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tv   Zahra Hankir Our Women on the Ground  CSPAN  September 2, 2019 8:30am-9:31am EDT

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>> for more information about upcoming fairs and festivals and watch our previous festival coverage click the book there's that on our website at booktv.org. [inaudible conversations] >> good evening, everyone. i'm kortney, a a bookseller here at politics and prose at union market, and on that of our owners and the staff i would like to welcome you to tonight event. if this is your first time with us, we'd love for you to grab a calendar over by a register which shows our event schedule for the rest of august, both at this locatione and it are other locations in kent. you could also go to our website, politics-prose.com to
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see what else is on deck for the coming months. before we begin we ask that anyone silences their cell phones so that there's no unwanted distractions during the talk and subsequent q&a. during the q&a portion we have a handheld microphone to pass around. plus when recording tonight event and it's important to your questions on the audio. after the talk to be a signing in this room. if you already purchased the book we have many copies for sale behind the registers. and now i'm delighted to introduce the knights guests, zahra , zahra hankir, a lebanese british journalist who writes about the intersection of politics, culture and society in the middle east. she is also the editor of the essay collection she's here to present tonight, "our women on the ground: arab women reporting from the arab world." as the editor, she provides a far too rare platform for arab female journalist to share in
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their own words, their expenses reporting in the middle east. the 19 essays in this collection are at turns chilly, harrowing, and darkly humorous. all are enlighteningor providing insight into the unique challengeses these women face while reporting as will the unique advantages. cnn chief international anchor christian amanpour writes in the collection for, women's voices are crucial to gaining a full understanding of a story. without the female perspectives, the full picture simply cannot be painted, and oftene particularly in the middle east and the arab world, female protagonists can be given a voice only by other women. with our women on the ground where given the opportunity to do with these women have experienced and would all benefit from a fuller picture. tonight hankir is joined with contributor and a lamp, national security reporter covering extremism for npr.
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please join in welcoming them to politics and prose. [applause] >> thank you so much for the introduction thank you everyone for coming out to me. such a great t turnout and it'sa good to see so many friends and familiar faces. and i'm so glad to be in conversation with anna today, actually the first time iac goto meet and even though we've been working closely together for months now. her essay is a opening essay in this collection and that's for a very specific reason. the way she framed as it was really quite pitiful because essentially whatan she does, ths is the analyzing to work right in front of your eyes, is she shares her own expenses of covering iraq memory her time there i speak about the friendship she formed as importance of e having the clost to the women that she developed those friendships withh them wee not necessarily always friendships can special relationships also.
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i want to speak a little bit about how you felt when i first approached you topr contribute o this collection, and why he decided to go this ankle and now specifically you decided to do that. >> share. thanks everyone for coming out and it's actually if we hear in the bookstore surrounded by books i would be remiss if i did mention the passing today of -- huge, huge influence on my worldview and my sense of literary canon is an the possibilities of language. there p is a through line betwen reading her work and doing this kind of reporting. and so i think first when i first approached it was like oh my god, i already have three stores i'm working on. what am i going to do? there's a reported anxiety. the really it's the projects i believe in wholeheartedly. i would seey my colleagues in te middle east on the beat and is a
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sisterhood that forms when you're doing this kind of work, and i would hear their stories and see the lies and see a passionate they were. and i knowes that only a fractin of that ever makes it into print or on air, and so i thought this was a hugely valuable way to contribute all the stuff that doesn't make it out of our notebooks sometimes. >> you open by saying you are often asked what it is like to be a woman over there. and you say in a very clever way, some french reply to that, well, i've never been to estimate some not sure i can compare. i felt that was such a great way to open your chapter because it also throws into question the premise of the entire book is i decided to go with women, specifically, why not a local journalist or just journalist in general covering the arab world.
