Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thank You

The time has come for me say ‘Thank You!’ I might have said it to you individually or collectively here and there in private messages or tweets or status updates. Now it is time to share my gratitude with you publically and in details before I move on to writing and posting my analysis on a regular basis in this space.

My gratitude extends back to the first day I joined Facebook and later Twitter with the intention and excitement of meeting new people and engaging in unique and stimulating conversation. I can say with certainty that you all provided exactly what I expected and a whole lot more.

Even when I’m not engaging or sending updates, I spend a substantial amount of time at various hours of the day and night reading your tweets and checking your updates on Facebook. Over the last couple of years, I watched so many of you engage in thoughtful debates and timely conversations. I witnessed real friendships be born and I made a few of my own. When the debates got intense at times and involved several groups from different parts of the country and even the world, I followed more people who I thought were interesting whether I agreed with their views or not. To me, Twitter imitates life and we all have an invitation to join in or just watch from a distance. Those who have followed me for a while know that my choice was to engage, explore the exciting new territory and lead in learning this new media form.

Although I joined Twitter in 2008, I didn’t start actually tweeting until 2009. My first real tweeting experience took place around President Obama’s trip to the Middle East. I was looking for a fresh unique reaction and that’s exactly what Twitter delivered. Prior to that, I used to turn to the various regional media for reaction to events and I wanted to see what the internet community can give us that might be different. Days before the famous Cairo speech, I tweeted something like, “Are you Arab? Are you Muslim? Do you plan to listen to President Obama’s message?” The response was amazing, as people from Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, Egypt, the UK and the US responded. All of a sudden I found myself with a “team” of ordinary citizens from across the globe reacting to the speech in real time. The result was a brand new kind of reaction that is fresh and extremely interesting that even their local media didn’t provide. The reporting was so popular that I used the same model for a couple of major events after that.

As I met new people on Twitter I filed several stories leading up to Lebanon’s key parliamentary elections. Because I had a Twitter bird’s eye view on the situation, I was one of the few observers to predict a possible loss for Hezbollah when almost everyone was guaranteeing their win. That was another proof that keeping an eye on all sides leads to a fair view of any situation.

Then came Iran’s election and I again turned to Twitter for opinions and news. So, when the Iranian opposition took to the streets demanding that their vote counts and calling the Ahmadinejad win a fraud, on Twitter we had a sense of where the story was heading. When the Iranian government imposed censorship on media coverage of the demonstrations, ordinary Iranians turned their cell phone cameras into broadcasting machines. They beamed videos and images through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, to a world thirsty to know what’s going on inside this clergy-controlled country. Although I didn’t have direct contacts with demonstrators, I had established strong contacts in both camps; thanks to them I was able to report side by side the pro-government as well as the anti-government positions.

For those stories and the thrill of allowing me to be a part of them, I say, Thank You from the bottom of my heart.

So many stories we covered together and so many times I turned to you for ideas, you never disappointed me. I watched as your ideas burgeoned into great achievements and followed activists make a difference in a region that doesn’t encourage or even allow activism. I reported many times on your efforts and proclaimed on several occasions that Twitter is the voice of the voiceless. From jailed bloggers in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to an Afghan farmer beaten by UAE royalty, to political tensions in Lebanon and honor killing in Jordan, to violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to gays and lesbians rights in the entire Middle East region, to women’s issues, call for secularism, efforts to help Haiti flood victims. No matter what the news we had at hand, you made your voices heard and I listened with great interest and reported on most of it.

Then I became the news this summer and you showed me respect and support that I will never forget. You proved to the world that I had become your trusted source of information as much as you were mine. As I stayed away from the spotlight and was silent for a while, I didn’t stay away from you. I read everything you wrote to me and I’m grateful for your kindness and support. During the summer I was in Lebanon and that country’s Twitter community showered me with their love. It was wonderful to hang with all of them, professionals, intellectuals, poets, artists, marketers, designers, computer geeks, engineers, entrepreneurs, volunteers, teachers, journalists, photographers; What I always referred to as Lebanon’s “smart crowd” took me in their arms and made me feel right at home. To all of those tweeps, thank you very much.

Back home in the US, you welcomed me with open arms and cheered when I started tweeting again. You came in to my site in droves as soon as it launched. Judging by the stats, you are my largest audience and my loudest cheerleaders. The crux of my reporting will continue to bridge two worlds that I know so well. I have you to thank for inspiring this kind of bridge reporting over the years, but especially for helping me grow it into a beat all by itself.

The worlds of Twitter and Facebook are diverse. To those who follow me in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Nepal, you’ve provided me with quiet support which I know very well and respect. Forgive me if I didn’t answer messages or e-mails directly but I read them all and I appreciate you more than I can say.

I can’t forget the friends in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. If you follow me you’ll know them by name I’m sure. But beyond the vocal friends, there are many of you that I also want to share my gratitude with. I look forward to getting to know you better. Share with me and engage me in interesting topics and I'll follow you.

Thank you for the news, thank you for the good times, thank you for the friendships and most importantly, thank you for your support; it truly means the world to me!


Keep the conversation going...

Blogger The voice said...

You are more than welcome Octavia.

Maybe there should be a blog where we can thank you for all your hard work.
I grew up in Ceausescu's Romania, didn't had access to international news, in fact most of the news were about Ceausescu and the "record production" of crops.
In 1995 we finally had access to cable TV and CNN... I was on it all the possible time, eager to learn what's going on in the world. 3 journalists captivated me, Octavia Nasr, Christiane Amanpour and Jim Clancy, you guys took me through a whole new journey and showed me what the world is about...

Thank you Octavia for being a top class journalist, Thank you for all your hard work, and Thank you for being an amazing person.

I'm looking forward to more blogs and possibly a book.


September 21, 2010 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger FerFer1958 said...

"many voices from many places" is what everybody needs. I hope you channel those voices and allow for good discussions in multiple topics. The old media is not catching up with that concept fast enough (what do they know?).

keep the good work


September 21, 2010 at 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Mohammed said...

Looking forward to reading your articles and analysis. Congrats on the new site and blog. All the best :)

September 21, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

thank you for being part of our lives! keep up the good work!

September 22, 2010 at 5:28 AM  
Anonymous Ahmad Al-Shagra said...

It's good to have you back Octavia.

September 22, 2010 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Marina Mota said...

Friends are like angels. You were and will always be an angel to me. I will never forget the first time we met and all we've done for me since theN. THANK YOU for being this wonderful friend, professional and person.

September 23, 2010 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Ziad Salloum said...

Good luck Octavia

September 27, 2010 at 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please remain a journalist (and a good one) and dont turn into a new Oprah. Report the news, dont make it. I wish you all the best.

September 29, 2010 at 5:38 AM  
Anonymous Linda Kaiss Saab said...

We are so proud of you and wish you great success.

January 19, 2011 at 12:16 AM  

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