Don’t Call Me Resilient

The chilling effects of trying to report on the Israel-Gaza war

Episode Summary

Experts say mainstream media coverage of the war in Gaza is severely skewed -- with Palestinian voices getting stifled. They argue it privileges the perspectives of some journalists and not those of others.

Episode Notes

Many news organizations have reported on the Israel-Gaza war. However, many journalists have criticized those same media organizations for how they have covered the conflict, and have spoken out against what they say is a stifling of Palestinian voices and perspectives. In today's episode, Vinita talks to Sonya Fatah and Asmaa Malik, associate professors of journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University whose research focuses on newsroom culture, global reporting practices and equity in journalism. They argue that these press freedom concerns go far beyond Gaza.

Episode Transcription




Vinita Srivastava: Hi, everyone. It's Vinita. Before we get started today, I wanted to let you know about another podcast you might be interested in. Immigrantly is a weekly podcast that dares to deconstruct immigrant status. The podcast uses personal stories as a way to unravel the nuance and depth of the immigrant experience. It asks its guests what they think of and hope for America. Hosted by social entrepreneur and activist Saadia Khan, Immigrantly features a wide range of guests including Grammy winning singer Arooj Aftab, and Khaled Hosseini, award winning author of The Kite Runner. It also features me! That's right. I was a guest on last week's episode. So you're definitely going to want to check this podcast out. Find Immigrantly wherever you listen to podcasts.



Sonya Fatah: Anyone can commit an act of journalism. This idea that you could actually embrace all of the social media influencers and journalists who are on ground in Gaza reporting day to day crises at the risk of their own safety, uh, but instead of embracing them and instead of standing up and saying, this is a huge crisis and we are in support, there has been silence.



Vinita Srivastava: Motaz Azaiza, Hind Khoudary, and Bisan Owda are all Palestinian journalists who have reported on the war in Gaza. And although Azaiza has had to leave and is now reporting from afar, Odeh and Khoudary still remain in Gaza, providing vital information on the devastation Palestinians face every day. It's something that many Canadian journalists have been unable to do. That's because international journalists are not allowed into Gaza, except on controlled expeditions hosted by the Israeli Defense Forces. That makes Palestinian journalists a critical source of information. Yet most mainstream news outlets have not reshared their reporting.

And at the same time, many Western journalists have spoken out against unbalanced coverage when it comes to the Middle East. They've said that their newsrooms have pro Israeli stances, that Israeli narratives take precedence over Palestinian ones, and many have also said they personally feel censored in the newsroom.

These accusations bring up a lot of questions, and we have two experts with us today to help answer them. Sonya Fatah and Asmaa Malik are both associate professors of journalism at Toronto Metropolitan University. Their research focuses on newsroom culture, global reporting practices, and equity in journalism. And both have co authored an article detailing the chilling effects these pro Israeli stances have had on press freedoms, and how they impact the news we consume. 

Sonya and Asmaa, welcome.



Sonya Fatah: Thank you.

Asmaa Malik: Thank you so much for having us. 

Vinita Srivastava: I don't know if you guys got a chance to hear the recent interview on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and CNN's chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Clip: Journalists are not on the ground in Gaza. Well, re aey're journalists on the ground. They're being killed. You're right. You're right. I'm talking about independent Western journalists are not able to get there. 

Asmaa Malik: When I saw that clip, which was circulating quite widely a few days ago, it was shocking to hear someone of Amanpour's stature not acknowledge the murders of a hundred journalists in Gaza, and to hear her dismiss them and Jon Stewart, of course, is the comedian slash journalist, reminding her of all of these brave journalists who lost their lives and were targeted and murdered.

I think it's interesting that she says independent Western journalists. It's clearly code for this idea of objectivity that we've long been talking about in our classrooms, and it's also a discussion that's happening in newsrooms. So it's interesting who gets seen as a journalist and who doesn't, and that's really struck me.

Vinita Srivastava: So you're talking about those two words together, Western and independent, right? What do you think she means by independent? 

Asmaa Malik: Non Palestinian? Steven Thrasher wrote a piece looking at this interview, and he talked about how could Palestinian journalists as Palestinians experiencing what is happening, where would that "independence" come from when they are being starved, when their families are dying? What does this word actually supposed to hold? 