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i want to take this conversation a bit further and ask you, did you feel that you had advantages as the woman on the field and iraq, and also whether disadvantages? and if you could maybe recount one or two of those. >> sure. my problem with the question, what's it like to be a woman over there, is that it's just weighed down with so much assumption and presumption here and so because i want to say once you are oppressed, that's the rest of it. how did you ever do your job under that repression? and honestly it was the flipside was true. in most places with very few exceptions it was nothing but a benefit because i can generally do everything my male colleagues were doing. but then i had access to in some conservative society a whole half of the population, more in some cases, that my male
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colleagues had very little access or had to work harder. i could go get my nails done at the salon and hear what was on the minds of iraqi women. i could bewo in the kitchens ani was in i the women's quarters ad women's tents at funerals and i could go sit with them in and hit with the tribal council is saying. i felt that there was nothing but alt benefit. even when there was those, there were those encounters where i could help iel could tell some f wasn't taking me seriously because i was i a woman. on one of my first days at work as your chief and iraq i came back to my bureau and fun something taped to my door the said fisher-price, my first euro. kind of hazing me about my age. there is age and gender and all but wrapped up into it, but even when i did find men being hostile or whatever, generally i could still twisted to to my
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advantage because it came from underestimating what we could do. my very first translator and died in iraq with the woman, she still a lie, very, very close to be. but she was eight months pregnant, and so you can imagine the pair of us just like bling around, we'd like to talk about the insurgency. in 108 degreeses weather. people would say look at these low ladies who want to come talk about the insurgency. will tell you about it. you want to meet them? sure. as a result me and the nine-month pregnant iraq you one broke one of the first stories, one of the first interviews with the foreign insurgents. >> in terms of disadvantages, i was wondering if you feel that you have experienced similar disadvantages to maybe local women obviously i'd like to get into that in a moment. you have a dual identity so you're both arab and jew or a
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western as well, and i can relate. i also have a foot in the western world and a foot in the arab world. i wonder if you a a think that l identity protected you from some disadvantages fromm other women tranthree sure, absolutely. more than dual identity. i have dual citizenship so i could choose which passport to use that date. i could use how and when to present myself. yes, i knew that no matter how bad things get in iraq, i had a magical passport that could spirit me away. the 26, 27 million iraqis could not. to make sure people, we were not working people nonstop and this is their life. it was for many reporters it was a hardship post. it was a 24/7/365 job for our
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iraq he colleagues so i was really cognizant of that. in terms of being a woman, yes. i mean, in some ways that were similar because my background. they see my name. they know i'm muslim. they expected a certain standard of behavior, that i think they did not expect from other americans who were not of that background. so i got some of it, but i didn't have to answer to a big extended family or to a tribe. so yes, there was an element to i definitely didn't have to face all that stuff. my family is bad enough. >> and just a little bit more on that identity issue. i intentionally in this collection included women like hannah who are dual nationalities edited it is because i feel very strongly that's part of the story of the arab world, where you have a
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huge diaspora living outside of the arab world. many of them are forced out of the arab world or live in exile, others have families who fled conflicts when they were younger and sof on. and i wonder to what extent you arab identity you feel is strong, ortr north african, i kw their major for ways to frame it, to what extent you feel it informed your career in any way. obviously you chose to go there and working in the east at various points, but do you feel it approached, sorry, it affected your approach to various stores? d fila continues y to affect yor career today?or for those of you who don't know, and as a superstar. at npr and she covered extremism in america. >> it's been a very busy week. i'm just wondering -- i think anytime you have the experience of growing up in a western
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society, you are attuned to that kind of thing. and so when he went to baghdad as a very young bureau chief, i didn't want, i'm just noticing how some correspondence with staff the fingers or say bring me this, bring me that. it felt like colonial and icky and i just knew i didn't want that kind of bureau. i think probably the first baghdad bureau chief to institute that working hours, paid days off, vacations. after a really long string of car bombs i would bring in a masseuse for the staff. i would really try to be attuned to the fact that the local staff are our eyes and ears. they do it's us alive, the once you know the story better than we'll ever hope to know it. and so if you don't appreciate that, it'sat not only not the decent thing to do,nl it's just- in terms of trying to build a working newsroom that can
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accurately and competently cover a big moving dangers story like iraq. my identity plate intoo that because i was attuned to the kind of -- there's no second tier. if i write in an armored car, you write in an armored car. i didn't like the hierarchy of my filing is on a story and you you've done just as much reporting and translate the work on it, you're going to have a co-byline with me. that's something i'm very glad to see changing in the industry. i think it took people of color working their way in and building up that kind of culture, changing the culture to one of more equitable distribution of credit and good stories. >> i want to take meaning many steps backwards hereak in lieu f your member, which we're all hoping for onech day. can you tell us a bit about why he chose to become a journalist
