Asmaa Al Hameli | January 22, 2013
I am enjoying that contentment you get when you accomplish a task. Finally, my first news article is finished!
I always complain how many people stay aloof from books here and spend a great amount of time talking about what “others” wear and do.
Last week, I pitched a piece on book readership in the UAE. As a new journalist, I was clueless on how to introduce the topic and make it flow well like other reporters already do.
I thought writing an article was easy just like we were taught in school: introduction, main points, conclusion and submit.
When I finished my first draft, my editor told me most of my statements were anecdotal and speculative. God bless those days when I was a student and used to send articles full of speculations. Things are different in journalism!
I was extremely excited when I started writing this piece because I have a great passion for reading and I want every Emirati to become a book lover in the future.
The real adventure started when I began calling authentic sources to shed some light on this topic with facts.
Some people responded to my calls and emails in the blink of an eye. Others were afraid to give me information because they thought I might write something that would harm their reputation.
I overheard some people saying some Arabs are difficult to deal with because they want things to work under their terms. Now that I have experienced it myself, I agree. I have no idea why some Arabs believe that giving a journalist useful information would damage their reputation.
One of the people I interviewed said: “Don’t write anything under my name, and by the way, everything (you are asking about) is mentioned in our website.” I felt stupid when I heard that. Obviously I would not have called if the website provided all the information. The conversation ended right after there because I could sense lack of interest from the other side.
The whole point of journalism is to file factual information, and if the source is not willing to help then I better find some else before its too late.
Nevertheless, I learned new lessons this week. First: High expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment, so I should be more moderate. Second: I must train myself to speak up politely rather then being silent when the source is impolite.