Tahera Rahman Becomes First Full-Time TV Reporter to Wear Hijab

She appeared on-air for the first time reporting about funding for health clinics in the Quad Cities, a region on the Illinois-Iowa border.

For the first time in the U.S., a Muslim woman who wears a hijab has been hired to report full-time on a mainstream television news station, according to the western Illinois station doing the hiring.

On Friday Local 4 News, the CBS affiliate for the Quad Cities region on the Illinois-Iowa border, announced that its new on-air reporter, Tahera Rahman, is "the first full-time reporter who is a Muslim woman to wear a hijab on mainstream TV news in the United States." Local 4 News based its assertion on its own research and consultation with the Muslim American Women in Media Facebook group.

Rahman started at the news station as a behind-the-scenes news producer. After nearly two years, she received the promotion and appeared for the first time on air in her new role in a black and green hijab reporting a story on funding for health clinics.

"I didn't kind of have anyone who looked like me on TV, so I never really thought it was a possibility," Rahman told Local 4 News in a feature about her promotion. 

Rahman added that since she interned with a CBS Evening News bureau in Chicago, she has been told that her career will be difficult if she refuses to take off her hijab. After facing many rejections at news stations in the Chicago area, she says that an emotional phone call with her mother persuaded her not to give up attempting to report on-air. "I was like, someday, someone is going to notice the work I'm putting in and give me a chance," she told Local 4 News.

According to a 2015 Radio Television Digital News Association report, minorities make up just 22 percent of the workforce at local TV stations nationwide and are especially underrepresented in smaller news markets, where they account for just 14 percent of all employees. And a Columbia Journalism Review analysis of data from 2013 found that minority graduates from journalism school were 17 percent less likely than their white counterparts to find a full-time job in broadcasting.

Local 4 News reported that the family of Rahman, who obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism from Loyola University of Chicago, drove a few hours from Chicago to the Quad Cities to watch her report her first segment.

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