Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Application for Middle East Correspondent



On December 16, the Los Angeles Times posted an opening for a new Middle East Correspondent.
The Los Angeles Times is looking for a seasoned reporter to cover the Middle East.

This correspondent will anchor our coverage of the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as monitoring the turbulent progress of “democracy” in Egypt, North Africa and the Gulf. But more than that, we are looking for an accomplished writer who is capable of plunging into these ancient and dazzling cultures, capturing their mesmerizing variety, deep intellectual history, turbulent social upheaval and — from ISIS insurgents to entrenched dictators — their capability for brutish violence.

The successful candidate will be the one who avoids the office and wanders the back roads; who will leave the others to tally the daily mayhem and bring us stories we will not have the power to forget.

Fluency in Arabic is strongly preferred. Home base is negotiable. Please apply to Kim Murphy, assistant managing editor for foreign and national news.
After a week of contemplation I finally decided to apply. Here's my Cover Letter. Please wish me luck!

Dear Kim,

I consider myself seasoned - well at least lightly seasoned- especially at the time of the holiday season, and so I thought why not: maybe I should apply to be the Middle East Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. What can I tell you - I have always loved living in the Middle East ever since my first visit to Damascus in 2003. I have travelled from Baghdad to Agrabah and everywhere in between over the last decade or so. Along the way I too have learned to put things like "democracy" in quotes. Sometimes I put it in double quotation marks because "democracy" that is imported can become an even more interesting version of ""democracy."" But that is neither here nor there. I too agree with you that the only thing really worth covering in this region - besides the contested debate over Hommus in my humble opinion - are the "ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria" and the "turbulent progress of democracy in Egypt, North Africa, and the Gulf." What better way to ensure that the readers of the Los Angeles Times have an in-depth understanding of the region than to ensure they only hear about those specific issues? However, I know you are looking for "more than that" from the new correspondent. An accomplished writer? Sure let's check that box. Capable of plunging into ancient and dazzling cultures? I have been known to take the plunge but only rarely dazzle. By the way normally when someone refers to ancient and dazzling, I don't really think of the Middle East but maybe Jack Nicholson. Nevertheless I feel you about this place. I too love its "mesmerizing variety" and "deep intellectual history", topics that are almost superfluously covered in the pages of the LA Times.

Allow me at this point to pivot to what I think is my defining characteristic - and a key characteristic for anyone who writes about these Middle Eastern "dazzling cultures": my ability to understand "their capability for brutish violence." I know you are looking for a focus on ISIS insurgents and entrenched dictators but what about Jafar the sinister wicked Vizier? Or how about further afield, Scar and his brutish attack on Simba and Mufasa? Or Shere Khan - does anyone really understand why he went after Baloo? What caused him to choose violent extremism? I'm sorry, I digress. Getting back to the point: I am your man, your successful candidate. Just as the doctor ordered, I always avoid the office. I don't really wander the back roads - do you? What do you do there? Finally I wholeheartedly support your call: who needs to tally the mayhem when we can indulge on stories to give us the power to forget.

Should you find my candidacy deserving, please be in touch with me and I will fly my carpet right over for an interview.

Sincerely,

Taufiq

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