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Women Journalists on the Front Lines

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Women Journalists on the Front Lines

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Nadine, Ansam, and Linda: three young Palestinian journalists, who with perseverance and determination were able - within a short period of time - to capture the hearts and minds of audiences throughout the Arab World and make a name for themselves within Arab satellite broadcasting. Their stories deserve to be told, and there can be no doubt that their example will inspire a generation of young women to follow in their footsteps and strive for their own place in the global arena of media and broadcasting.

By Riham Abu Atyah


Nadine Khammash: News Correspondent and Anchor for Al Arabiya

Nadine began her journey in media at Birzeit University, where she earned her degree in the printed press and worked for nearly three years in local broadcasting agencies. After graduating in 2010, she was immediately offered an opportunity to join the crew of Al Arabiya, the pan-Arab satellite news channel. It did not take long for her to capture the hearts of audiences with her striking presence and impeccable performance.

A “daughter of Jerusalem”, she began her work at Al Arabiya with a three-week course at the station’s headquarters in Dubai, after which she was chosen as one of the fresh young faces for the channel. “It was a very heavy burden on me at first," she says. "I felt a lot of pressure due to the fact that Al Arabiya comprises some of the most well-known and respected names in the industry. I had to go on the air and live up to such a high standard hoping I would prove myself worthy enough to my colleagues. I had to work on myself as well, in terms of language and pronunciation, and even to expand my knowledge of politics.”

Her family’s constant support also played an important role in her career. It was her father, Dr. Umayah Khammash, who had always dreamt that one of his three daughters would become a famous journalist. He often encouraged Nadine by providing her with countless books on politics and poetry. He would even take her to media seminars and symposiums in order to familiarize her with the journalistic environment. Nadine herself worked hard and did everything within her grasp to establish herself as a journalist.

“Being homesick was not easy,” she says. “For the first time, I was far away from my family, living alone in Dubai. It gave me the motivation to give my all to my work and to succeed in order to make my family proud. I had a duty towards my family and my country.”

She offers young women aspiring to be journalists a word of advice:“Read as much as you can. In order to become a journalist, you must possess a great deal of knowledge, as it will serve to strengthen your language and your analytical abilities.” She further emphasizes the importance of working while still a student. “Working while at university will strengthen your character and allow you to integrate more easily into society. It will give you a chance to enter the field of journalism even before you graduate and help to expand your professional network.”


Ansam Salman: Correspondent for Al Hurra News

Ansam was not admitted into the Radio and Broadcasting Media program at Birzeit University as she had wished. Instead, she was obliged to specialize in the printed press, but never gave up on her dream of becoming a television reporter. In fact, her original rejection only served as additional incentive to persevere and work hard towards her goal. She began working in media during her second year at university, taking her first job at a radio station, “The Voice of the East,” in Ramallah. After receiving several months training, she began working as an official reporter.

In 2009, she got her big break on Palestinian satellite television when she was offered an opportunity to host the daily show, “Good Morning Jerusalem.” While presenting, she caught the attention of a member of the crew of a Jordanian TV station, who took the initiative of nominating Ansam, through a friend, for a position as a correspondent for Al Hurra, a station servicing the West Bank and Jerusalem. She was offered the position immediately.

“Working as a journalist requires a great deal of effort, which is especially true for young women,” she says. “You are required to go wherever your work may take you. You may have to work late into the night to cover stories as they happen, or go to places you would prefer not to in order to write a report. One time, I even had to go to a waste dumping site.”

She adds, “My great passion for my work in television, my determination to achieve my goals, and the understanding and constant support of my family are the reasons I was able to overcome all of these difficulties and impediments to my success. Anyone who aspires to enter the field of journalism will have to work very hard in order to develop themselves. Take advice from those who have experience, and if at all possible start working while you are still a student at university. Always be humble, willingly start conversations with people, and remember to respect their traditions and customs.”


Linda Shalash

Linda began her career in journalism immediately after graduating in 2008 from the Department of Broadcasting and Television at Birzeit University as a reporter for Al Quds satellite station. She says that the University had called her and informed her that an Arab television station was looking to add a veiled journalist to their team. She applied and was asked to attend a week long training program with the station, after which she was selected to be one of their new correspondents. She says of the obstacles that she faced, “The biggest difficulty was having to deal with harassment from the opposite sex. Some of the male reporters were less than pleased to be working with a woman, and I sometimes feel that I am not accorded my full rights as a professional.” As for the community, she completely denied having suffered any mistreatment while on the job. “On the contrary,” she says, “most people treat me with respect and appreciation.”

Linda, too, has received her family’s full support since she first decided to enter the field of journalism, despite the fact that they were afraid for her safety under the conditions of the Israeli Occupation. She advises young women journalists to “persevere in achieving their goals, to develop themselves and their skills, and to never become discouraged by the lack of opportunity.”


An Arabic version of this article first appeared in issue three of MADA El E'lam, the magazine of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, published on 13th October 2011. The original article can be downloaded in full below or directly from the MADA website.



Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2012-03-08 17:42

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