Risk and Reward: Local Journalists Covering the Front Lines of War in Syria and Yemen
Free and open to the public.
Journalists reporting from war zones in Syria and Yemen face severe risks daily – the risks of kidnapping, torture, or bombings. The difficulty of promoting free expression and countering false narratives from state-run media of oppressive regimes adds to the physical dangers, but for female journalists, the challenges are even greater.
What is it like to travel through Al-Qaeda-controlled lands or drone-strike territory in the midst of a war? What added dangers do women face as war reporters in male-dominated societies? How can we better understand the complexities of long-running proxy wars in the Middle East?
Join renowned journalists Zaina Erhaim, Perry World House and Kelly Writers House Writer at Risk, and Safa Al Ahmad as they seek to answer these and other questions and share their insights, expertise, and insider stories on covering the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Erhaim and Al Ahmad will discuss the dangers facing female journalists, the role of local and citizen journalism and the importance and imperative of free expression, how they train more local correspondents, and how we can ensure that the world does not forget these conflicts and their overwhelming human and other costs.
Zaina Erhaim is an award-winning Syrian journalist, working as a communications manager with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). She has trained over 100 media activists on journalism basics in Syria, and made a series of short films entitled Syria’s Rebellious Women (2016) and Syria Diaries (2017), narrated by Syrian women. Erhaim has contributed to three books: Our Women on the Ground (2019), Journalism in Times of War (2018) and Arab Women Voicing New Realities (2017). She taught Conflict Sensitive Mobile Journalism at Bremen Art University in Germany. Erhaim has an M.A. in international journalism from City, University of London. Before joining IWPR, Zaina worked with the BBC, Alhayat, Orient TV, and other local media outlets. She also wrote pieces for The Economist and The Guardian.
Safa Al Ahmad is a journalist and filmmaker who has directed documentaries for PBS and the BBC focusing on uprisings in the Middle East. Her film Saudi’s Secret Uprising was the first documentary of its kind to document the historically unprecedented protests in the kingdom. An investigation that took over a year was the first documentary to be jointly produced and simultaneously aired by BBC English, Arabic and Farsi. Her work on Yemen spans almost a decade and reflects the bloody trajectory of the conflicts within the country and their international impact. In The Fight for Yemen, which was produced for the BBC and PBS’s Frontline, Safa was one of the few journalists reporting to international news organizations from the ground during the crisis between Houthi rebels, militant groups, and the government. Her follow-up film Yemen Under Siege, which took a close-up look at the staggering human toll of the conflict in Yemen, took home two Emmy Awards in 2017. She is also the winner of the 2015 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Journalism, the El Mundo award for journalism for her body of work in 2015, the 2015 Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) International Press Freedom Award and the Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) Best International Investigation for her film Saudi’s Secret Uprising in 2014. She was twice a finalist for the Rory Peck Sony Impact Award 2012-2014. Her writing on the Arab uprisings was published in an anthology Writing Revolutions published by Penguin, which won an English PEN award. Safa is a board member of the Frontline Freelance Register, and advocates for the safety and welfare of freelance journalists who are exposed to risk in their work.