Maria Fahel is a reporter at Future TV. She told us about what drives her, in spite of all the obstacles.
Maria Fahel is a reporter at Future TV. At 23, she had to fight against prejudice to come to Beirut to study her passion. Finding a job was just as hard amid the media sector crisis. In spite of these obstacles and of the challenges ahead, she is as eager as ever to pursue a career in journalism. With enthusiasm, she told us more about what drives her.
Can you describe what a day at Future TV looks like?
When I arrive at work in the morning, we start by discussing the news of the day with my colleagues. We try to identify which subjects might be the most relevant to the station. I enjoy a lot this moment when I can confront my ideas to those of other journalists, especially more experienced ones. We are a team of eleven reporters. After this informal meeting, I suggest to the producer one subject and, if he agrees, we go on the ground with the cameraman and start shooting. When the reporting is done, we go back to the office. I then write a script and select some videos that I send to the video editors. I really like this team spirit while preparing the news bulletin. It kind of looks like a routine but new subjects always keep popping up.
What do you like so much in journalism and what was your most interesting news story?
For me journalism is not only a job, it’s a passion. I like to be close to people, hear about their problems and bring their complexity to light. When I was an undergraduate student, I had to do one big documentary project. I chose to work on the death penalty in Lebanon, which is still legal today even though no execution has been carried out since 2004. After many refusals, I was eventually granted an authorization to visit the women’s prison in Baabda. There, I interviewed some prisoners facing the death penalty. This was tough, but this experience has been very instructive, on both personal and professional levels.
Did your family support you in your project?
Not at all! At least not in the beginning. I only told them about the Lebanese University entrance exam after passing it. I come from Zahle and my parents were not pleased to learn that I wanted to move to Beirut. They said it was dangerous for me to go to live alone in such a big city. If I decided to go despite their warnings, I would have to be on my own: finding a “foyer” by myself, paying for it… I didn’t listen to their warnings and I went. Now they have changed their minds and support me.
What studies did you do and what did they teach you?
I have a BA in journalism from the Faculty of Information of the Lebanese University (LU) and a master’s degree in economic journalism, also from LU. However, when I started working I realized everything was very different from what I had been studying at university. My studies were mostly theoretical, we had just one class dedicated to practice. The LU doesn’t have a studio for instance, which makes it impossible to get used to speak in front of a camera. On the job, I realized I didn’t really know how to do a voiceover [commentary that accompanies moving pictures on television]. Of course, we had learned that before but in a different way. Finding the right style was a bit difficult at the beginning.
How did you find your job?
Finding a job in journalism isn’t easy. This sector is in crisis and a lot of media aren’t paying their employees anymore. The inflow of students from other fields of study, willing to do internships in this area, is also increasing competition. In other words, opportunities are limited without a “wasta”. In my case, I was lucky. One of my teachers at the Lebanese University introduced me to my first employer. When I told him I was looking for an internship, he urged me to check with the Good News Network (GNN), a new station at the time, which was willing to hire. Then during my master’s, another teacher helped me to apply for a job at Future TV.
Read also: 10 useful tips on writing a good Lebanese CV
According to you, what are the most important qualities of a good journalist?
You need to be curious about everything. This is the only way of fully understanding the reality surrounding you. And the second most important point is critical thinking. This ability is essential to differentiate between true and fake news.
How do you see yourself ten years from now?
I would like to be a business journalist as I think that, now and in the future, economic issues will keep make the world go round. Besides, there is not a lot of business journalists in Lebanon. This choice is also a way for me to increase my chances to pursue a career in this area.