The ONLY active voice for American Arab Journalists.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

SPJ President Christine Tatum publishes article on ethics in journalism in Arab American News

Christien Tatum, the president of the Society of Professional Journalists is one of the most open and forthright journalists I have met. She takes journalism as a profession very seriously and is objective in a manner so uncharacteristic of most other mainstream American journalists.

She recently published an Op-Ed in the Arab American News in Dearborn, one of the nation's leading Arab American newspapers, on Ethics in Journalism Week.

Check it out at:

Great job Christine. And that the president of the SPJ would reach out to Arab Americans through the professional Arab American media is a trend that I hope others will follow.

-- Ray Hanania

SPJ Awards recognize Palestinian American columnist

Palestinian/Arab American Columnist wins prestigious Journalism Award

Chicago – Ray Hanania was awarded the prestigious Peter Lisagor Award for Column Writing in the Community Newspaper category Friday night by the Society of Professional Journalists Chicago Headline Club.

Hanania writes a syndicated column and is the political writer for the Chicago-based Southwest News-Herald. The award is for three columns which appeared last year in the Southwest News-Herald, and in other syndicated newspapers that carry his writings. One of the columns on Muslim Girls graduating from a Chicago suburban Islamic school was syndicated to newspapers in the Middle East and in the Arab American press.

The columns reflected both his unique humor writing style and his serious approach to regional events, and are titled: "Thanksgiving Tabouli Wars Is Now Served [at the Hanania Household]," "Graduates Who Defy Stereotypes," and "Reavis [High school] Reunion Creeps Up Like Receding Hair."

Finalists who were awarded runner-up awards in the same category are Joseph Aaron of the Chicago Jewish News for "Talking and Listening," "Real Jewish People" and "Jews and Darfur," and Thomas Mucha of Crains Chicago Business Magazine for his "Small Talk" columns.

This is Hanania’s 3rd Chicago Headline Club/SPJ Award. He previously won Lisagor awards in 1984/85 and 2002/03 for column writing. Last year, Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" in a national contest hosted by the New America Media Association.

Hanania began his journalism career in 1976 writing for community newspapers and later for the Chicago Sun-Times. He covered Chicago City Hall from 1977 until 1992, and was also a weekend talk show host on WLS AM Radio. He is the author of eight books.

The Lisagor Awards are a highly competitive and prestigious journalism achievement representing journalists from community and daily newspapers, radio and TV media throughout Illinois.

The competition's categories range from in-depth reporting and photography to business, commentary and feature reporting. In other categories, The Chicago Tribune received 11 honors, The Chicago Sun-Times received 6 awards, the Southtown, 4 awards, Crain’s Chicago Business and WTTW Channel 11 each received 5 awards, Chicago Public Radio received 6 awards, and The Associated Press received 4 awards.

The presentations were made at the Chicago Headline Club's 30th annual awards banquet at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago.

The featured banquet speaker was Jed Horne, an editor at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and author of "Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City," published by Random House.The awards are named for Peter Lisagor, late Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Daily News. Reporters and editors from SPJ chapters in South Florida (Miami), Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Houston, Inland California and Western Washington (Seattle) reviewed more than 700 entries published or broadcast in 2006.

Plaques were presented for 65 reports, chosen for such attributes as enterprise, accuracy, scope, style and impact.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Arab American Journalists Urge release of Alan Johnston, BBC reporter kidnapped in Gaza Strip March 12

The National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) expresses its distress at reports that Alan Johnston, a BBC journalist kidnapped in the Gaza Strip on March 12, may have been harmed or killed.

Conflicting news reports have been issued regarding his fate, quoting unknown groups on Internet web postings.

NAAJA members pray that Mr. Johnston is alive and unharmed, and the organization strongly condemns his kidnapping. NAAJA urges that Mr. Johnston be released immediately and that evidence of his condition be released immediately by the kidnappers.

Journalists should not be targets and should be granted protection by all sides in all conflicts and regions of the world.

