American Arab Journalists to Explore Middle East Protests and Other Issues at Annual Conference in Dearborn
Speakers at this year’s annual convention hosted by the National American Arab Journalists Association will address the sweeping pro-Democracy changes in the Middle East, American foreign policy towards the Arab and Islamic Worlds and the impact of Sept. 11th 2001 nearly 10 years later.
The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn and will feature panel speakers from a wide range of Arab media both from the American Arab community and the Arab World.
“There are many issues we will be discussing from the dramatic changes unfolding in the Middle East to the challenges facing American Arab and Middle East journalists right here in this country,” said Ray Hanania, a veteran Palestinian American journalist and conference co-coordinator.
“NAAJA is a non-political organization but our members write about and discuss everything including politics. Their insight in to the events around the world are important. NAAJA’s purpose is to bring everyone together to network and create a powerful voice for American Arabs of all faiths.”
Hanania, who co-hosts the weekly morning American Arab radio show “Radio Baladi” with host and journalist Laila al-Husinni, said thatspeakers have been invited from the White House and will include officials of the U.S. State Department, Arab journalists from publications in the United States and the Middle East, and activists and communicators.
“American Arab journalists are under siege,” observed alhusinni. “From Helen Thomas to Octavia Nasr, we are being targeted because of what we represent. And, what we represent is a determination to insure that the mainstream news media is fair, accurate and includes the voices of American Arabs and Muslims in their daily reporting. That doesn’t always happen.”
The conference goals are to strengthen NAAJA and launch more chapter networks in other cities. Currently, NAAJA has more than 300 members – there is no fee to join – and five chapters.
NAAJA is also hoping to launch a scholarship program for young American Arabs to help them pursue careers in journalism, and to fund the new Arab American News Wire (www.ArabAmericanNewsWire.com) which will be used to pay freelance writers to provide news and feature stories about American Arab and Muslim communities.
“We’re very good at expressing our opinions but sometimes we don’t fully document the many great things that are accomplished by members of our community,” Hanania said.
“NAAJA is hoping the Arab American News Wire will create a platform in which writers will be paid to write news and feature stories about Arabs in their communities and those stories will then be distributed free of charge to any media. The goal is to get our story out there to mainstream Americans and to our own community.”
The conference emcee this year is Warren David, president of ArabDetroit.com.
Registration is only $75 per person and includes lunch and dinner plus full access to all panels on Saturday and the Saturday night Gala Banquet. To register online or to get more information, please visit the official web page of NAAJA at www.NAAJA-US.com. A link to the Dearborn conference, and past conferences, will direct you to registration.