Broadening horizons on the web

"One of the best things about my job is helping people make their voices heard", says Tinia Nassif, one of three video journalists at AnnaharTV in Lebanon. "I think it is very important to develop video journalism in the Arab world because the Arab countries need to improve; we need to broaden our horizons while still keeping the beautiful traditions that make this culture unique."

APN: Acclaimed video journalist David Dunkley visited An-Nahar recently. What lessons did you learn from him? How has this affected the way you work?

Tinia Nassif: The first thing I noticed about David was how passionate he was. Seeing that made me realize how much I've been missing out on, how very passionless my job had become since I first started. That made all the difference for me. Without passion, nothing is worthwhile.

As a teacher, he made us see things from a different perspective, which was quite interesting and something we obviously were in great need of. I learnt to broaden my horizons, not to stay or think inside the box but out of it. We had a practical exercise where David showed me how he worked, and I showed him how I worked. He pointed out a few mistakes and made me see things in a different way. I try to make better and different videos now that he's shared a few of his secrets with us. And ever since, not only is the number of views of my videos growing day by day, but I also keep getting messages from our viewers saying how much they enjoyed them and how much it meant to them. I think that tops it all!

APN: What were your thoughts on joining the AnnaharTV team?

Tinia Nassif: All I knew about An-Nahar was that it was one of the most important newspapers in town. It has a pretty good reputation, and the opportunity to work there was like the golden star on my resume. Being part of the team that created its web TV was quite a thrill, especially since it's the first one in the Middle East, making me one of the first video journalists in the region.

APN: What were the challenges for you personally?

Tinia Nassif: This may sound strange but overcoming my shyness was a big challenge for me. I am very shy, but I hide it well. I still find it hard to talk to random people on the streets. Apart from that, we still have a lot to do to make this work, but I'm sure we'll get there.

APN: What was the last assignment you worked on?

Tinia Nassif: My last assignment was about the Beiteddine Festival. Beiteddine is a mountain village in Lebanon that has a very old castle, where every summer, they organize a festival with musicians and artists from all over the world. I've been going to that festival ever since I was a child. This year, French comedian Gad El Maleh was supposed to perform there, but was forced to cancel for political reasons. I interviewed the organizer of the festival about this affair. The Beiteddine festival is meant to make Lebanon more open to different cultures, and to tourists, as well. Some Lebanese refused to welcome Gad to Lebanon, and this is unfortunate.

APN: Describe in steps how you produce a video, from idea to web posting

Tinia Nassif: Once I come up with an idea, I start seeing images in my head. I make the contacts that I need, organize the interviews and film them. When I film, the images in my head obviously become clearer, and I start to think of how to edit. I sometimes film more than I need to, something I have to stop doing, or else David wouldn't be proud. When I'm done filming, I head back to the office and start editing. Then I work on the sound, add the music when needed, render, export and upload. I also try to write a witty text for Youtube to attract viewers.

APN: What is the best thing about your job?

Tinia Nassif: The best thing about my job is helping people make their voices heard, like NGO's for example. The second best part is meeting a lot of cool people and spending as little time as possible in the office.

APN: What is it like cooperating with the traditional journalists at the newspaper? Are they skeptical, willing to learn?

Tinia Nassif: The journalists I work with are great, amazing people who respect my job and see it as it is: a different way of covering the news, not a way to make their jobs disappear. Some of them are really interested in what we do, they watch our videos as often as possible, try to give us advice and ideas, offer help whenever needed. Other journalists who do not really like the idea of a web TV consider our project more or less a waste of time. But none of them think that we are taking their jobs, as far as I know.

APN: Why is it important to develop video journalism in the Arab world?

Tinia Nassif: I think it is very important to develop video journalism in the Arab world because the Arab countries need to improve; we need to broaden our horizons while still keeping the beautiful traditions that make this culture unique. I am proud of being a part of this web TV project in Lebanon, the first country in the Middle East to start something different and unique and I hope it won't stop here.

This article was republished with permission from The Arab Press Network (APN), a web portal by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).