Interview with Ameera Fouad ~ Journalist, Poet, Writing Instructor & Civil Work Activist

INTERVIEWER: MAHMOUD MANSI

EDITOR: SALMA HANNO

About Ameera Fouad:

A renown journalist with ultimate passion towards traveling, inspiring people and becoming very ethical. She has worked a lot to create a better world. As a freelance journalist Ameera published around 60 articles in Al-Ahram Weekly, and a few more articles on Middle East Observer, The AlexandErian Magazine & more. On a personal side, Ameera is a very humble and loving person, beloved by everyone, and her work in journalism is usually concerned with humane, cultural and social issues. Through her journalism she supported many individuals in their careers and messages and highlighted the voice of the voiceless. Ameera did not only stop at that point but she proceeded her childhood passion as a poet and she is now a published author. Ameera Fouad is also keen to create awareness regarding media issues, and one of the ways she does that is through teaching others journalism, through her own courses conducted in universities and bookstores. Last but not least, Ameera did all her achievements while being able to balance her life with her family and friends, and while maintaining a full-time job as an employee in a Petroleum Organization.

THE INTERVIEW

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How did you start your journey as a literature student and ended up as a renowned journalist?

Ameera Fouad: Well, I have loved writing since I was young. I used to write poems, my thoughts, short stories and everything my pen would jot down for any blowing idea.

I remember the first poem I wrote was just at the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2001. The poem is called “Peace” as it deals mainly with the killing of Muhammed Al Dorra, and about the Palestinian state and the Arabia vs. the Israeli struggle in general. Thus, at such a young age, I realized that writing to me is an ultimate passion, and not just a skill.

Actually, being a student in the English Department Alexandria University was, undoubtedly, my first step towards realizing my dream of being a writer and a journalist. I owe my professors and my teachers the time, the efforts and all the knowledge they passed to us, as students, and made us ultimately possess.

You know! Many people just say that “graduates of the English department” have their own “minds” which many people find so weird to comprehend. However, we were simply taught how to think, how to read, how to criticize and how to be creative and honestly how to be humans.

After graduation, I knocked all doors that could be tackled in order to pave the way to be a journalist. I was determined long ago that this was my path and so I kept trying, motivating myself, improving my skills, etc.

I remember how I used to send many articles to various newspapers on the international and local levels, including Al Ahram Weekly newspaper. I used to write articles, mainly about current events happening in my city, and send them to the editors of these newspapers. To my surprise, just after several attempts, I at last was contacted by the Editor in Chief there to modify and to edit an article I already sent so that it would be published.

The article “Agamy Aficionados” was my first hit and my first article in Al AhramWeekly. It was about Al Agamy, as an Alexandria summer resort. Thus, I tried my best to prove myself an article after another. Now, I am much honored to be among their team and to be their correspondent in Alexandria.

Just after graduation, I published my own magazine called Gazania Magazine which marked a very important step in my life as I learnt how to make a magazine on its own.

During all these years, I worked as a freelance writer for a number of newspapers and magazines besides Al Ahram Weekly, like the Middle East Observer, Ahram Online, Cilantro Magazine, Emaj Magazine and Amwage Newspaper.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How did you start your career as a journalism instructor?

Ameera Fouad: My teaching experience started in 2014 when I was asked by Diwan Bookstores to give courses in “Writing and Journalism”. With the help and support of The Forgotten Writers Foundation, I started teaching young journalists who want to pursue their careers in writing and journalism modules, in particular.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Do journalists have specific qualities?

Ameera Fouad: Well, there are no certain criteria or specifications for journalists. What is required is only to have the passion for writing and the will to work hard and to meet sharp deadlines.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Can any person become a journalist?

Ameera Fouad: Well, not anybody could become a journalist. Journalism is not about writing a story, an essay or a report. Those who are involved in this profession know quite well that it is a very exhausting task. It’s all about hard work, heavy duty tasks with having the concept of the “time” all buzzing in your mind. You must be up to the moment, up to all events happening in the world, up to the stream of news and up to all the breaking news happening across your city first, your country second, and the world, third. Of course, to be cultured, well informed, and very informative is essential.

So without the love and the passion for this job, one could not stand it especially that the job’s financial aspect is not as rewarding as everybody expects.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: What are the different kinds of journalism?

