Be­hind the story

Friday - - Society -

mov­ing to be­gin study­ing. She went to the Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity in Vir­ginia, where she re­ceived a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Eco­nom­ics be­fore grad­u­at­ing from the renowned In­sti­tut d’Études Poli­tiques de Paris.

De­spite not study­ing jour­nal­ism, it was this pro­fes­sion that was un­de­ni­ably Hala’s pas­sion and since her first foray into the world of news, she has de­voted her life to the job.

“I al­ways loved telling sto­ries,” she says. “Even as a child. What in­spired me first was the hap­pi­ness I felt when I was able to bring news to some­body, it’s some­thing I un­der­stood from a very young age.”

Hala took her first ten­ta­tive steps into a world that would soon de­fine her en­tire ca­reer when she ac­cepted a job as a print jour­nal­ist for the French daily La Voix du Nord and well­renowned news agency Agence France Presse (AFP), a mo­ment she re­calls with clar­ity.

“I re­mem­ber the first-ever wire I wrote for AFP that had my ini­tials on it,” she adds. “I was 21 years old and it was the hap­pi­est I had ever been in my life.”

From there Hala’s ca­reer moved in leaps and bounds and with a trilin­gual grasp of French, English and Ara­bic her ca­reer path al­most seemed pre­des­tined. A stint at French net­work France 3 fol­lowed by an an­chor­ing role at Bloomberg Tele­vi­sion in Lon­don even­tu­ally meant Hala was snapped up by CNN where, along­side an­chor­ing main­stream news, she hosted spe­cial­ist Mid­dle East pro­grammes.

She cur­rently an­chors the In­ter­na­tional Desk hav­ing pre­vi­ously co-hosted YourWorld To­day with Jim Clancy. And since join­ing CNN in 1998, Hala hasn’t looked back.

“CNN has been my fam­ily now for more than 15 years,” she notes loy­ally and it’s no won­der – un­der the net­work’s wing she has grown into both a for­mi­da­ble an­chor and an es­teemed cor­re­spon­dent.

Over the past decade Hala has cov­ered ev­ery Mid­dle East­ern coun­try, and has re­ported from the most dan­ger­ous places in the world to keep view­ers in­formed on the sto­ries mak­ing his­tory. She was in­stru­men­tal in CNN’s cov­er­age of the Arab Spring and her re­ports from the re­volt in Egypt earned the or­gan­i­sa­tion a Pe­abody Award. In 2010, Hala cov­ered the dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in Haiti, for which CNN’s cov­er­age was recog­nised with a Golden Nymph Award, one of the high­est hon­ours in in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ism.

Prior to that in 2006 CNN re­ceived an Ed­ward R Murrow Award for her cov­er­age of the Le­banon-Is­rael war. “That was one of the most defin­ing mo­ments in my ca­reer,” she says, “be­cause it’s a war I cov­ered from be­gin­ning to end on the Le­banon side. I felt like what we were do­ing was im­por­tant, it made a dif­fer­ence and for our Amer­i­can au­di­ence, it re­ally ex­plained the story well to them. I was very proud of our work.”

Be­ing at home with un­der­stand­ing and re­lay­ing the of­ten com­plex pol­i­tics of the Mid­dle East al­lowed Hala to take up the cov­eted po­si­tion of host for CNN’s In­side theMid­dle East. Five years at the helm of the monthly show that

Hala says it’s be­com­ing ex­tremely hard from a per­son­alsafety stand­point to cover con­flict in this re­gion

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