Telling True Stories III

Tomas Alex Tizon:

Is an American author and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He contributed to Newsweek and 60 Minutes. He was also the bureau chief of LA Times.
Writing a profile is documenting someone’s life. As unique as you believe your life is, others think the same way about their lives as well. I found his four points to consider interesting and gave me a new perspective and a new point of view when thinking about profiles.

  1. Your Subject is as COMPLICATED as You Are
  2. Your Subject Carries a BURDEN as Heavy as Yours
  3. Your Subject WANTS Something
  4. Your Subject is Living an EPIC STORY

Malcolm Gladwell:

“One reason I don’t write profiles of people is that I believe we are incapable of truly describing a person’s core… People are more complicated than our profiles of them reflect.” – The Limits of Profiles

“Though we are incapable of getting all of a person’s essence, I do believe we can get at pieces of someone’s personality. That’s enough!”

Melissa Fay Greene:

Has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Readers Digest, Life, MS, Newsweek, The Wilson Quarterly, Parade, Redbook, Parenting, HuffingtonPost, Salon, TheDailyBeast, and
She has five books:

“No one asked us to be keepers of the flame of history; we’ve taken it on ourselves. When we choose to write nonfiction, our first commitment is not to be readable or to educate or to curry favor with our readers. It is to be as accurate as possible.”

Telling True Stories Part 3:

There are various genres that journalists can follows to write their stories. It is important to follow the ethics and rules of journalism and to find your own style and your own voice.

Telling True Stories II

I am enjoying every page of this book. It is rich with its tips and advice, yet in a way that I did not find in other journalism books that I read during my study. With these brilliant and different writers, journalists and authors, I get a pleasant surprise of their ideas and writings in every article.



Jan Winburn

is a senior editor for enterprise at CNN digital. She is an award- winning writer who got:

  1. Pulitzer Prize for featuring writing.
  2. Ernie Pyle Award for Human Interest Writing
  3. ASNE Award for Non-Deadline Writing.

The editor’s questions that she emphasized in her article were useful and informative. However, two main questions drew my attention and interest, as I do not see them being used or implemented in many news organizations nowadays which make some stories half- told. Therefore, the truth is missing.

  • What truism is being presented in the news, and does heading in the opposite direction suggest a story?
  • Is there an untold background tale?

I remembered the conflict between the East and the West when I read these specific questions. I get the weirdest questions about how the Arabs thinks or feel about the West. Interestingly, all Western media promote certain stereotypes, which people never stop and think about. They just hear them, believe them and then act accordingly.
Following what I read in the articles, there were tips from different authors that reporters must go wherever the story takes them. This is how you know the truth and report it; by going to both sides and asking questions.
When you do not hear the other voice, you must know that this is not the truth and that you are missing something. Therefore, that is what I am aiming for, to go wherever the story takes me and fully report it. Not to allow biases, or to follow trends, gossips and stereotypes. That is what I owe to my profession, my readers and myself.




Ted Conover:

is an author and a journalist. “He writes about real people by living their own lives,” as he described himself on his blog.



Although it might seem extreme for some journalists, going as far as sending your self to prison might be required to get the truth. Not every reporter would need to do that, but depending on what you are covering, you should go wherever the action is. Get the story from its original sources no matter how long it takes you.


Telling True Stories I

Jacqui Banaszynski holds the Knight Chair in editing at the Missouri School of Journalism and she is an editing fellow at the Poynter Institute. She worked as a news editor and reporter for more than 30 years. She was a senior editor at The Oregonian, and an Associate Managing Editor at The Seattle Times. Some of her significant work are:

  • Her series “AIDS in the Heartland” – won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in feature writing.
  • Her coverage of the Ethiopian famine – was a finalist for the 1986 Pulitzer in international reporting
  • Her coverage of the 1988 Olympics – won the nation’s top deadline reporting award.
  • 2008: She was named to the Feature Writers Hall of Fame.
Stories Matter:

I enjoyed the way she wrote this article. She wanted to make a point about the important of telling stories and she started her article with a story. The narration of the scenes, characters, sounds and events created a profile of that disaster in Ethiopia which will last forever for yet generations to come.

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried

That is what I aim to do with my journalism study. I want to tell the truth of the events that happen in the world through my stories. I want to tell these stories with different voices and all parties involved to be represented even if I had to travel across the world to get their voices.



Gay Talese: worked for The New York Times for almost a decade and wrote for several publications including Esquire, The New Yorker, Newsweek and the Harper’s Magazine.
He wrote about eleven books. He is currently working on a book about marriage for Knopf.

 “With all of the qualities of the scene-setting, the dialogue, the place and time and the time and place in which your characters move. And I want to move with the characters, move with them and describe the world in which they are living.” – Gay Talese

Some of his famous books:

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“Gay Talese is known for his daring pursuit of “unreportable” stories, for his exhaustive research, and for his formally elegant style.” Barbara Lounsberry –

Delving into Private Lives:

It is exciting to learn about great writers who did what no one else did, and yet they achieved what they wanted and got people’s admiration. Writing about people who no one writes about, or places that no one visits or topics that no one reports; unique branch of journalism. I learned two main points from this story:

  1. Go wherever the story takes you, and make sure that you get it from its original sources even if it took you to the other side of the world
  2. Do not follow the crowd, believe in what you like to write about and persue it even if you are the only person taking that path. Be Unique and Distinctive.



David Halberstam: was an American journalist and historian. He was famous for his coverage of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, as well as other areas including business, media, culture and sports. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964. He died in a traffic accident in Menlo Park, California on April 23, 2007.

