On Monday, May 8th, New York Times columnist Souad Mekhennet spoke to students about her experience working in the Middle East over lunch. A German reporter of Turkish and Moroccan descent, Mekhennet has covered conflicts and terrorist groups in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. With recent events escalating in Syria, it was very interesting to listen to Mekhennet's opinions about a post-Arab Spring world.
Mekhennet discussed with students about her recent reporting in Bahrain, where her goal was to tell the stories of women and other minority groups. She wanted to investigate the silenced majority in the region and their thoughts on the recent protests. Bridget Golob '14, a student participant in the lunch, commented, "Getting to talk in an informal setting with Souad Mekhennet was fantastic. She shared a lot about her on-the-ground experiences, her thoughts about the future of women's rights and democratic values in the Middle East, and about her role as a reporter and not a biased observer."
Mekhennet noted that it was necessary to have a thick skin as a journalist, as she sometimes received opposition from her interviewees. Despite obstacles that women and Western journalists face in the Middle East, she says she is motivated by her readers and her duty to inform the world about different perspectives. Mekhennet believes that it is not her job to put personal preferences in support of a group in her articles, but rather to tell an unbiased story. As events in a post-Arab Spring world continue to unfold, you can be sure Mekhennet will at be the forefront of it.