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and how you feel your career as developed in terms of ambitions you initially had? >> sure. well, i wanted to be a novelist or something, but -- i think also, i spent my childhood going back and forth between oklahoma where my momth is from and the region my data some, africa. he worked in saudi arabia and much a golf lens of there. i just remember my dad picking up newspapers from the region and saying very specific test the boys, kidsca can the kingdom and another hospital. he clearly didn't see this as anything other than what it was, which was a multitude for the government. when i a get older and would to journalism school, university of
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oklahoma i worked at the paper there. i saw this didn't have to t be that way. and actually come into contact with writers like toni morrison, started to read writers like him and the late anthony -- had a beautiful and heartbreaking essay in here. so getting to see that come and actually it doesn't, there is a place for me here. there's a need for me. there's a need for this kind of thing, and going back to iraq he women and going over there as a young bureau chief, itou kind of becomes quickly apparent when you're in a place like iraq that things were not going well. we probably were not going to leave behind really great working institutions, and so what can i do? i could try to build up a newsroom that was going to help coverage of iraq when inevitably we go, because that's what we
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do. we, observe and we go. i felt a responsibility to leave something behind. >> and looking at how your career has progressed, your beat today assassinating obviously and i'm just curious how you feel about the transition, heidi transitioned from that sortg, of essentially was more to what you're covering today. >> you know, in preparation for the publication date today and knowing ayes to talk to, i went back and was flipping to the essays and read it closely. and i was thinking at this moment of conflict and division here in theen united states, tht i was like my gosh, this reads like a cautionary tale. because these are women telling the story of what happens when schisms and society reach the national and conflict. it was actually terrifying to read it again after a week like
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we've had in this country. so i do hope that people see that we will -- this will lead to civil war. wewo just need to have our civil war and get it over with. i hear things like that. i spent time researching america militias. just last summer i met some militia members in michigan, and my editor at the time i was at buzzfeed, had to call me and say okay, i'm going to call you at a certain time, i'm going to ask how your cold is. and if you say yes, i'm fine. andy doucette unkindest sick, that means we will get you out. and i thought to myself, this is the security protocol i use for anything insurgence and iraq, you know? here i am in cadillac michigan. like how bizarre is that? so i do see there are some
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important lessons to learn from when conflict is allowed to fester and spiral. >> for sure. i would like to talk a little bit about your experience actually writing the chapter itself. was it difficult for you? it feels so vivid. it's like those memories happen to you yesterday. it's incredible to read and ashes wonder what the writing process for you was like. i remember that you met your deadline. me, you just come you are i think one ofe the very few that didn't push the deadline. >> met editor would be like, what have you got that i haven't? >> i'm just curious, did it, naturally? was it a a painful process, emotional? >> it was. my goal today is get through without crying. it's very hard to dredges this stuffg. up. it's more than a store to me. these are people i've worked
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with, lived with. you're in a curfew oftentimes. you are stuck with each other, if you missed the time to go home you are stuck with your colleagues all night. you're working really close quarters. r it's an unnatural and vibrant to be a war zone. and so to remember that and remember what it felt, just this morning i was reading and i completely forgot i concluded -- included in there that horrible looking that i mentioned called is that the one? basically this is something that my iraqis frank and i made up in traffic because there were long traffic snarls in baghdad. it was a time there were loads of car bombings just all the time, and so we would be stuck in traffic and we made up again called is thatnd the one? we would look at cars and that one looks heavy. deadly explosives, that's the one, that's the one. no, noha look at the truck.
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that what has unmarked crates on the back, that's the one. that's the one that's going to blow us up. that's how we amuse ourselves in traffic. so it was, you know, now we can kind of laugh about it because it is, it's a gallows humor that emerges in in a place like tha. so yes, reliving some of that with distance was painful but it's also like we got through. and, of course, i mourn for all the friends, 13 friends of mine did not make it through. many more sense in syria, libya and other places. so i feel very grateful to been around to write those memories but yes, there were definitely tears zahra hankir a theme that runs to many of the chapters in this book and in particular in the section entitled crossfire which i think you also could've section int particular is a double entendre for people were kind of stuck between two identities or have covered war comics prince war
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and the women in that section and i'm not sure if you really at all but they feel very guilty about having access to the regiy they do and you mention a sport which is a huge thing. they are able to leave, they will be working for major media outlets which give themm protections that locals don't have it they alsoo feel the born -- there were not born into conflict in the way that for example, the friends might've been. i think that guilt really was quite evident for some of the essays. i wonder if you experienced similar feelings of guilt about your career. you get touched on it a little bit, i feel also you were acute of the privileges you have that you wanted to help others in a way that maybe people who did not have that awareness wouldn't have. i was wondering if you experienced that in various ways over the years. >> guilt? absolutely. every time, you know.
