“Journalism is a Public Service, First and Foremost.”

An Interview with Award-Winning Journalist & Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office, Sherine Tadros.

By Aruna Dutt and Rees Dabbs

Sherine Tadros (left) at Islamic Relief Canada Event in London, Canada. September 14, 2018. Credit: Aruna Dutt

London, Canada, Sept 16, 2018 (Global Action Magazine)Global Action had the opportunity to ask Sherine Tadros about international reporting and her advice for aspiring journalists at an event hosted by Islamic Relief Canada on Friday night.

During the Israel–Gaza 2008–2009 conflict, Sherine Tadros and her Al Jazeera English colleague Ayman Mohyeldin were the only foreign journalists reporting from inside Gaza. Tadros also covered the 2011 Egyptian revolution, and the uprisings in Libya and Yemen. She now works as the Head of the New York Office of Amnesty International at the United Nations.


How difficult is it for journalists and human rights workers to enter Gaza?

It is impossible for anyone to go into Gaza without Israeli permission. If you are an accredited journalist from an organization that the Israeli press office recognizes, you can get in after being vetted.

But sometimes, this is not the case. In 2008 & 2009, when Israel and Egypt completely closed their borders, it was impossible to get into the Gaza strip and report from there. The only reason I was there was because I was in Gaza before the conflict started.

Although this is the case for journalists, there are many more restrictions on human rights workers. Whether it is Gaza, Yemen or Syria, unfortunately we often have to report from the outside because of these restrictions.


How can journalists help Human Rights workers do their job?

Aspiring journalists should focus on telling the story. It is our job as human rights workers to change policy, but it is your job to reveal to everyone what is going on so that they can be awakened and enlightened.

My advice is to be really fair in your reporting. Say when projectiles and rockets have landed in Israel and when there are upset, hurt, injured and killed Israeli citizens. Be honest about what is going on inside of Gaza strip, and what international law says about what is going on.

By reporting fairly, being very thorough, and just doing your job properly – you are helping everyone, including us human rights people.


What advice would you give journalists who aspire to be international correspondents?

Usually, the only way to do this very hard work is to work in a newsroom first, gather the skills and the knowledge, and at some point, you will be allowed in. You will have your opportunity.

As a Foreign Correspondent, I went out there wanting to cover the Middle East, and unfortunately that meant de-facto I was a conflict reporter.

Always stay true to the story. Don’t let your ego and yourself and your ambition get ahead of what you’re really doing. It is a public service, first and foremost. It is not for you, or to win awards. It is such an important job, and you are so privileged to be in those places, getting those stories. As a journalist, sometimes witnessing the worst moment of someone’s life is such a privileged position that you have to do that justice.

If you stay true to that, you will do a great job and I have no doubt you will make it.

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