Vinita Srivastava: So independent equals objective is the idea?

Asmaa Malik: Yes.

Vinita Srivastava: Sonya, what difference do you think it would make if we had more Western journalists in Gaza? Do you think we would have different reporting? 

Sonya Fatah: I think it would make a difference certainly for Western publications, because Western publications tend to believe and center the reporting that comes from their own journalists in a way that they wouldn't- if they consider the person not independent. Also objectivity, if you take that a little bit deeper, is kind of code for colonial gaze. And if you think about journalism and international journalism in that way, I think you see a pattern across Western reporting that is exacerbated or highlighted in this current situation, but you could apply it in a million different situations and see that pattern being reflected.

In terms of Amanpour, it's not surprising that she said that because, first of all, she's CNN's chief voice on this, along with Wolf Blitzer, who's another interesting lead on coverage on Israel and Palestine, because Blitzer himself, He started his career working at Jerusalem Post, and then he was also working for an APAC connected news organization.

So there are all these interesting links that actually come into conflict with this idea of independence, but that question of objectivity and your capacity to be neutral, It's not applied equally. I think racialized journalists experience this all the time, where they're told that you're too close to something, so you can't report on it. You can't cover Black Lives Matter because you're Black and you're too close to it, you know? 

Vinita Srivastava: There's so much here. There's one thing that I want to talk about, which is the myth of objectivity. I mean, that should have been exploded, right? We've read Edward Said now, and he was writing in the 70s and the 80s, and then we had a whole conversation post 9/11, where the myth of objectivity was completely exploded. So how are we still here where we're talking about objectivity? 

Sonya Fatah: Yeah, I'm, I'm also surprised by it. Haven't we had this conversation before? Somehow that word keeps creeping back in and you hear it in J schools, you hear it in newsrooms, so it's almost like there's a split in the understanding of what is journalism and how should it be practiced.

Vinita Srivastava: I guess that's my other question is back to Amanpour. How much of what she was saying is like a knock against the idea of the citizen journalist? We have this idea of the citizen journalist versus those trained "Western traditional". 

Asmaa Malik: Sonya and I have been talking about the sheer numbers that social media brings to these stories in terms of the audiences of Hind Khoudary, Motaz Azaiza, and Bisan Owda, as you mentioned, they could only hope- mainstream media could only dream at this point of reaching those audiences. So I think that that is why these issues are also being raised. Let's not ignore the economic constraints. that are in our industry. So I think the bid for relevance, the bid for attention and audience is huge. And I also bemoan the loss of audiences and the impact of social media. But in this case, when we don't have other alternatives and, you know, the work of these journalists who have been in Gaza has been fueling so much of the social movements that we're seeing. And so I think that that's really powerful. So I think objectivity becomes the thing that journalism leans heavily on, as what makes it stand out from social media posts. But I think we need to question that idea of objectivity and we've been doing it for a long time. This is not exclusive to where we're at in this moment. The reason this keeps coming back is because there is this outward push to "diversify" newsrooms and bring in people with different perspectives. For example, the murder of the Muslim family in London. All these news organizations brought out their Muslim journalists to report from London at the memorial because they were able to talk to people, build trust, all of these things. But it was also done as a way to push against the narrative that Canada is being a racist place, right? If it's an opportune moment to correct a narrative, then yes, please come forward. But if we're challenging the narrative, then let's talk about objectivity. It feels like a wedge that comes out when you want to put people in their place.

Vinita Srivastava: The objectivity is the wedge. 

Asmaa Malik: Yeah. 

Vinita Srivastava: A lot of the voices that are critiquing journalists and journalism organizations, especially large media organizations, CNN, the New York Times, there's a massive critique that Palestinian voices and perspectives are being quashed. Why have these newsrooms prioritized Israeli narratives above Palestinian ones?

Asmaa Malik: I don't have the why except for it's been a prevailing narrative. This is not something that is new. It's a confluence of things. We can't ignore the role that mainstream news plays in creating the narratives, in maintaining narratives. And what is the interest of news organizations in keeping these narratives at the forefront of how people absorb the news. 

Vinita Srivastava: Let's leave the why for a minute and go to the how. How do you think these newsrooms are able to conduct journalism in this way? How do they maintain this order? 

