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Arab women control the TV war

While Israel and Hezbollah are waging war, female journalists have taken over as the foremost to front the media war on Arab television stations.


- The female journalists here have often proved to be tougher than their male colleagues, says Shadi Tabbara to Ny Tid. He is the editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine Al Nabad in Beirut.

On Sunday, Israel bombed Qana in southern Lebanon, killing at least 11 adults and 19 children. Qana was also the city where the first media workers lost their lives in the ongoing war, and symptomatically, a woman was sacrificed: Lebanese press photographer Layal Nagib (23) covered the war actions of Al Jarass magazine when her taxi 23. July was hit by an Israeli bomb.

However, Nagib is just one of many Arab female journalists who now characterize the Arab world with its coverage from the war front. And especially on the TV screen in the thousand homes: Dubai-based TV Al-Arabiya has sent Rima Maktabi and Najwa Qassam to cover the bombing in southern Beirut. While Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, the leading Arab TV channel, sent Katia Nasser from the peaceful office in Doha to the war in Beirut. From then on, Shereen Abu Aqleh and Jivarah al-Budairi cover the West Bank and Palestine for Al-Jazeera.

While Bushra Abdel Samad was the first war reporter the Arab saw as she wore a helmet and bomb vest covered the start of the war.

The women's revolution in Arab war coverage has led journalist Ali Khalil in Dubai to conclude: "Young female reporters beat their male colleagues to the front of the war zone, while warplanes thundered over their heads."

Lebanese media have also been dominated by women's TV journalism: Mona Saliba has reported live to the private television station LBC from Bin Jbeil, the village in southern Lebanon that became known for the ground fighting between Israeli troops and Hezbollah. While NTV has sent Nancy Sabea to the bombed south Beirut.

A columnist in the Gulf was so excited about a female television reporter in Beirut that he concluded that she "outperformed (Western star journalists) Kate Adia and Christiana Amanpour".

Beirut editor Tabbara says it's no surprise that Lebanese women are leading television coverage during the war:

"Gender equality is fundamental to us in Lebanon, also in journalism," says Tabbara.

However, that does not prevent, among other things, Al-Jazeera's Katia Nasser from being flooded with fan messages from many parts of the world: "You are a hero," read one of many messages from an Arab TV viewer.

"I feel I get more praise than I deserve," Nasser told AFP. She insists that she is just one of several who got stuck in a bombed-out village.

Dag Herbjørnsrud
Dag Herbjørnsrud
Former editor of MODERN TIMES. Now head of the Center for Global and Comparative History of Ideas.

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