For the past three weeks I have been surrounded by journalists of all shapes, sizes and colors. And I mean that both metaphorically and literally. It has been great: Journalists are usually sharp, witty, critical and well informed. Some of them are so impressive that they're just darned sexy. They make for interesting conversation, and are probably great at other things too, like knitting and drinking games.
But there are other qualities which journalists pride themselves on portraying and inhabiting. Certain words make you feel warm fuzzy and glowing with pride in the crazy and chaotic world that is the media, these include objectivity, fairness, balance and detachment.
I am not a journalist by training, nor do I have any serious journalistic aspirations. I like to write, and I like to give my opinion when I have one. To give my opinion means that I will not always necessarily be objective. I want to retain that right. While I think objectivity is not a bad thing to aim for, I believe that the idea of objectivity obscures the fact that I am a human being who sees the world through a particular lens. One, I believe, which is valuable particualrly because it is subjective.
To write I must care enough to channel my energy towards formulating articulate ideas about a particular topic. Most of the time, this means that I care enough to have an opinion about what should be rather than what is. I don't believe in detatchement from my subject matter, and will not aspire to be detatched.
Because I am not a reporter or news journalist, I am also not always concerned with presenting both sides of the story, or making sure that I am balanced. Having said all of that, I do try to be fair. I do try to check my facts and make sure that I am not citing make-believe figures. I try not to accuse anyone of anything too outlandish without proof and I generally attempt to stay away from unfounded hypotheses or offensive content.
Writing, for me, is a continuing experiment, sometimes more succesful than others. Throughout my time in the US I have been giving out the adress of this blog to a myriad of journalists, writers and even politicians. With blogs being treated as the new medium for journalism and the so called " death of the newspaper," I feel that some might expect this to be a consistent, coherent and "professional" blog about the US elections. While I don't speak for any of my fellow bloggers on this site, I will say that I do not always aim for consistency, I don't hold myself to the standards of professional journalism, and I blog about whatever I feel I can write intelligently about, even if it is not directly related to the US elections.
There are many bloggers in the US who are journalists, and many others who provide day to day election coverage. That is not, I believe, why we are here.I approach this project as a creative social, intercultural and political experiment. There is much that bloggers, even those of us who do not call themselves journalists, can learn from journalism as a profession. But I also believe that there is much we can contribute because we are so diverse, versatile and unhemmed by certain professional or technical standards.
It is in that spirit that I invite you to have an open mind when reading our blog, and follow us as we try to make of this more than a cliched East meets West encounter, or a boring comparative commentary on America versus Egypt. For me, this is about what is striking, what is interesting, and mostly, like everything else I write, what is personal. Happy reading, and happy elections.