Sonya Fatah: You were talking about Amanpour and this kind of desire to protect the working journalist from the citizen journalist. I don't think you used that language, but that's kind of how I see it. Journalism is an interesting field. There's no bar, you know, you don't get- go through accreditation, through some series of exams or something, right? So technically anyone can be a journalist. And it's just in the last, 30, 40 years that J schools have become the gateway into journalism, right? But everything is being disrupted. So this whole question of who can be a journalist and who can tell a story is completely impacted by the fact that people have their own audiences, right? And we're talking about Motaz and Bisan and Hind and so many individuals who just have their own following that in some cases rivals that of some newsrooms, right? So it's a genuine threat to how information is being spread and received, and people are going right to the source. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah, we looked at the numbers, like Motaz Azaiza has like 18. 5 million followers. The New York Times has 18. 5 million.

Sonya Fatah: Precisely. It's not a small thing. And in that sense, it's interesting that newsrooms insist on this kind of old school interpretation of how to deal with that. Instead of embracing it, they want to push it. out and say, this isn't actually journalism, this is just somebody providing us with some information. I just wanted to connect this to George Floyd's murder and Darnella Frazier, who was the 17 year old girl who filmed the murder. Eventually, the Pulitzers recognized that act as an act of journalism because it fueled such a response and created such a space for conversation about police brutality and so on. The Pulitzer had to acknowledge that Darnella Frazier did something that is akin to journalism. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah, that's not the first time that's happened, right? There was the George Polk Award for citizen journalism. Citizen journalism has been recognized over decades. I'm thinking the video of Rodney King even was like a videotape, remember? 

Sonya Fatah: Of course, but that is called citizen journalism. And I'm saying there's a linguistic difference between that and saying an act of journalism, that anyone can commit an act of journalism. This idea that you could actually embrace all of the social media influencers and journalists who are on ground in Gaza reporting day to day crises at the risk of their own safety, but instead of embracing them and instead of standing up and saying, this is a huge crisis and we are in support, there has been silence. 

Vinita Srivastava: So as Western readers, as we take in our news, there's certain things that we're used to and we want to see. Yes, we can have people committing act of journalists on the ground. Do we still need to see the mainstream news organizations covering things, or are you saying we don't need them? 

Asmaa Malik: I definitely think we need them. I think that given the economic pressures, they need to be strategic about what they're reporting on, uh, the depth of what they're reporting on. I think we've lost audiences that are younger audiences. I mean, as a prof in a J school, students who come in and say, I want to work on The National, I want to work on like these big sort of things and who don't watch them. Who don't consume them. It's what they think they're supposed to want. And I'm making a big generalization. I'm not saying that there aren't students that are deeply invested, but I'm saying it's often the case. They're not watching the news at six o'clock. They're not watching the news at 10 o'clock. How they get their information has changed.

And I feel like we've been having this conversation for 20 years, that news organizations haven't changed. And instead of the cutbacks that we're seeing, not responding to the changing ways that people get information, get news is hurting them. I think that as we're seeing bureaus close in so many other places, we're not just talking about what's happening right now in Gaza, but as international reporting has suffered a huge blow because of these economic cutbacks, the news organizations need to refocus on who they are and what they actually do.

Now, I still think we need in depth reporting, we need analysis, but I think we have to question whether that always has to be a Western journalist. Al Jazeera, for example, has so many investigations, so much depth of reporting, but also not just in what's happening now, but over its history. So I think that to not recognize them, and I know that Amanpour later, just to go back to that, says they're being banned and we should stand against this. There's a danger of them being banned by Israel. I think that these organizations need to be acknowledged more and there needs to be more collaboration. I think the competitive. This idea of the news organization beating the news organization is going to kill the news organizations because they simply don't have the bench strength.

Vinita Srivastava: What I'm hearing you say is that there's all these Palestinian journalists on the ground and people on the ground committing act of journalists. And at the same time, these reports are being ignored by Western newsrooms. 

Sonya Fatah: What would you do? If I was a news organization, you were a news organization, the most obvious thing to me is you would reach out to some of these people and say, can you be a special correspondent for us over the course of the next period? Right? Like, why not do that? Why separate yourself? And so this comes back to the question of bias. Now, for example, let's say no one was allowed in Jerusalem and, and you had a number of people who were Israeli on the ground. Would the same issue exist in terms of partiality and so on, or are we talking about a deep hypocrisy that exists in terms of how these assessments are made? I'm forgetting the name of the reporter who was hired to report for the New York Times from Jerusalem, who had never done a day of journalism in her life, but was seen as being reliable enough to report in a major story. 

