Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed YouTuber Mohammed Salim Patel about his work, what inspires him, and his YouTube Channel; The Blind Journalist.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m Mohammed Salim Patel, a blind 27-year-old who works for BBC News as a planning producer and reporter for North West Tonight. I’m also a blogger, rollercoaster enthusiast and huge boxing fan.
How and why did you start making YouTube videos?
I started making YouTube videos when I started my BA Hons degree in International Journalism because I wanted an online presence where I was discussing news stories. I knew I needed to stand out and so it was at that time when I decided to brand myself as ‘TheBlindJournalist’ and created my logo and YouTube channel, as well as social media platforms.
Initially my channel was me commenting on news articles to get used to being on camera but this then grew into me using my channel to showcase my ability and work.
I did this because I knew it was very difficult for a blind person to get employment, especially when the employer doesn’t really have an understanding of what a blind person can be capable of. So rather than my CV doing the talking for me, I’d let my YouTube show my worth.
What is your channel called, and how did you come up with the name?
TheBlindJournalist Mohammed Salim Patel is the name and it very simply explains that I’m blind and a journalist. I wanted it to be short and sweet.
What do you make videos about?
I make videos commenting on news stories, advising blind people on technology and methods of helping them, my thoughts on boxing and also to showcase my reports from BBC radio and TV.
Do you have a particular series you’re working on, or do you vary your content?
I vary my content based on what I’ve been working on at work mainly.
What inspired you to start making videos and what do you hope to accomplish?
I live by a motto of I maybe blind but I have a vision. My channel is there to share that vision, to inspire blind people that they can achieve whatever they want, but also to show sighted people that everything is possible if everyone has an open attitude. I was told I would never work in TV or that I couldn’t be a broadcast journalist, but I did and so my channel is there to educate and inspire. It’s achieved that because people have told me I’ve inspired them and also changed their perceptions of blind people.
Do you feature in your videos personally, or make your videos from other content?
I’m always featured in my videos in some way because it’s me wanting to share my views or work.
Do you feature other people on your channel in the form of interviews or co-hosting?
If they’re in my reports then yes, Tyson Fury is featured on my YouTube channel as well as other boxers and personalities.
Do you edit your own videos or have someone who does it for you?
My videos aren’t edited as the one’s I do myself are raw as I struggle to edit with being blind, but my reports for TV are uploaded from what’s broadcast on North West Tonight so they’re edited at work by myself and an editor.
Do you script your videos, or just chat as you go?
I have a rough idea of what I’ll say because I tend to go through it in my head before recording, but often I go with the flow. My reports are scripted by myself as they’re traditional TV news reports so I script into my clips.
Do you have any specific equipment you use, such as camera, lighting, screens etc? Or are you a mobile phone camera user?
I’m a mobile phone camera user but have software on my iPhone which reads everything on the screen to me when I tap it, this allows me to record and upload my videos.
How has your YouTube channel changed or developed since you began?
I started with basic vlogs on my thoughts on news stories, but it evolved into vlogs about my life experiences and giving advice to fellow blind people. It then grew into a channel where I would showcase my journalistic ability.
What are you biggest challenges with your YouTube channel?
YouTube is very visual, which isn’t great when you have no sight, which makes it difficult selecting good thumbnails etc, but that’s one of the reasons my channel name immediately explains I’m blind and so people realise straight away.
What are your favourite YouTubers to watch?
Theme Park Worldwide’s youtube videos are amazing, they’re always so detailed and explain so much about different theme parks and rollercoasters out there. IFLTV is also a great channel for boxing interviews. I also follow some channels where they teach how to play the harmonium – an Indian instrument which I play.
How and where do you promote your YouTube channel?
On all my social media platforms and via WhatsApp to all my contacts. Facebook groups of blind people also share my videos.
Do you earn money from YouTubing, or is it a hobby?
It’s a hobbie, I haven’t earned any money directly but I strongly feel it’s allowed me to get employed,
What’s something you never expected about being a YouTuber? What have you learned that surprised you?
That you can reach people all over the world, without even having attempted to promote your channel globally. It’s also a great platform to share experiences and advice.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start a YouTube channel?
Stand out, don’t have a long or totally unrelated YouTube channel name which has nothing to do with your channels’ content. Don’t use a nickname your friends use because everyone else out there won’t understand it or might just skip past it. Make videos for strangers not what you think your friends and family will enjoy or benefit from. Be open minded to listen to advice given by people.
And, finally, are your proud of what you’re accomplishing with your YouTube channel? Is it worth the effort?
Most definitely, it’s allowed me to carry out my motto and inspire people. I get very happy when people say oh you’re that blind journalist guy because I know I’ve succeeded in my branding and content.
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