An Open Line To War-Torn Yemen

Colt Jimenez interviews Emmy nominated Yemeni journalist Ahmad Algohbary about his career as a freelance journalist in covering the devastating crisis in Yemen.

Yemen is a country that has been politically unstable dating back to the 1960s. Armed conflict emerged at an even higher level in 2014. The country is now experiencing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. Nearly one third of the people in Yemen face severe food insecurity. The entire nation is in a constant state of fear, not knowing where the next missile will strike.

Inside the country Ahmad Algohbary tweets (above) and reports from the front lines detailing the realities of citizens within fresh ruble. Since 2015, Algohbary has worked for prestigious media organizations such as The Guardian, Al Jazeera English and The World (below).

How did you find your career in journalism? Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist? Do you prefer freelance journalism over established journalism? Why?

I started to tweet about my country of Yemen in 2015 then in 2016 or 17 one of the Guardian journalists contacted me and wanted me to write a first report about a crime that was committed by the Saudi coalition.. So the first report was in The Guardian and then I liked journalism. I continued writing and tweeting and also doing documentaries [including 360 ones] and selling photos. I shot one documentary [Yemen’s Skies of Terror] which got nominated for an Emmy. It was a good step in my journalism life. I prefer freelance because I can write for any newspaper, or if any newspaper or someone wants me to write for them. But if there is a good salary … I could change.

How has the landscape of journalism changed since you’ve joined the industry? Do you perceive these changes as good or bad?

In recent days and years it’s less than before. At the beginning there was a lot of new work to do but not as much anymore. That’s why as a journalist I’m looking around. It’s been like four or five years and they don’t care. Not like before.

Your work generally highlights injustices faced by Yemenis citizens. Would you say your primary goal as a journalist is to expose such injustices? What other guiding factors shape your writing?

I always liked to write about humanitarian causes, what people are suffering from. What is happening in some people’s lives in some parts. I’m also writing about the Saudi coalition intervention in Yemen because it affected my cities and the cities I lived in from the heavy bombardment to the many crimes.

As someone who has seen the atrocities firsthand, how do you go about showcasing what you’re seeing to people who have never seen the extreme levels of death and destruction?

… I don’t change anything, I just show what actually happens. No matter what I do … there is a lot of tragedy we don’t know about. There are people starving in houses, starving, eating tree leaves to survive. Imagine that a family couldn’t ask anyone for money to eat and they starved in a dignified way and were silent. It’s very difficult. I have seen blood and body parts and crime scenes. Seeing these things changed my life. I have nightmares of the body parts and a lot of other things. There is all death, and hunger around you. What can you do?

Q and A reporting by Colt Jimenez for the Reynolds Sandbox

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The Reynolds Sandbox showcases innovative and engaging storytelling by students with the Reynolds Media Lab.

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