Challenges Facing Arab-American Journalism

Ray Hanania, a Palestinian Arab-American activist and former journalist who now works in public relations for KemperLesnik Communication, has written an essay urgin Arab Americans to "pursue journalism as a career choice rather than as an option in a political battle." Coverage of the Arab community is biased, he says, in part due to an "anti-Arab American media," but also because of a scarcity of professional Arab journalists. "The biggest challenge we face is the fact that the Arab community comes from a society where, historically, journalism does not exist. Despite some recent (past 20 years) exceptions, free speech is prohibited in the Middle East. Inexperienced in this fundamental essential to the profession and craft of journalism, Arabs who come from this scenario are burdened by restrictions and distortions in what journalism really is." (Hanania himself straddles the gap between journalism and advocacy, calling for objectivity and professionalism while also advising the Arab-American community in PR techniques.)