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six weeks on, two weeks on. when six weeks up, i can't wait until i'm in jordan, i can swim and read, you know? and then i would wave goodbye and i would see my iraqis colleagues all liked up, goodbye. i i get to go and they don't. that was absolutely, it was shattering. so much so in fact, si counselor for a while for. there was a time when i would never say that because of the stigma. women and war, they can't hack it. you get the stereotypes. it's very important to seek care and attention. and those who don't, often because it isn't there and it is culturally not available for some reason. and i remember you had to think of it you were there as a visitor, and you don't have the support networks that they have to you finish your stories and you go to a dark dingy hotel
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room. they go home to their families and the kids and their loved ones and so there is a a builtn support network for them that you i don't have as an outsider. so that mitigated somewhat but, of course, like the best you can do that i found the best way to mitigate that guilt is just take your platform and using the best you can to make sure you are not a voice for the voiceless, you're actually passing a mic. >> absolutely. i think we're coming close to the end. still a few minutes. i was wondering if you had a particular story that you covered in iraq that moved you so much that you still think of the characters may be? i i know it's a difficult. >> everyone. there's so many. and at differentt stages. but really i remember they see in 2004 when i was locked into basically in a shrine in the
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shine there with the army fighters. with people, other reporters embedded on the other side with the american forces. we were having thousand pound bombs dropped on us that night. it was so hot. there was no electricity, so the shrines, there's act place where you do the evolutions before proper i would go in there and iraqi women tommyt take off your new job and you soak in underwater and you put it right back on soaking wet. that was the antidote to be. while was into doing that, i saw an older woman there, and for years have been ringing from these bombings and she's cleaner air within matchstick and she was crying. i said, don't cry, it's going to be okay. we're going to make it to the money. she's like i s no, it's not, i'm crying because i'm actually thinking of those american boys. don't think mothers that want them home?
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>> incredible. >> so anytime i could capture that humanity and people trying to keep the humanity in check on the margins of this all-encompassing war they can swallow you up, those are the moments i looked for and those of the moments that stick with the. >> thank you so much. how much did you cry. >> that's a beautiful anecdote one of many in her chapter. i just want to ask one final question and it's something you also mentioned in i the chapter, is the actually you faced kind of, i don't want to say, actually made you can categorize it for me. your editors derided you for covering hit stories what was that, poor iraqis people stories?
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>> my editors are five euros. the resettlement in the press corps, they think covering a ar means covering the quote-unquote bang bang, and that's it. like where is the frontline, how many yards that moved today? i was much more interested in the sea changes those battles left behind and the civilian lives and societies and cultures, thousands and thousands of vehicles that their disrupting.eh nand so yeah, i did focus on what, so yeah, a colleague, the antidote in the book is a collie, a male colleague told me what are you working on? i told him. it was about civilians like most of my reporting to he was like hannah and her pips, for an iraqi people story i hope they are not pips. i hope they are iraqis people stories because i really tried to push through the stereotypes, to make it, to make iraqis,
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especially on iraqi women come alive in all of their dimensions with her humor and wisdom and sometimes unknowing, all the things that make us human. just wanted to try to capture that. and for a people that are sounding too seen in one dimension. >> and you also capture that beautifully in the chapter, all the women come to life in the chapter. i think that's a good segue, if anyone has any questions, just raise your s hand and raise it high so i i can see you. there we go. >> thank you so much for coming. i've done both of these guys for more than a decade. i had a question of both of you actually. something we've seen a lot lately, you know, speaking on my own experiences of being abroad, you have a real difficult time for a lot of foreign correspondence to tell stories that don't have a hook with the
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trump administration. what's your advice to some of them as far as, you know, stories that were lacking in what is the hunger here, what is the appetite? and even you start to touch upon it in terms of like breaking stereotypes. what are the stories you felt broke through at a time where war was dominating the headlines and iraq and other places? answer thegoing to question. i'm just going to give a huge shout out to the thing. she's in the intelligence section in this book, would have inspirations book. she was the bureau chief, many of you know work and she wrote a gorgeous essay which i put up on my blog. it was -- >> it was about food. >> but a beautiful insight into life and iraq and are so pleased to see here today, vivian. but i will leave the answer to
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hannah. >> thanks for leaving the hard part. i actually have no in the for people on the foreign correspondent beat right now, especially the middle east. it does, it's very hard. i for the same frustration. what does it take to break through? and when it does breakthrough, something really horribly tragic like, b and even that feels fleeting. but i don't know. i just have to believe that a good story is a good story. i remember when war fatigue set in as it did, and i covered baghdad often on for a decade. and yeah,ad some point it feels formulaic. a powerful car bomb ripped through iraq today kelly three. becomes the formula. so i would just try not to let myself fall into the formula, and how can we elevate that
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story with the one way we can move in. what about, this is something i heard hank stewart from the "washington post" when i was a young college student, aspiring journalist, , he came to our cls and he said, you know, no matter how big and hard the story is, you can always find universal things in it. ..