Vinita Srivastava: Are you talking about the sexual violence story? 

Sonya Fatah: Yes. 

Vinita Srivastava: We really need to talk about that. Earlier this year, the New York Times did run a story on sexual violence allegedly committed by Hamas against Israeli captives. And although I think a lot of people questioned the validity of the story at the time, the New York Times ran it anyways. And now we know that the information in that story has been largely debunked and discredited. What are the ramifications of that story for the New York Times? 

Sonya Fatah: I don't know if there are ramifications. You know, you go back in time and you think about what the New York Times role and responsibility was in the war in Iraq, right? And Judith Miller's complicity in that situation. 

Vinita Srivastava: I know, I was working at the New York Times at the time.

Sonya Fatah: So you remember that well, right? I was in New York in those days also. There was a conversation about it, but, you know, I don't think it affected the New York Times as a whole. So, I'm not convinced. 

Vinita Srivastava: You mean you don't think it affected their credibility at all? I saw all kinds of people saying, I'm going to cancel subscription. Asmaa, don't you think it has had some effect on its readers? 

Asmaa Malik: I think it has had an effect on readers. The challenge is though, that in that story, in particular, the recent one on sexual violence, it was a disturbing story. No one is saying it didn't happen, right? The impact of that story has happened.

And I think going back and breaking down what were the mistakes, what were the things that were not supported through follow up interviews and that kind of thing is important. And I think that it's important that people are talking about it, especially as we're talking about what kind of narratives are being perpetuated.

It also has an impact on hurting people who are vulnerable. The families of the hostages are vulnerable. There are a lot of vulnerable people in this situation. So the story had an impact because this is such an intense issue and the stakes are big. I think that it's important to break down how that story was reported and it's important to understand why it got the prominence it got. But I'm not sure who's paying attention to that. 

Sonya Fatah: I think what you're saying is the damage is done with the initial story, right? So how do you recover from that? Because enough people believe whatever was reported in that story, that taking it back is a whole other thing. But the point I was also trying to make, Vinita, is that the New York Times is the most successful digital publication in the United States. It assisted the United States in making a case to go to war in Iraq, even though both the cost of war from an economic perspective and the cost in terms of human lives overseas was so significant that even after that, the New York Times is able to build itself up as one of the most powerful publications in the U. S. So long term, I don't know what effect these things actually have. And I think it says something about power and how it can sustain itself over time. 

Vinita Srivastava: I somehow feel like they've lost a lot of trust with their readers, and I'm partly wondering about how they're going to build back up that trust. 

Asmaa Malik: I think that especially the actions against New York Times staffers who had signed a letter in support of Palestine, the disciplinary actions that are happening, are very telling. And most recently The Intercept just this week released the memo that very specifically banned, banned the phrases, ethnic cleansing, genocide, occupied territory. It's important that this reporting is being done because we need to peek behind that very powerful curtain.

And I think that this is happening at the CBC. There was a retired professor who wrote to the public editor and said, um, you know, why are you using sympathetic language towards israelis who are killed, but not towards Palestinians. And the response, um, was they're killed from a distance and these people are killed up front. So if it's from a distance that it's more passive. I'm not quoting that, but that's essentially what the response was. So I think it's important that we remember that like, you know, our job as news consumers, also our job as journalism professors and educators and journalists, critical journalists, Is to push back, is to recognize that, you know, um, uh, it is to show what's actually happening in newsrooms. And I think that, um, I think that's happening a lot and I, and I think that that's really good. I'm glad to see more, you know, pushes for transparency, but definitely the, the disciplinary actions against journalists that are happening are really chilling and silenced from journalism organizations um, in Canada, specifically, who are concerned about human rights and freedom of expression in what's happening to journalists in Gaza. I expect more engagement and more, like, pushback, but I'm not seeing it in Canada. 

Vinita Srivastava: More pushback from the news organizations or from the journalists? 