"This is an outrageous, heinous act of terrorism, to declare that he has been killed. We are very concerned about Alan Johnston's fate. We also call on all responsible parties to undertake every possible effort to confirm his status and to apprehend and punish those individuals who are responsible for this kidnapping," said Ray Hanania, a NAAJA board member after consulting several NAAJA members across the country in an emergency conference call.

"We hope these reports prove to be false. And we hope that Mr. Johnston is released immediately, that he is unharmed and that the perpetrators are brought to justice for this crime. There is no injustice that justifies any victim of injustice to commit and act like this."

Hanania said NAAJA members are very distressed and concerned and are waiting to hear more news on the status of Mr. Johnston.

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Learning from the Imus controversy -- for Arab and Muslim American Journalists

Arab and Muslim American Journalists must unite
Learning from the Imus scandal

One of the reasons -- not the only reason -- why NBC pulled the plug on Imus last week was that African American journalists who worked at NBC and MSNBC spoke out publicly against the comments that Imus made deprecating African American women.

The National Black Journalists Association also spoke out urging its members to speak out against the comments that Imus and his sidekick Sid Rosenberg made about the African American members of the Rutgers Woman's basketball team. Imus has made racist comments in the past. But this time, he was challenged head-on by the powerful journalism lobby of the African American community.

As an Arab American, I wonder outloud, why has Imus been allowed to repeatedly slander Arab Americans and Muslims without even a reprimand? Part of the reason is that we, as Arab and Muslim American journalists, have not yet reached our professional clout. Arab American journalists are growing in numbers.

NAAJA -- the National Arab American Journalists Association, is only one of 12 Arab American journalism groups -- has more than 175 members, 60 of them listed on the web page, and still more on the listserv.

As journalists of Arab heritage, Christian and Muslim, we have a responsibility to recognize how professional journalists can change the injustices of the world simply by being professional journalists. Simply by networking together not on the basis of politics, regional ethnic and religious identity but on the basis of the shared fate. We are Arab and Muslim. We are targets of discrimination. Our story is rarely told. We are most often seen by the mainstream media and public when Arabs and Muslims are the key characters in stories of violence, terrorism and wrongdoing.

The positive side of our community is rarely portrayed, or not portrayed enough. We can make a difference.

This isn't about personality. This is not about individual clout. This is not about differences we all do share on issues of politics, the Middle East conflict and more.

The differences we see in each other, are NOT seen by the Americans around us. Mainstream America does not see these differences. They can oftentimes not tell the difference between Palestinians or Pakistanis, Arab Christians or Arab Muslims. I am most often mistaken for a Palestinian Muslim by Americans, even when my bio states outright my personal religion.

If the society in which we live cannot see our differences, why do we insist of seeing them ourselves?

Each one of us can take something different from the Imus affair.

African Americans are engaged in a community-wide sooul searching over the issues of free speech and the use of similar, disrespectful vernacular found in African American hip-hop and rap, and African American standup comedy.

We Arab Americans and Muslim Americans and people from the Middle East need to also take something out of this controversy that helps us become stronger, more professional and helps us educate the non-Arabs and non-Muslims among whom we live in this country. I urge you to do the following:

  • please support NAAJA ... there is no membership fee. Join the NAAJA listserv by emailing ... we charge no fees and we have no presidents-for-life. You can organize your own local chapter, efforts and events in your own cities. NAAJA is about networking so we can help each other.
  • Send news about your achievements to the NAAJA listserve because your successes serve as encouragement for others. Your successes create the paving for the road for those who follow us. That pride in ourselves can make the difference of success or failure for other young Arab and Muslim journalists.

  • write a column addressing the issue of Imus from the standpoint of an Arab or Muslim American and share what this controversy means to you. It's not about agreeing on issues but rather demonstrating to the larger mainstream community that as Arab Americans and Muslim Americans we have concerns about this, also, and our voices must be heard. If you cannot write a column, then share your views with your editors, staff or others in journalism.
  • Join the Society of Professional Journalists. Let them also know that Arab and Muslim Journalists count. They want to help us augment our voices, our presence and our participation as professional journalists but they must hear from us.