“Things are changing. Narrative nonfiction is on the rise , and I feel lucky to have spent more than fifty years doing it. I’ve been paid to learn, to ask questions, to think. What could be more enjoyable and more rewarding than that?”- David Halberstam.

The Narrative Idea:

His article had some of the advice that I used to hear since the first year in my journalism study. Nevertheless, his words held different meaning and perspective comparing to the work he did. I have always heard that the story idea is the most important element. A journalist must know what he wants to write about, and understand where he wants to go with the story. However, knowing the books he wrote, his ideas were extraordinary. Or perhaps his enthusiasm and willingness to pursue these ideas was extraordinary.

Some of his good advice:

  • “The writer must get better and better, become a better storyteller.”
  • “The idea is vital. Telling a good story demands a great conception, a great idea for why the story works— for what it is and how it connects to the human condition.”
  • “The more reporting you do, the more authority your voice has.”



Katherine Boo: is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a former reporter and editor for The Washington Post. She won several awards including:

  1. Pulitzer Prize.
  2. MacArthur “Genius” grant.
  3. National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.

One of her best books is “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” which was published in 2012.It won the following awards:

  • The National Book Award
  • The PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award
  • The Los Angeles Times Book Prize
  • The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award
  • The New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award
  • Named one of the Ten Best Books of the year
  • Named of the Best Books of the year
  • New York Times Bestseller
Difficult Journalist That’s Slap-Up Fun:

I have learned from Mr. Halberstam that a journalist is a person who gets paid to learn more, ask more questions and think. Form this article by Katherine Boo, I learn to go around, observe, think and ask questions. Go to where no one else have been to. Ask questions that people and journalists never bother to ask. However, at the same time use narration to “engage the public, almost against its will, in crucial questions of meritocracy and social justice,” as Boo described.

“While reporting, you must lose control so you can accumulate the facts. While writing , you must exert maniacal control over those facts.”

“Listen to the questions people ask after you give them a two-sentence synopsis of your reporting day. In those questions and reactions you get closer to the most important ideas and arguments that you need to show in your scenes.”

Smiles Shine My Life

By: Gehad Ibrahim

By: Gehad Ibrahim

Dr. Medhat Ibrahim: He is my dad, my hero, and my everything in my life. People used to call me the young Dr. Medhat as I look like him and in personality as well. He supported me in every step in my life. He was always encouraging me especially in my decision to come to the US. I do my best to try to be as great as he is. We always get into discussion about different things including politics, people, Egypt, problems in the Arab world and the world as a whole. He guides me to the right way, but also urges me through tough times to do my own decisions. I am forever blessed to have him in my life.

From: Cassie Ethington Facebook

From: Cassie Ethington Facebook

Cassandra Ethington: I first met her on my first semester in the US, I was then at the State University of New York, Cobleskill. We were in the same group in our final project for the Technical Communication class. She was the first person to know that I was returning for another semester at Cobleskill after spending my summer in Egypt. She was with me since then in every adventure, decision and break through my life in the US. She considers my as her Egyptian adopted daughter. I consider the Ethingtons as my American family.Hope one day my family and the Ethingtons will meet one day at some place.


By: Gehad Ibrahim

Frances Yu: She is the closest friend I have in the US. She is an international student as well, from China. We are graduating together in May. I first met her in my first semester at the University at Albany more than a year ago. We have a lot of characteristics in common. I enjoy comparing my culture to hers; I never thought they were that similar before. We support each other in our adventure as students in the US.


By: Hossam Medhat

Aya Hussein: She is my cousin but I have always considered her as my older sister. Growing up, I always looked up to her as my role model. We used to go out and do activities together, not anymore since we are thousands of miles apart 😦 . However, I learned a lot from her. She was and still always present for me, and she always encourages me and urges me to stay strong and do well in my study. Talking to her makes me forget about being away from home. I always have support as long as I have her by my side 😀 Some people just make you realize how your family can make your life better.

From: Maii Zikry Facebook

From: Maii Zikry Facebook

Maii Zikry: She is my first Egyptian friend that I meet in the US. Although we only spend one semester together before she graduated and went back to Egypt, we spent a lot of time together and had many memories and laughs. I admired her persistent and ambitious personality. She was a hard-working student and the president of different clubs as well as an active member in others. we became really close friends and I used to ask for her advice when I faced problems during my first semester in the US.

Food for Thought

I was not very interested in following the news until the Arab Spring started in 2011. Now, I care about updating myself with the events everyday. Moreover, being here in the US, made me more interested in reading and comparing news coverage in America, Europe and western countries in general and how they are covered in the Arab countries and the Middle East. Facebook is my main source, in which I follow different publications’ pages like the

I also saw this video that was made by the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy. It sums up a lot about the Egyptian Revolution.

Following the events that happened in France and the escalation in Europe especially Germany, I read this interesting article in The Blog on the Huffington Post UK website. It was written by a British Muslim student responding to the 25,000 anti- Islam protesters in Germany. More interestingly was the article in The Daily Beast entitled “For Republicans, Muslims Will Be the Gays of 2016.” I would really recommend that to everyone.

It is ironic to see how governments use stereotypes, exaggerate them and use them for their own benefits and simply mislead people, with the help of media of course. Nevertheless, it is really frustrating that people know of their government’s deceiving methods, yet they still fall for them willingly.

I also read this article in a magazine produced by the Times Union called 518 Life. The article discussed Activism in the Capital Region by Brianna Snyder. For me, it reminded me with the Arab Spring, as its fourth anniversary just started in the mid of January 2015.

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I do not read a specific book, and I do not follow a certain writer, I read whatever my eye falls on and interest me. At the same time, I try to read from both sides in whatever story I read.