Sarah Abdurrahman is a producer for On the Media
iPhone or Android/Mac or PC?
Android and PC
What word would the other producers use to describe you?
What embarrasses you about your media diet?
Almost everything. It’s more embarrassing than my actual diet.
What would your cable news show be called?
It would be untitled. I would spend so much of the network’s time and resources trying to come up with a title, that the program would be cancelled before it even began.
What is your favorite thing about On the Media?
Our job allows us to do what most people have to hide from their bosses—read interesting articles, watch videos online and sit around talking to co-workers about the latest happenings in the news.
Earlier this month, OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman, her family, and her friends were detained for hours by US Customs and Border Protection on their way home from Canada. Everyone being held was a US citizen, and no one received an explanation. Sarah tells the story of their detainment, and her difficulty getting any answers from one of the least transparent agencies in the country.
William Tyler - Country of Illusion
[Hi folks. This piece has been getting a lot of traffic, so we wanted to direct you to more of Sarah's enormously good reporting if you're interested. A nice place to start is her firsthand account of what it was like to coordinate information for anti-Gaddafi rebels, or her profile last month of the newly launched Al-Jazeera America. Or you can just go here for all of her OTM appearances.]
Al Jazeera America launched Tuesday with the promise of a more serious approach to news reporting aimed at U.S. television viewers. But the 24-hour news network, originally started by the Emir of Qatar in 1996, has some obvious challenges in America.
The Al Jazeera media network is about to launch a new American channel, but limited cable carriage and negative perceptions about the Al Jazeera name might make it difficult to attract viewers. OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman goes inside Al Jazeera America to find out how the new channel is trying to break into the US media market.
We all claim to want privacy online, but that desire is rarely reflected in our online behavior. In a story that originally aired in January, OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman looks into the futile attempts we make to protect our digital identities.
Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto op.77 in D Major
Duck Duck Go is a small search engine based in Pennsylvania that is, according to Google at least, a Google competitor. OTM producer Chris Neary talks with Duck Duck Go founder Gabriel Weinberg, SearchEngineLand's Danny Sullivan, and a dedicated Duck Duck Go user about the site. Also, each of the OTM producers try Duck Duck Go, and only Duck Duck Go, for a week.
Theme from I Dream of Jeannie
We all claim to want privacy online, but that desire is rarely reflected in our online behavior. OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman looks into the futile attempts we make to protect our digital identities.
Johannes Brahms - Violin Concerto op.77 in D Major
I had been avoiding watching the inflammatory video posted on YouTube that has sparked anger and violence in Egypt and Libya this week (I had no interest in giving the nonsensical film any more attention than it has already been getting). But we are a media analysis show, and here at OTM we started doing some of our own digging into how this little known movie by a guy in California managed to get the attention of people on the other side of the world. As part of that research, one of my colleagues asked me to compare the original English trailer with a version dubbed in Arabic. Clips of the Arabic version had been shown on Egyptian television, and we were trying to see if the translation was accurate. From the clips that I saw, the translations seemed fine, but what I discovered was far more interesting than an inaccurate translation.
One year ago this week, Libyan rebels took control of the capital city Tripoli, ending the 42-year rule of Muammar al-Qaddafi. When the Libyan uprising began in February of 2011, OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman told us about Feb17voices, a project she was involved in to get information out of Libya during a media blackout. Last month, Sarah went to Tripoli to witness Libya's election and to meet the people behind the voices.
The song from this segment has no English title. Here it is in Arabic:
تعلى في العالي
So this is pretty unusual. I just got back to my hotel room and got a Skype call from John Scott-Railton, the guy behind @Jan25voices, who I work with on my @feb17voices Twitter feed. I was on a call with my mom so I didn't answer right away, but he sent me a frantic message saying that he just heard I was arrested.
Friday at Tahrir Square was intense. The sun, the crowds, the emotion. It was incredible to finally be in the center of it all, to be on the ground after having grown accustomed to the view from above that was broadcast all over the news during the revolution.
If time is money, then I think that dollars are not the only currency that we need to convert upon arriving in Egypt. We also have to convert our time currency, throwing out our very American desire to be on time (though admittedly I have never been able to quite master that skill even in the States.)
One thing we planned to do while in Egypt was to go to the University of Cairo's journalism school to see how media professionals are trained and talk to the new generation of would-be journalists. But when we got to town, we found out from another reporter that security on the campus was high and journalists were not being permitted. Turns out, like many other institutions in the country, the University of Cairo was dealing with its own mini-revolution, with student protesters holding a sit-in that has lasted for nearly a month, calling for the dean of the media school to step down.
Last night we finally got to meet Mona Seif, a 25-year-old Egyptian activist, blogger and tweep who spoke to OTM from Tahrir Square at the height of the revolution. And as if her digital activism wasn't enough, she also does a bit of breast cancer research on the side.
OTM has finally arrived in Cairo. Words can't describe this city and the energy felt all around us. Having never been to Cairo before, I can't say for sure if the excitement that I am feeling is a result of the recent revolution or is simply the status quo for this bustling metropolis, but I feel fairly certain that there is a newfound sense of optimism among Egyptians--despite the repeated acknowledgment from the people I have spoken with that there is still a great deal of work left to do.