Asmaa Malik: From critical journalists. Journalists who are saying, why is this happening? And I think that there's a real fear. Part of the problem is here in Canada, we're so small and our news organizations, you know, people go from one organization to the other and it's the same people going back and forth. I've been in newspapers in Canada for almost 20, more than 20 years. Um, I see the same people moving around and it's just, the culture isn't breaking. And it's not breaking on upper levels, and, and I think that that's a real issue. 

Vinita Srivastava: We need a change in leadership, it sounds like what you're saying. 

Asmaa Malik: Yes. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah. Sonya, you seem like you wanted to say something. 

Sonya Fatah: I want to say so much, Vinita. Um, but yeah, everything Asmaa said about like the, I mean, I do find the Canadian uh, newsroom is perhaps even more stifling. It's, it's extremely conservative in terms of its approach. It's very wary. I do want to mention one thing to go back to the New York Times. The New York Times has been very clear about its position. I mean, it, it has published historically, uh, when it has been accused of anti Semitism by various groups that are ready to jump upon any kind of reporting that is seen as critical of Israel. Um, the New York Times has published an editorial in which they have said, and I'm quoting this, "We have been and remain stalwart supporters of Israel." That is an editorial from the New York Times. So, um, you know, this whole question of bias and objectivity, how does it get accounted for? That's a real challenge, and I think that's interesting when we talk about what's happening in Canadian newsrooms and the pressure on specific journalists to push for, um, fairer coverage. And I'm going to use the word fair, not balanced, not objective, but fair coverage.

Because at this point in time, we're talking about coverage being pro Palestinian or pro Israeli, which is also problematic. Like what is the story? What is actually happening? And if we talk about universal human rights, we talk about the Geneva Convention and the laws of war. And if these are the kind of documents and ideas in which we are rooting our journalism, then there's no question what the story is. Thinking back on Amanpour says in her conversation with Stewart, she's, she's saying, you know, I bring all guests on my show, I bring the Israeli mother and the Palestinian mother, and it's this great effort to show that I am not biased, right? It's like the both sides argument. And I think this is the problem with news organizations, is that that's not their job, actually. Their job is to report what is happening. And if, if what is happening is that there is an extreme injustice that is happening to one group of people, that that is the story. Yes, there's complexities in terms of the analysis and so on. But, um, I think that we get so mired in that conversation that, you know, for someone like Christiane Amanpour to be successful as a reporter, that is what she has to do. That is why she is where she is at CNN, because she has, followed that memo to a tee. What is happening in Canadian newsrooms, which is similar to what's probably happening in American newsrooms, but we know this firsthand from journalists, is the level of examination and the level of surveillance on the work that certain journalists are doing. And that means that certain stories are going through eight editors and so many levels and let's change this word, let's change that word. And that to me reflects two things. One, a genuine bias within the newsroom and two, fear. And I think that fear in the newsroom is partly a result of this hyper growth of various organizations that are beating down on Canadian news organizations. And I'm talking about an organization like Honest Reporting that has, as soon as anything is put out into the space, they just attack that news organization. They go at it with 30, 40, 50 letters or more, 

Vinita Srivastava: Or more. It's hundreds. I mean, it's hundreds. I can just, yeah. 

Sonya Fatah: You know, and they have their people calling up and their people are probably people who play golf or tennis or whatever with the top brass of news organizations. So there's pressure that's coming from top management and it affects them. 

Vinita Srivastava: But you use the word fear. And to me, when I hear the word fear in the newsroom, there's many different types of fear, right? There's the fear of being that journalist who actually is feeling responsible to be that person to speak out. And perhaps If you speak out, you'll lose your job the next day, but you actually are putting your livelihood on the line because you do what you believe in. So there's that fear. Like, we're all operating from a place of fear. 

Sonya Fatah: Yeah, absolutely. 

Asmaa Malik: Zahraa Al-Akhrass, who is at Global, has written a piece in Briarpatch this week about her experiences in the newsroom and not just since October, but going back in terms of historical biases that she's been called out for, things that have happened to her.