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>> i'm wondering if you can tell us a little bit. i know a lot of authors already knew each other, but it you could talk about the camaraderie that was built between the journalists. if you have plans after the book to kind of continue the sisterhood that developed and where do you hope to take it from here? >> i love this question. it's a huge -- i mean, the sister hood is expanding. we're a tight knit group. i think we all know each other and we follow each other on twitter and a lot of us haven't -- it's women supporting women. it's fantastic. i didn't know them personally, but were in the circles or admired their work for years. the process for putting it together for me was actually the most challenging part because there were so many
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incredible arab women doing such incredible women. arab and north african and middle eastern women doing amazing work. it was so hard for me to go to 90 people in the book, more, and i had to limit that to enough for one book. so i literally had to think of the ages of the women, the backgrounds of the women, the type of journalism they were doing. their -- the countries they come from, there were just so many things to take into consideration and it was painful at certain points to say, okay, i have to exclude this person because they're also lebanese. there were many things to take into consideration, so-- yes, and that was going to-- that was going to be my next-- i think there's more work to be done in this space and whether it's going to be a book. i don't think i'm going to add another at least in the next two years, but the format is up
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for debate, but i'm hoping to do something else in this space that will continue to celebrate arab women journalists, arab women in general, northeast africa, a bit of a mouthful. >> were you surprised by anything that came out. this is the first time we're meeting today and i feel i've poured out my heart to you. and you've seen all of them in all of their forms and how did it evolve for you? >> obviously, a member of the sister hood. we've never met before today and i felt i knew her very well. and i was surprised to which the extent the authors were honest and intimate in these essays. it's not that i didn't expect them to right honestly, it was more that they shared their struggles in such a harrowing way that i found myself
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frequently in tears when i was editing the book and also, there were a couple of authors who, they were experience trauma themselves. they were on the field, i'm looking two place,s, they were on the field and not quite ready to articulate the trauma or decide what story to tell and i had to then help them through that process without coaching them to tell me one thing or another or telling them please open up to me in this way. it was a delicate balance and all of the authors were able to push through whatever barriers they had and write openly and honestly about their deepest struggles. one of the essays that comes to mind, you mentioned her, and it's such a raw and honest account of grief and of loss and it also reflects a state of the arab world today. this isn't an uplifting book. it's not a beach read, but there are moments of hope and
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resilience and dark humor throughout, but i was surprised by certain details that just shook me. there is another detail, a palestinian journalist, she says at some point that she had been covering the war and she had to help a mother who had lost her child grieve and the way she described it, i don't want to do that myself, i hope you read the chapter and the way she described it was just so harrowing. and there's another piece where she's a syrian journalist and she's talking how this is day-to-day life for syrians and to a certain extent, many people start to feel desensitized by the tragedy and she sees blood on her car. she'd parked her car next to a school and there had been a bombing and she started wiped the blood off her car and she
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called her friend and said what are we having for lunch today. and i was surprised, the bravery, the way the women were sharing the details and how i reacted to them. i cried a lot when i was both editing and then reading and rereading and rereading. i hope that answers your question. >> thank you so much for this honest and wonderful talk that actually drives me further into the book and into reading other journalists experience. i want to draw on the experience of the editor. was there something you had a hard time adding to the book, that you wanted in the book, but couldn't find it? was there difficulty-- were there some subjects you thought were redundant and kind of became a thaem --
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theme across the board and were not mentioned at all? i don't know if this is a really weird question, but it's something that i'm curious about. >> no, it's not a weird question at all. it's something that weighed on me for a while because i was constantly thinking am i excluding something, am i excluding a theme? in editing this book i wanted to allow the women to tell their own stories without directing them in one way or another, and i didn't progeny themes on to them. there are some things that are unavoidable, patriarchy war, but i never said to the woman how about you write about this or we go this angle because that would betray the premise of the book, a space for the women to tell their own stories. and i think that shatters worse, because the stories are unique and the writing is well, and the delivery of the stories are so unique, i don't feel there are redundancy, even though there's a clear theme.