Ameera Fouad: Well, there are different kinds of journalism; Broadcast Journalism, Print Journalism, New Media Journalism, Photojournalism, Multimedia Journalism, Sport Journalism and many more. Well, yesterday we had only two or three kinds. However, today with the rise of online media technology, the discipline of journalism became an interdisciplinary branch and consequently new branches started to emerge. We are now, at the midst of the revolution of new media.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Which kind do you think Egypt needs most?

Ameera Fouad: Egypt does not need a certain type of journalism as much as it needs real journalists and a media chart code; a code, which makes journalists abide by certain standards and ethical issues. Many people have entered this profession in recent years, without any apprehension to its ethical code and its standardized unwritten conventions. That’s why we miss writers whom we look up to and we miss how the written word sounds and appeals to us all; all the Egyptian news is all about reporting, not being created genuinely as it should be.

We also need the investigative journalism to rise up, The Watchdog journalism, pioneered by Steve Weinberg, Sarah Cohen, Glenn Greenwald, Youssri Fouda and many more, deeply investigates a single topic of interest, such as serious crimes, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing and an investigative journalist would spend months or years researching and preparing a report. It is a primary source of information and we are direly in need of.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your point of view, what is the aim behind journalism?

Ameera Fouad: Seeking the truth, not twisting it.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Do you think one has to study journalism in order to become a journalist?

Ameera Fouad: No, not necessarily and not fundamentally. Most journalists even the big names were not graduates of Mass and Media. For example: Salah Montaser, Anis Mansour, Moustafa & Aly Amin, Mohamed Husseinin Heikel, Abdel Wahab Metawe and many more who did not graduate from Mass and Media.

Nowadays, the trend goes mainly to study specifications just to be a sports journalist, an economy and business journalist, an investigative journalism, etc. A trend which gives a greater sense to the genre which entails engulfing deeply to its details.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your experience as a journalist what are the difficulties a journalist faces inside the newspaper/magazine and in the street?

Ameera Fouad: Well, indeed a journalist faces many difficulties and many obstacles. For instance, many institutes in Egypt don’t have yet any press releases or a media spokespersons which makes the journalist double the effort in trying to reach the news.

Also, the media sources are not open and not widely spoken. As far as the streets and people are concerned, I believe that the nation worldwide has misconceptions about journalists, particularly in the last five years, in the midst of the country’s turmoil.

Also, detaining a journalist who is, by far and by large, doing his/her job by capturing photos or by getting to the news must be dealt with the extreme watchfulness and not recklessness by any authority.

Ameera Reading CNP Radio Bulletin / Cardiff News Plus

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: What is your criticism regarding journalism in Egypt?

Ameera Fouad: It is deeply sorrowful to see some newspapers biased and financed by certain capitalist groups to serve a certain ideology. For a newspaper or any media outlet to be driven with or against authority is unethical at all.

Journalism is all about seeking the truth and all journalists must put forth the principle regardless of which newspaper they write for and which policy they are driven by. A journalist who authentically and truthfully serves the profession should never be biased or prejudiced.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: If you are the HR manager of a magazine/newspaper, how would you measure the performance of a journalist?

Ameera Fouad: Of course, not by the hours he/she would spend inside the office but rather by the writs written, the quality of the article written and the sources he/she had spoken to. Any performance must be evaluated according to how rich and how authentic the news article is.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: What are your pieces of advice to young journalists in Egypt who want to brand their names in the media market? Or in other words, how can someone become a good journalist working for a newspaper that demands him/her to work for it?

Ameera Fouad: The first and the point that must be remembered the most: is to always work on himself and let his writ be his own token. Have his own style and his own way. Always remember that he’s a writer, not a copier.

Secondly, use all his social media accounts to publish his work including: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Share his articles and make his friends share them as well.

Thirdly, start his job on a small scale. Start in local newspapers and magazines, even if he is not going to be paid. But he will gain experience and his name will be known in the field of journalism

Last but not least, create his own blog. And in this point, always remember Ghada Abdel Aaal (انا اعايزة اتجوز) who started by writing her own blog and has turned miraculously into T.V series starring by famous celebrity Hend Sabry. Don’t lose hope, he might be another Ghada. Just do the job and start writing.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Ms. Ameera, we are so honored by your words, we deeply thank you for your efforts towards your family, friends, readers and society.