for coverage, fact-checking scripts, among other things. In short, acting as a helping hand from the mothership to the reporters who are typically out in the field,” Atilla says. Read on to learn about the path that led Atilla to NJTV, his favorite places in Jersey City, and more.

What is your background, and how did you land at NJTV?

My professional background isn’t very extensive; I’m a somewhat recent graduate. I double majored in political science and philosophy at Rutgers University. After graduation, I interned for the U.S. Department of Health for a bit, then had a brief stint at a statewide environmental non-profit. I’d say this position is the first “real job” I’ve had since college — and what a job it’s been!

I was in between jobs and was unsure of the direction I wanted to move toward when I heard about the position at NJTV News. I knew I was interested in journalism and had written for the college paper. At the time, I was a devoted viewer of PBS’s nightly public affairs programs, so I wanted to be part of an organization that embodied the values I hold dearly: education, fairness, and the arts.

Is there a recent or upcoming NJTV News story you’re particularly excited about?

I’ve been working on a mini-series about autism in the state of New Jersey with our reporter Joanna Gagis. It may or may not have aired by the time this is published, but it’s an especially relevant issue in New Jersey as we’ve had the highest autism rates in the country for some years now. We’re looking into things like possible causes, diagnosing, and sociological angles. It’s very exciting, and I hope we can shed some light on this issue.

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

Well, I sort of touched on this above. As an immigrant from the Middle East and a child of parents from a war-torn country, I understand the import of democratic institutions and how fragile they can really be. Until recently, I think it’s something many Americans haven taken for granted. So, being part of an organization that plays a vital role in strengthening those institutions is very valuable to me and is a source of immense personal reward from my professional life.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

I’m always on the lookout for productions from Independent Lens and POV. I finally watched Minding the Gap, and it was incredible. Obviously, PBS NewsHour. But, above all, Frontline is my favorite program from all of our stations.

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

I live in Jersey City Heights right across the street from Pershing Field Park. Before that, I lived across the street from Riverview Park a little farther north, where there is a farmers market returning very soon. I think most folks when they hear Jersey City think of the booming downtown neighborhood, but I really prefer the vibe and scene of the Heights. Even food-wise, there are all sorts of hidden gems: Corto for delicious Italian peasant food, Ozu Foods for top-notch Japanese, and the best pizzeria in Jersey City, Pizza Masters. (Yes, I’ve been to Razza).

What book are you currently reading?

I recently got back into reading! I just finished Mario and the Magician by Thomas Mann, which inspired me to pick back up The Magic Mountain by the same author. For all world literature, translations are key; they can make or break the experience. So, for those interested in the German author’s works, be sure to select translations by H.T. Lowe-Porter.

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

I’m a pretty active guy and really enjoy bodybuilding and weightlifting. But my favorite hobby is hiking. I’m going on a weeklong trip to Moab, Utah, in May and I’m really eager to experience hiking/biking in the desert, which is a landscape I’m totally unfamiliar with.

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