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Women Rewriting the Rules of Reporting in the Arab World

posted on: Aug 4, 2019

Women Rewriting the Rules of Reporting in the Arab World
Patricia Wall/The New York Times



The best piece of advice I’ve ever heard about being a journalist is from the investigative reporter Amy Goodman, who has worked in Nigeria and East Timor, among other places. Goodman said this: “Go to where the silence is and say something.”

That sentence hung in my mind while reading “Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting From the Arab World,” a stirring, provocative and well-made new anthology edited by the Lebanese-British journalist Zahra Hankir. It’s a book that banishes all manner of silences.

Hankir invited 19 Arab and Middle Eastern sahafiyat — female journalists — to detail their experiences reporting from some of the most repressive countries in the world. The result is a volume that rewrites the hoary rules of the foreign correspondent playbook, deactivating the old clichés. Each of these women has a story to tell. Each has seen plenty.

Some of these journalists work (or have worked) for establishment media outlets like the BBC, NPR, The Financial Times, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post and The New York Times. Others are freelance photographers, or small website operators.