Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

July 28, 2011

Embracing otherness: Nadia Al Sakkaf

by Pat Mitchell

The third speaker featured in my session on EMBRACING OTHERNESS at TEDGlobal was Nadia Al Sakkaf, the Executive Editor of the Yemen Times. It would be impossible, after all, to talk about otherness and not reflect on the differences that are driving so much change and conflict in the Middle East. Nadia offered us a view inside Yemen that shattered a few stereotypes widely held about this poorest country in the region. Nadia, herself, is a walking/talking example of a very different Yemeni woman than we might envision, were we to only watch American media. Blending old and new, she dresses traditionally in the hijab with covered arms and legs, but she is a transformative force in her country.

Nadia became editor of the Yemen Times, the only independent, English-language paper in the country, in 2005. Her father founded the paper and was its editor and publisher until his untimely death at age 46 in a traffic accident in 1999. She had to prove a young woman could run a media company, could manage a staff of men and women, and could become a leading voice for revolution and change inside and outside Yemen. Nadia told of firing half the men at the paper because they could not adapt to working for a woman and to telling the women who she hired, "You cannot wear the veil at work." Nadia sparked revolutionary changes at her paper that seem to match the revolution taking place in the streets. Nadia urged western press to stop "otherizing" Yemen, especially its women and its young people, because they are the "Other Yemen," the one being born out of the conflict.

Nadia wowed the TED audience with her directness, strength, but also with her easy smile and good humor. We were all left with a nagging worry that her high profile position and forthrightness make her a target for recriminations from those who resist change. See it for yourself:



Stay tuned for more of our compelling speakers' stories and lessons.

tags: TEDGlobal, otherness, Nadia Al Sakkaf

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Pat Connects

Pat Mitchell, President & CEO, The Paley Center for Media

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Since assuming her current role as president and chief executive officer of The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) in March 2006, Pat Mitchell has guided the thirty-four-year old institution through an exciting rebranding effort and strengthened its public and industry programs by analyzing and interpreting the immense changes in the media landscape. Under her leadership, the Paley Center has become a major convener for media leaders and enthusiasts, continuing to offer its unrivaled collection of radio, television, and advertising content as a lens for exploring the powerful impact of media on our lives, culture, and society. Pat Mitchell was named to Newsweek's 2011 list of 150 Women Who Shake the World.

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