  • Finally, extend your hand in friendship to other young Arab and Muslim Americans who are interested in becoming journalists. When I started out in journalism in 1976, there were no such mentors to help navigate through the traumas that faced me and a hadful of others. Today, we have increased in numbers, but we must make sure not to ignore our responsibilities to help our own become a full member of our society, our profession and the world in which we work.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope to see all of you on the NAAJA list serve and hearing about all your great successes. Your achievements really do mean something not only to yourselves, but to the young people in our community starving for journalism role models and mentors, people with whom they can identify and reach out with their hands when they need help or guidance.

    Ray Hanania
  • National Union of Journalists UK/Ireland urge release of BBC journalist

    National Union of Journalists UK/Ireland urge release of BBC journalist
    April 15, 2007

    The National Union of Journalists has strongly condemned the kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston and pledged at its annual conference to do all in the union’s power to help secure his release.

    Alan was kidnapped in Gaza 33 days ago. John Williams, Editor of BBC World News, who came to address the NUJ on Saturday (14/4), told a packed hall that as every day passed, concern for his physical and mental wellbeing was growing.

    He paid tribute to Alan’s calmness and courage and said that although Alan would be embarrassed at all the media attention he was getting, there could be no finer ambassador for the right to report freely.

    He said: “Alan stayed when everyone else left because he believed that the story of Gaza must be told to the outside world.”

    Passing on a message of thanks to the NUJ from Alan’s family, John Williams said that the tributes to Alan that meant the most were those from his fellow journalists, especially those in Gaza and Ramallah, and he emphasised that it was the Palestinian people themselves who suffer most from this sort of attack on freedom of expression.

    General Secretary Jeremy Dear read out a message from the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) describing the marches, demonstrations and solidarity actions - and even a three-day hunger strike - that the union had held since Alan’s capture.

    The PJS also praised the efforts of the NUJ to secure Alan’s release, thanked the union for staying in touch on a daily basis and stressed the importance of all journalists standing together to continue the campaign.

    Other BBC colleagues who had worked with Alan paid tribute to his ‘calm, unflappable presence and his authoritative, quiet, understated manner’ and also praised the brave stand that the PJS had taken in defence of Alan.

    The conference voted unanimously to keep up the urgent global campaign for Alan’s release, praising the robust campaign of the BBC and expressing concern that the Government and Palestinian security forces have so far failed to carry out their promises to do all they can to free Alan.

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Arab American journalists applaud discipline against Don Imus, urge broader view of racism problem

    Chicago, IL/April 12, 2007 -- Members of the National Arab American Journalists Association (NAAJA) applauded decisions by MSNBC and CBS to drop Don Imus from their television simulcast and radio syndication.

    The actions come in the wake of racist remarks that Imus made regarding African American members of the Rutgers women's basketball team.

    NAAJA members believe that Imus represents a growing problem of racially insensitive comments being made not only by entertainers, but by so-called mainstream serious news commentators and talk show hosts.

    "Don Imus was not an entertainer. He was not a comedian. Don Imus was one of the icons of American political and social commentary. Some of the nation's most prestigious journalists, governments officials and political candidates regularly appeared in his radio show, which was also simulcast by MSNBC," NAAJA members said.

    "The unethical behavior and racist comments of Don Imus should not be diluted in a larger discussion of whether or not African American entertainers engage in similar rhetoric. However, Don Imus is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of mainstream journalists, government leaders and candidates who engage in racist rhetoric and that goes far beyond the African American community to include Asians, Jews and Arabs. That Don Imus has been permitted to remain in the main stream media unchallenged for so long is a testament to the challenges still facing mainstream American journalism, government and political life in America."

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