And so the experiences aren't just what people get disciplined for. And I think there's a real tendency to do poo poo this idea of microaggressions in a large way, but we can't ignore them. And the micro are not just micro, they're macro. In her case, she tells them from the beginning, anecdotally, from journalists who are in newsrooms, people mutter things under their breath. There are things that get said that make sure that whatever ideas come forward are shut down quickly. And Sonya and I have talked about this. If we rely on social platforms to be how people "discover" news, and it's not a random discovery, it's a very calculated algorithmic discovery, we are putting too much reliance on these platforms to do this, and you know, we know what's happening at Twitter.

Vinita Srivastava: It's not neutral. I follow all of these people, but I remember seeing at one point, they were gone, like there was just like, oh, my Facebook account has been suspended, because as you say, it's not neutral. So even who's moderating these accounts is not neutral. 

Asmaa Malik: And the ban on TikTok, like, what is that? What does government, what does the U. S. government want to ban? It's happening on multiple levels. 

Vinita Srivastava: I want to go to something that's perhaps promising, hopeful. We have seen these incredible works. We've mentioned Motaz Azaiza, Hind Khoudary, and Bisan Owda. They have all these social media followings, like in the millions, that are outpacing Western news outlets. What are they doing differently that's so, successful"? What are they doing differently than Western news outlets? 

Sonya Fatah: A lot of young people today will say, there's something so stilted and fake about the news voice. It sounds like a production or a performance, right? And there's something very real about someone just telling you, this is what's happening. I'm not pretending to be somebody else. I'm telling you and you can see that there's a transparency involved. I think people are interested in getting the information directly. There's a lack of trust in big news organizations. So are you the right arbiters of what I should know? And I think news organizations have done themselves and the larger space of journalism a real disservice by sort of sticking to this high moral ground, which is It's clearly problematic.

As Asmaa was saying, our students do not watch traditional broadcast shows. Most of them, every time I ask my students, where do you get your news? It's social media. Their knowledge doesn't come from one location. To Asma's point about Instagram and our reliance on tech companies, that AI is very much going to be part of our future.

And some of the stuff that news organizations have relied on doing or are looked at as doing is stuff like immediate hard news. All of that kind of news is going to be covered by AI in the future. So journalism organizations have to ask themselves, what are we here for? What should we be doing? And I think the real work here is in doing deeper analysis. There's going to be investigative journalism, data journalism, all of that, but deeper analysis of what is happening. And if you look right now at the coverage of the Iran response. It's really interesting how much of the contextual information has been buried in the stories. 

Vinita Srivastava: It's not buried. It's not even there.

Sonya Fatah: Yes. In some cases it's not there. It's almost like the news is being reported without any understanding of its history, why it's happening, what the perspectives are. So it's interesting even to see. Iran making its case on Twitter, explaining because they know that that perspective is not going to be there in Western news organizations.

Vinita Srivastava: So, in part, we're saying that the Palestinian journalists on the ground are doing things differently, and they are bringing that immediate, transparent, kind of authentic voice is what you're saying. But you're also saying that they're bringing some historical, contextual analysis.

Asmaa Malik: I wanted to say that what these journalists is deeply troubling the risks that they're taking. I mean, the trauma is ongoing. It's their families, it's hunger, it's insecurity. It's not knowing, like watching Bisan is heartbreaking and it shouldn't have to be. And I think that that's also important. News doesn't have to come at a person's expense. The deep injustice that's being done is that this work isn't being amplified. It isn't being carried for her by other people. And I think as a human, it is very hard to watch because the stakes are so high. News organizations don't have to walk in Bisan's footsteps, but there are things they can do that can amplify those voices, but also augment them and add to them and bring that human perspective to this cold clinical idea of "objectivity" and reportage as we understand it. And I do think younger generations are looking for authenticity, are looking for a connection. That element of it is important. And I think that bringing news to a humane level is perhaps the way to think about it. 

Vinita Srivastava: Yeah, we should just take a moment to say that of all of the journalists that have been killed globally, 70 percent of them were Palestinian journalists. What we're also saying is that there's been a silence of that kind of reporting as well. So we're not hearing that story in Western news outlets. We're not hearing about their risk of life. As you're saying, why are they doing this work at the risk of their lives? And why aren't people amplifying their story more?