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resilience is a theme, remembrance is a theme, which is your chapter. exile is a theme, transition is a theme and all of the themes are within a different context, so there are different things that pop up, for example, women journalists have started or just journalists in general have relied on skype and that came up a lot, women who had to fight their families to become journalists, that came up. but it never felt redundant because the stories themselves are so unique. it's interesting, when we first pitched the book to publishers, one who rejected the book said these stories are going to be redundant at some point. and to me that betrayed what we were going to do. every story is unique.
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the arab world is so rich even if you have the stories, every story is unique. maybe there's something missing, but by virtue of the fact i couldn't include more women, i couldn't include everybody's stories. >> oh, i have two questions,,one is, having myself grown in a male dominated environment, professional environment, i saw women behaving like men to succeed. i hope you don't have to do that to continue your stories as a woman. do you feel you have to do that now? and a totally unrelated question, i was struck was your comment about the civil war and here, and i remember getting up
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and my meeting and saying, i feel the civil war in my bones coming and this was three years ago. having left lebanon because of civil war and syria because of the civil war, it struck me here. so i would like to elaborate you on what are the parallels and what can you do to alert the people and what can we do to alert the people. >> so i'm a journalist, i can't really give prescriptions on that kind of thing except to say from my reporting and what that shows is that, i mean, i just think that people shouldn't dismiss it as impossible here or in europe or anywhere. we have had a bloody civil war here and in some ways we're still fighting the echoes of it. i think on the civil war, don't
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rule it out as impossible. it's not impossible because it takes certain fault lines and a trigger, and we don't know when that comes, right? and it might not be. and i hope, i hope it's wrong, that it's never born out, right? but to think that it's impossible, i think, is a mistake and even if it's not like this-- a big prolonged 15-year war like in lebanon, that we could see or we're starting to see more violence, low level violence, and you know, that's -- i cover extremism. so i'm actually-- i try to really put it in check with everything else that's going on. because i see it in a myopic way so it's terrifying. my gosh, we're on the brink. when we pan out. there are a lot of people trying to heal the rift in this
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country. god speed to them. as far as being, acting like a man. i think that there was a -- who knows what the terms were. i think there's pressure, for example, if i was embedded with american forces, i made sure i'm going to carry my own bags, i'm going to hop up in the tank and even i'm short, into the armored vehicle, i don't need your assistance. there were certain things, i'm going to hold my own and definitely, i don't want them to see i'm the weak damsel in distress and i can't do my own stuff. that's the only kind of extent of it. and otherwise, i was in iraq for the first-- i was what, five months pregnant when my doctor in cairo said come back or i'm dropping you as a patient. and so to see the difference
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there, that was the only -- that was the time i got there, and really felt a restriction because i was a woman from my reporting and that was from the american side because i tried to go to mosul on a black hawk or apache or whatever it is, and i showed up at the air strip with a belly out to here, no, ma'am, you're not getting on this bird. and if anything happened and we take fire you're going to put our medics in a bad situation and the women in the press corps really rallied around me and supported me and we took it all the way up to, you know, senior officers. they ruled against us, i was not allowed to make the trips after i was pregnant, but it was nice to see, but there were supporters there and i remember specifically, one woman telling me, i said, wow, thanks so much for your activism on this, you don't need to do this and she said one day it will be me and i want to be able to be
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pregnant in a war zone and do my job. >> and also about the-- [inaudible] >> right. and everyone has to do an element of that, but i take the philosophy of the late anthony shadid, whenever he was asked if he was a war correspondent he would bristle at that title. he said i'm a reporter and war happens to be the back drop in this case, but i'm looking for human stories and that really resonated with me. i'm not someone who goes around and says i'm a war correspondent. i think that's kind of tired and also, a small way to look at a conflict that had so many far-reaching effects for there and for here. >> hi.
