November 13, 2012
BY: NICOLA MACLEOD
When it comes to practicing journalism, CBC’s Nahlah Ayed has an unpopular view: journalism requires patience.
Ayed delivered this year’s Dalton Camp Endowment in Journalism Lecture, “Yes, I Will Wait: In praise of long journeys, long interviews– and a longer stay,” last Wednesday to over 400 people at St. Thomas University.
Ayed has worked as foreign television correspondent in the Middle East for 11 years and has covered The War on Terror, the Iraq War and the Arab Spring.
“I’m here to sing the praises of patience,” said Ayed. “Nothing really worked until I learned to be patient.”
Ayed told the packed Kinsella auditorium of her success stories practicing perseverance and committed journalism, even going as far as conducting an eight hour interview over a week period. She explained patience produced the best content.
“They[Middle Eastern People] have been waiting 40 years to tell their story,” said Ayed. “I can wait 40 minutes.”
Ayed was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As a child, her family relocated to a Jordanian refugee camp in order to reconnect with their Palestinian culture. Ayed is fluent in Arabic, which comes with pros and cons when working in the Middle East. She can communicate with the locals, but everyone wants to know her story, which is a disadvantage in a divided region.
Ayed encouraged the aspiring journalists to take the scenic routes in their career, but admitted that this could be difficult and required additional time, something journalists on a deadline do not have.
Ayed said she prefers to travel by road to her destinations in the Middle East because she can prepare and get the full story. In one instance, she travelled to Beirut by taxi and saw a lineup of refugees heading towards Syria.
“The sight of so many people on the move gave me a sense of how serious it was,” said Ayed.
“I would never have seen that had I flown in.”
She told the crowd that foreign corresponding is more about overcoming obstacles and less about journalism.
“If you do not know how to solve problems, you will almost certainly fail.”