Sonya Fatah: It's a question to ask news editors. It's a question to ask news leaders. How do they justify that hypocrisy? You asked, what are the Palestinian journalists on the ground providing us? And they're providing us a lot of context in those stories. There's a visual context that means a lot more than reading something in a online piece. There's details. For instance, when Plestia was doing her reportage, and you see this in actually a number of their Instagram stories, you will hear the drones hovering. And that is a sound that Palestinians are used to, specifically in Gaza. And it's a psychologically disturbing sound. So as a viewer, to have a kind of a front row seat to that, you begin to understand a little bit more about the psychology of this kind of warfare and the impact it has, which you may not ever see in a news report. There's an intimacy. To Asmaa's point, the distance between the person whose story you're sharing and the person who is telling that story does not need to be a gulf, and that is an imagined idea and this connects to what I'd earlier called the colonial gaze. That was only possible when newsrooms were white and they were male and that has adjusted. So what you're seeing happening in the newsroom today, particularly in the UK, in the U. S., in Canada is a shift of demographics, that is calling into question that colonial gaze. And even though it's still very difficult to express that voice, it's going to grow because there's that old world order, the white colonial journalist who was the adjunct to the officer is gone.. It cannot exist in that vacuum anymore. 

Asmaa Malik: Thinking about how things are changing, I am very hopeful in our classrooms, hearing from students who bring different perspectives, bring different understandings of power, understandings of inequity and injustice, and are open to new ways of looking at journalism. Now are going to reshape this where we might not find this in the traditional Canadian newsroom. I think that that is going to break down where are emerging journalists with fresh perspectives and a desire for change? Where are they going to leave their mark? What are they going to shape as a future for journalism is an exciting possibility. And I think I see my role as someone who will support, to support that and to help foster that and to open up doors wherever possible, and I think that a lot of journalists who are in newsrooms now have opened doors, have try to change what's going on in the newsroom. And I think the challenge is going changing newsroom leadership and thinking about what's purpose newsroom. But as long as the economics of journalism are informing that, I don't know what's going to change on that level, but I have great hope for things changing outside of those spaces. 

Vinita Srivastava: You guys are both journalism educators, so you must have been bouncing and kicking around these ideas for a long time. How can you teach this differently inside the education journalism programs? Sonya. 

Sonya Fatah: Yes, I, this is exactly where I wanted to go. So thank you. Uh, like what is the point of going to J school? You know, this is a question that all journalism schools should be asking. I think journalism schools are being really slow in addressing this question, especially if it's an, if it's a four year degree, like what do you do in four years apart from training someone how to tell a story on broadcast or podcast or news? Um, the space has to be for critical examination. What is the history of journalism? Where do we go from here? How do we practice journalism? What do we do with these terms like trauma informed reporting? How do we actually institute them in practice when we're going to these organizations that don't necessarily know how to do that? Specifically what, uh, I'm interested in is a decolonized approach to journalism, which means, we change some of the language, we don't call our sources, sources, we call them story sharers because we- the question I'm interested in asking is what happens if you change language, how does it change how you interact and respect the person whose story you are sharing versus thinking of it as an extraction that you have the right to. There's a role that I've introduced called the community gatherer, and the community gatherer is a journalist whose work is to engage with the audience, bring the audience into conversation. We're not just releasing a story and saying, okay, sit with this. The world sucks, right? Uh, instead, like what is our role in this space to take this story forward? How can we act as citizens in this space or as residents in the space? So that, that is a small part of it, but I think the university should be a center for experimentation. It should be a center for new models for engaging with um, the way in which journalism has been done and think about whether we can do journalism differently and how.

Vinita Srivastava: Thank you so much for spending the time to talk about this with me today. 

Sonya Fatah: Thank you for having us. 

Asmaa Malik: Thank you so much for having us. 



Vinita Srivastava: That's it for this episode of Don't Call Me Resilient. You can check out our resource list and our show notes at You can reach the team at, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @dontcallmeresilientpodcast. Don't Call Me Resilient is a production of The Conversation Canada. The series is produced and hosted by me, Vinita Srivastava. This episode was co produced by Danielle Piper. Our associate producer is Ateqah Khaki. Krish Dineshkumar does our sound design and mixing. Our consulting producer is Jennifer Moroz. This term, we have two student journalists, Catherine Zhu and Husein Haveliwala. Lisa Varano is the managing editor of The Conversation Canada, and Scott White is the CEO. Zaki Ibrahim wrote and performed the music we use on the podcast. The track is Something in the Water.