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>> hi. >> remember, this is a sister hood. >> yeah, we know each other on-line, but great that we met. i wanted to ask about rejection, actually, since i'm sure you've had this project for a while now. how did it feel to try to advocate for women's stories, but i'm sure you got rejections and you mentioned one, a fellow writer here is trying to navigate that route, too. so. >> yeah, i took rejection pretty hard. i take every rejection hard. i'm not a graceful person when it comes to rejection. you have to have really thick skin. if you have something that you're passionate about, i don't want to sound lofty, but it's something you have to be committed to and take the feedback and listen to it and think about how you might be able to reframe whatever you're proposing in a way that's
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consistent with your own vision. i had a couple of people suggest completely different visions for this book, who i chose to then not work with because i didn't feel it was compatible with what i wanted to do and i felt i would be compromising too much in terms much my own vision, i believe there was appetite for these voices. i knew there were voice-- appetite for the voices and who was pitching to didn't understand the worlds the way i do from where i'm sitting. from this vantage point i felt i will find someone who shares this vision or believes these voices need to be amplified. and i found a person, an agent that worked with me, jessica, who was amazing. and i just went for it and i started taking whatever rejection then came from publishers very seriously. i took it hard, but i took the
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feedback seriously. and you might get 100 rejections, but all you need is one yes. i've heard this used before. >> it's not my own phrase, but that's really all that matters. you just need to be patient, stick to the vision, find people who will help you. and i think that's really important. reach out to people for help whatever you can who understand the industry or the genre whatever you're hoping to put together. >> i have to say i was pleasantry surprised by the reception and maybe, yeah, i guess i didn't fully see there was a hunger for those kinds of voices and it's been reassuring to see that because you know, my over arching point of my essay or whole reason i wanted to see this, is to reframe how we think of women's issues and
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how we think of women this that region, it's beyond a moral thing to say, i mean, yes, there's a moral argument and part of that is to cover them and they deserve their voices heard and there's that argument, but if you just take that away and look at strictly from the craft of journalism, it's bad, lazy journalism to leave out half a population, to not have those who can't interview, who know the language, the culture, the religion the history and i think that's journalistic malpractice to leave out this huge chunk of the population. here we are liberating the voices of these women, no, we're just doing our jobs. >> yeah, i tend to say and i completely agree with you. i get really, i get annoyed when people say we are giving voices to people. the voices are there, hey, we
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want to amplify the voices. i actually think it's-- people are frustrated now with the idea that correspondents who are not from the regions which they write about command the narrative on the region. and what i try to advocate is inclusivity. we need to have pluralsy to have the detail, the intimacy not necessarily in a way that will mean their work is biased, no, but to provide that understanding of a story in a way that perhaps someone who is not familiar with the culture in the same way can. and i think it's important to recognize that people are frustrated with the fact that this narrative has been dominated for so long. i think that there have been changes. i mean, this year, as we know, the pulitzer prize was awarded
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to egyptian women and they're starting to gain recognition and i think more needs to be done and locals need to be protected and treated as the same at their western counterparts. news rooms should be more diverse. so, i think that perhaps that that gap in the narrative. people are so frustrated by the moment they kind of saw that, oh, finally, at least there's something. like there's a book saying let's do something different. let's hear these voices instead. and i think it's a timing thing. you know, the trump administration has helped a little bit with the idea that we need to hear more minority voices, i think. >> there's a -- i see them in the many roux, cannot shout them out, but the international women's media, i'm on the board. i was not many, many moons go when they gave six iraqi women
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from the-- they gave them collectively the courage in journalism award. for me when people say what story are you most proudest of when you look back, it's actually not a story, it's watching six women who had very little journalistic experience come into their own, be brilliant writers, reporters, and come from our news room and win this incredible honor. angelina jolie and meg ryan gave it to them and the speech that gave upon accepting it, there's a bit of it in the essay, but i mean, that was -- that's what it's all about for me,. >> are we good? no? no? >> hi. >> hi. >> thank you so much for this. does anything, like anything give you hope? i know you said you were crying
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during the book. [laughter] >> and i love the positive note, so-- >> i do really want to give many of the women in this book credit for their resilience and their strength and it's very -- they say that they find hope in the women that they cover, i personally am inspired and find hope in them. i became attached to so many of the women i never met because of their stress and resilience. i was inspired by them. i feel that even though many of these women were writing from the field or they were writing in countries that there was war surrounding them or in the aftermath with those wars. they still felt hopeful for their own futures and they felt that they were obliged to continue with their professions because that's what they have to do. that's their job and a photo journalist in this book, she says, i actually would love to
