Sources and Methods #19: Naheed Mustafa

The Struggle Over Jihad by Naheed Mustafa

Naheed on Twitter (her account)

Naheed on Tumblr

5:54 - It’s easier to stay with a story when you have a character that you can associate yourself with. But I feel like that’s also become a bit of a problem. When, for example, you do what I just did - you refer to real people as characters, it in many ways diminishes the importance of the story because you end up in a place where you really work on the craft of storytelling rather than highlighting the actual issue or the problem.

8:40 - We’ve come to have this almost sort of fetish around technology, and using the technology to drive the story-telling rather than the other way around.

10:07 - It used to be that we (radio journalists) were competing with Youtube. Now we’re competing with Vine!

12:53 - When I start piecing stories together, I storyboard everything. Scene by scene, a flowchart almost. And then I write each of these blocks separately, and then piece it all together.

16:45 - Unless you’re Nelson Mandela, nobody cares about your opinion (inside of your own work).

27:01 - One of the problems that’s happened, and it’s been a shift for a variety of reasons...There’s been this shift of magazines and places that are looking for long-form writing looking to writers, so fiction writers, to write about politics. So you’ll get somebody who has written novels in Pakistan to write about the current political crisis in Pakistan. What ends up happening is you end up with these beautiful pieces of literature which may or may not be adding anything to the conversation about what’s happening politically, but what it does is it kind of games the system for journalists, because then we’re like, we’re being asked to submit work that can compete with that on a literary level but, well, we’re not that. That’s not what we do. It’s become quite difficult.

29:45 - (on her role as a journalist) What I’m trying to do is illuminate. I don’t see my role as trying to convince anyone of anything... People should have informed opinions.

32:06 - I think objectivity is a myth. We curate and distill and editorialize (even) through the process of creating… the problem comes when we pretend we’re objective.

44:30 - The second you end up representing something specific in a newsroom, you end up running that desk.

Naheed’s crowdfunding effort to fund her work - page here

48:02 - It’s become increasingly difficult in journalism to really make a decent living doing this work. And I’ve always worked freelance, so I’ve always had to grapple with this question. So what you’ll see now is that a lot of journalism schools will have programs for journalists as entrepreneurs, and try to get them some business skills to help. Most of the freelance journalists I know who really make a go of it spend half or three-quarters of their time doing corporate work. And most of the people I know find it a little soul-sucking. Corporate work, or getting a teaching job, this gives you the income to keep going. Again, it’s the work that you want to do and the work that you have to do.

56:47 - I use Twitter in a variety of ways. One of things I was surprised to learn is that people were actually reading my tweets... Another lesson is that people don’t read more than one tweet at a time. I use it as a source of news, what are people sharing. I also use it as a way to highlight the work of others, which I think is really important.

1:06:45 - I really am a deadline driven person. In terms of workflow, it really does shift according to project. I don’t have a specific way of working. My work really depends on the medium I’m working in - print vs. radio vs. research. I wish I had more of a uniform system, that I could really plug myself into.

Naheed’s Books:


Cities of Salt

Muhammad The Last Prophet


Matt’s Pick:

The Practicing Mind


Naheed’s Films:

Kill Bill - Volume I

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective


Alex’s Pick:

Cortex Podcast


Naheed’s Music:

Soundtrack to Pakiza