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Friday, October 07, 2022

Diversity, new approaches apply to Middle East coverage

Natalia Sancha has always taken a collaborative approach to journalism. When she’s on assignment, she asks others to cover the same story about their point of view.

This stems partly from an interest in telling underreported stories, but as a female journalist in a male-dominated field, she says that the cooperation and support of the women she works with has always been important. Used to be.

“I would talk to male and female journalists, and I always felt that women had a similar point of view, because we had similar experiences while covering the story,” said the 42-year-old journalist.

That collaborative approach came into play in 2020 when a publisher asked Cam if she was interested in writing a book about Syria.

He countered with a better offer.

“I told them that the mass narrative by women journalists about the wider region would have a different effect,” she said. “I could write the book myself, but it wouldn’t mean the same thing.”

Spanish journalist Natalia Sancha covers the situation in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra after Syrian government troops and their allies were recaptured from Islamic State militants in 2016.  (Photo Credits: Natalia Sancha / Mohamed Miri)

Spanish journalist Natalia Sancha covers the situation in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra after Syrian government troops and their allies were recaptured from Islamic State militants in 2016. (Photo Credits: Natalia Sancha / Mohamed Miri)

Originally from Andalusia in southern Spain, Cam has covered conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen in the Middle East over the past 14 years, and reporting from Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.

She has recently been working with the EU Department of Communications, after leaving Beirut for health reasons following a major explosion in the city in 2020.

Women “have a different experience because we go to places our male partners weren’t used to. Not because we’re smart, but because much of the region is still Arab, Muslim, and gender-segregated,” Cam told VOA.

Spanish journalist Natalia Sancha photographs a destroyed building in the Syrian desert village of Qarietin in April 2016.  (Photo Credits: Natalia Sancha/Mohammed Miri)

Spanish journalist Natalia Sancha photographs a destroyed building in the Syrian desert village of Qarietin in April 2016. (Photo Credits: Natalia Sancha/Mohammed Miri)

He said that having women journalists makes an impact.

“If I put myself in the reader’s position, I’d prefer to have a woman tell the story because it’s going to be about 100 percent of the population, which means you’ll have a more inclusive narrative on conflict.”

For her book, Cam reached out to other women covering the Middle East to ensure a diverse perspective from foreign and local journalists.

The result of nearly two years of cooperation bullets for allReleased in Spanish in April.

Cam said, in the book, “we tell a story with different voices that represent all women”.

Each offers an individual perspective on the historical moments covered, including the fall of autocratic governments, popular protest movements, and wars. It also investigates discrimination and harassment of women in newsrooms and on assignment.

making connections

Understanding language and culture goes a long way towards making progress in this area, says Maya Gabeli. The Reuters Bureau Chief for Lebanon, Syria and Jordan is one of the book’s contributors.

“There is so much to say and show from the point of view of women journalists who were influenced at the time by the women they were reporting to,” she said.

Lebanese-American journalist Maya Gabeli is the Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.  (Photo Credits: Aud Anderson)

Lebanese-American journalist Maya Gabeli is the Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. (Photo Credits: Aud Anderson)

Born in the US to Lebanese parents, Gebili began her journalism career in 2013 with a local news site in Beirut, Lebanon. Before joining Reuters, he covered the field for Agence France-Presse.

Gabeli said his American and Lebanese background helped him understand the region better, which in turn shaped his reporting. Knowing the local language is an important part of this.

“When interviewing a minister or a displaced person or a worker, the most important element is to gain their trust,” she said. “If you’re able to speak the language and make them feel comfortable from the start, it changes everything. It gives you a really beautiful kind of access.”

In addition to Iraq and Lebanon, Gabeli, 30, has also traveled to Syria to cover the war against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

“I’ve been very privileged to reach certain communities directly without having to work with a translator or fixer, which also shapes the way stories come out,” she said.

Syrian-Kurdish journalist Khabat Abbas, who has covered the war in Syria, testifies to its importance.

“It’s knowing the language and culture that gives people a sense of comfort to open up to you,” she told VOA from Kamishli, Syria.

That knowledge helped when 34-year-old Abbas was on the job with Saamcha in March 2021. He traveled to a Kurdish-run detention camp in northeastern Syria and interviewed female jihadists linked to IS, For a story in El Pais.

“Living in Kamishli” [in northeast Syria]I met two British journalists who were very good colleagues of mine who were disappointed after Shamima Begum and other women in the camp refused to talk to them,” said Sancha, a young woman leaving her home in Britain at the age of 15 Referring to. Join IS.

“Their fixer was a man, so the jihadi women didn’t talk to them because they’re fanatics, and they don’t talk to men. But then I was able to sit down with Shamima and the other women, who made spectacular appearances from inside their tents.” Gave interviews,” said Cam.

He said that Abbas had a role in talking to those women.

Unlike Sancha and Gebeli, Abbas grew up in the marginalized Kurdish region of Syria where, until the war broke out in 2011, journalism effectively did not exist.

“Common people in our area were used to seeing women taking up arms and fighting, but they were not used to seeing a woman holding a camera on the streets and on the front lines,” Abbas said. “I had to sacrifice a lot to convince my family and society that I am as good as my male colleagues, if not better.”

Journalism attracted him because the story of the Middle East is often told by male journalists, both local and foreign.

Abbas said, “The story hasn’t changed because of this, but if local and international women journalists get a real chance to tell the story of the Middle East, that narrative can change the way others see the region.” will affect.”

Cam also believes that women in journalism have an influence on the way they view issues in the field, including post-traumatic stress disorder and its impact on women’s health, and topics such as violence and alcoholism.

“We talk about all the issues men don’t usually talk about,” she said.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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