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read the last sentence in her essay. yes, found it. so she -- committed to really trying to take photographs of pockets of hope in yemen as opposed to, for example, pictures of destruction and malnutrition and she says, whenever i think of giving up, i have indeed thought of giving up. i remember i cannot because many girls are relying on me to show the world what fighting spirits they are. and that's such a moving sentence for me. it's such an honest sentence and we need to continue having that hope because we need to pass it off to the next generation. it's very lofty again, but when you're dealing with tragedy in a mass scale you must have people who are committed to continuing to tell the stories and to continuing working towards good and rebuilding and
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that really comes through. i actually think throughout the book and not just in that section, resilience. thank you for asking that. >> do you have any hope about anything? >>. [laughter] >> i cover extremism. i'm --. >> no, i actually almost hopeful on a number of fronts. one is that, yes, i keep my ideas on twitter open for sources, but partly because i get students and aspiring journalists every week writing to me and saying, oh, i can't wait to do this, how did you get into that? what advice do you have for me? would you read my clips? and if all the things that i did to shadid and people that i admired and it's really cool to see. but now there are so many more and even looking in this woman, i know people who are doing this kind of work and that's very hopeful. and then one small quota to one of the women i mention in
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passing in the story, but one good iraqi friend of mine. i won't identify her because i'm not sure if she's comfortable with it. we were in baghdad together and we were young and single and didn't have kid and we used to love-- she had this beautiful latticework, this woodwork on some of the old house, you know, when iraq is stable we will buy twin houses on the tigress and fishing in the back yard and besties forever. of course then i get sent to cairo, she goes into exile because she was forcibly removed from her home and after an eight-year, i think it was eight years of trying to get resettled somewhere safe she landed in sienna, virginia, right down the street. so now, we joke and spend the weekends together sometimes and
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we have the grilled dinners and we said, we got the river wrong. it was the potomac. so, we tried to rebuild where we are. yeah. . >> on that note, why don't we give another round of applause for hannah. [applaus [applause] >> so if we could ask for everybody to sit tight for a moment. we're going to prepare the signing area for the signing and this would be a good chance if you haven't gotten your book to grab a copy at our register, just, if you're ready to get your book signed, stay put while we move some stuff around and thank you for attending. [inaudible conversations] >> book tv recently visited the university of louisville in kentucky to hear senate majority leader mitch mcconnell talk about senators from kentucky with the author.
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and in this segment he describes the role of the majority leader. >> the power of the majority leader to decide for the other 99 what we're going to do and all of you remember a decision i made during the 2016 not to fill the supreme court vacancy when justice scalia passed away. but what are you going to do, bill are you going to take up, what nomination are you going to go forward with and that started when john garner, vice-president under roosevelt decided the following, that the majority leader would have prior recognition, the first one to be recognized. the minority leader would have second recognition, and so, as
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pointing out here, the prior recognition right is what became the power to set the agenda, which is the only real power the majority leader has. after that it's a free-for-all, i am ooh, you know. getting the outcome you want is frequently extremely challenges, but at least you can decide what direction you're going to take over you have the big debate over whether you're going to get anywhere or not. >> barkley had minority leader and majority leader as have you. how would you characterize the difference between minority leader, majority leader, what are the different roles and ability to influence things. if you're a football fan, it's a difference of being the offensive coordinator and the defensive coordinator. easier to score on offense because you kind of get to call the plays. if you're on defense, it's much harder to score and you're in a reactive mode. what are we going to support
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and what are we going to oppose. contrary to what a lot of you may think, there are plenty of things we do together. but the media being the way it is, if you have a bipartisan compromise to do something important, it makes almost no news at all. it's like dropping a pebble in the ocean. for example, i think the biggest piece of legislation we've passed the last two years of president obama, when i was majority leader of the senate was a bill called the 21st century bill, an anti-age funding. if you didn't know about that, it's not your fault. you get the drift. i mean, it just-- we do do a lot together and it's significant. largely ignored. so most people only see the controversy, it's the things that we disagree on. mr. there are plenty of those, there's no short of controversial. >> to watch the rest of this
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interview go to our website and type in roy brownell or rich mcconnell's name in the top of the page. >> my recent book is cyber war wars. you're watching book tv. >> our host again this morning is christa tip et, host of a public radio company and it will be broadcast on the show at a later date. in addition to her radio work she's the on-being project. curator of the civil project and best selling author "becoming wise, inquiry into the mystery and art of living." join me is amani perry, the hughesog

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