Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Fulfilling a 'Shared Dream' in Baghdad

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Fulfilling a 'Shared Dream' in Baghdad

Article excerpt

Hannah Allam, the former Baghdad bureau chief for Knight Ridder who now handles the Cairo bureau for McClatchy, offered this e-mailed comment on Fadel.

I first met Leila when I was assigned to be her mentor during her internship at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. She was soft-spoken, but had this quiet determination about her. She and I immediately became close friends, especially because we had parallel upbringings: Arab fathers, American mothers, and we both grew up in oil towns in Saudi Arabia. After work in Minnesota, we would go out for dinner and talk about our shared dream: to report on the Middle East one day.

Fast forward four years. Leila and I still cherish our late-night talks, but now they take place on the Nile or the Tigris instead of the Mississippi. We still can't believe it.

The shy intern I mentored in Minneapolis has morphed into a smart, confident manager who is now my own mentor and sounding board. She runs a tight ship in Baghdad, producing smart, unique stories that offer a peek into the lives of Iraqis and Americans who are struggling to contain the violence. Her background as an Arab-American Muslim certainly helps with access and sources, but that wouldn't amount to much if she didn't also bring sharp news judgment and a Puritan work ethic. …

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