Friday, May 30, 2008


The cutting edge of fashion: Hala Gorani and Design 360.

Every Sunday on CNN, Hala Gorani lifts the lid on the complex world of design in Design 360. Seeking out experts in every field from architecture to gadgets, from fashion to travel, the show crosses the globe to investigate the creative process, the social context and ultimately, the business of design.

A feature of every program sees Gorani interview one of the great names from the world of design, and the past 12 months have seen her speak to the most influential and powerful names. From the world of fashion alone, she has spoken to Donatella Versace, Miuccia Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Karl Lagerfield, Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Vivienne Westwood and Bridgitte Bardot.
Over the program’s first year, Gorani has also interviewed celebrated architects and designers, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Philippe Starck, Lord Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas.

"Meeting great names in design or fashion is like talking to the inventor of the kitchen blender: you meet the human face behind objects you’ve used for years, chairs you’ve sat in and that have become staples of interiors around the world."

Given the fact that it surrounds us and makes our lives so much easier, design is an art form which has not featured in the media as much as one might expect, as Gorani explains:
"Design is virtually unrepresented on television. When was the last time you saw a story on who designed the suitcase with wheels that you can’t live without?

"Somebody had to come up with that idea, build a prototype and then mass-produce it. Design on television is often restricted to fashion and furniture.

"What we have done is give viewers the inside story on all aspects of design: but it’s not fluff: it’s a look at how science, art and creativity help build life-changing products."

These "life-changing products" feature in regular segments of the program including "Prototype" that looks at the latest in high-tech gadgets, gizmos and furniture, and "Design Icon" that looks at classic designs which have grown from a niche interest to mass market appeal.

Gorani, in common with everyone else, has design classics she cannot live without, and as a CNN anchor and reporter her choice is perhaps not surprising: "The suitcase and a mobile phone pouch."

Design 360 airs on Sundays, 1:30 p.m.

© COPYRIGHT 2003 Financial Times Ltd. (From BusinessWorld (Philippines))

Note: I removed this article from the INTERVIEWS section because of trouble with the link.


In "Forward Magazine":

Gaza Plunged Into Darkness
Souvenir From Baghdad
A Tale of Two Moroccos
Diary From Egypt


CNN and BBC at Rick's Cafe

Promotional Article for March 2006 Episode, Bahraini.TV

Monday, May 19, 2008



Swiss News, January/Febuary 2002

With its new crew of young female anchors, CNN has shed ita rather no nonsense image. But these talking heads are much more than just pretty faces.

On September 11 thousands of people all over Switzerland raced to their television sets. Most of them who understand English tuned in to CNN International. Where else would you turn for a minute-by-minute chronicle of the drama unfolding in New York and Washington and, soon thereafter, in Afghanistan?

Those who hadn't viewed the network for a while--as many of us hadn't, given the relatively quiet state of the globe before 9/11-may have noticed a not-so-subtle change. The network's anchor desk is decked out with an array of fresh faces, and not just any faces. They're young, attractive, mostly female, and recruited from every corner of the globe.

"These days CNN looks, if you'll pardon the expression, like an International Babes Calendar," says Robert Thompson, founding director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at the Newhouse School for Public Communications, Syracuse University, U.S.A. "But these women they've found are not just good-looking--they are also really good journalists, well deserving of the anchor rule."

Take Zain Verjee, an Atlanta-based anchor recruited from Nairobi a year ago. She's all of 27 years old, has raven black hair, huge soulful eyes, and a 1000. Watt smile. But that's not all. "Verjee is smart, she's interesting, and she's a lively interviewer. I would rather listen to what she has to say than to Dan Rather any day-and not because she has a pretty face," says Thompson, who was interviewed by Verjee about the Bin Laden tapes in December.

Then there's Tumi Makgabo, a stunning South African (also just this side of 27) who also joined the Atlanta team in 2000. Her satiny complexion and heart-melting delivery of late-breaking news prompts a suitor a day, more or less, to propose marriage to her by e-mail. (They're out of luck. Makgabo is already married and has three children.) But Makgabo is also a tough-minded reporter who can switch gears in a heart. beat when a new story breaks in the middle of her watch, as it did on more than one occasion this fall during the Afghanistan crisis.

Corporate strategy

The selection of Verjee and Makgabo to hold the anchor desk at the CNN Center in Atlanta and other stunners like Hala Gorani and Juanita Phillips for the London bureau are part of an overall strategy. "We want to develop the CNN brand as a sharp, focussed, sassy news service. And we want our anchors to be people who are engaged and engaging. People you want to spend time with. And so we have been looking for people with energy, who have a certain crackle," says CNN senior vice president Tony Maddox, who oversees the version of CNN viewed in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Why, suddenly, all the anchors with movie-star good looks? "Lets get real, We are talking about the TV business. It's not a revelation that we need good looking people. But we don't just offer good looks--these are men and women with great skills," Maddox says.

The cultural and racial rainbow greeting viewers these days also is no accident. "This is an international network, and we want it to feel like one. We are malting an effort to get a mix," Maddox adds.

A single word explains why CNN felt obliged to trade it's once-crusty image as a hard-nosed team devoted to the news, and nothing but the news, for a sleeker more polished look: competition.

For a number of years CNN had the international 24-hour news platform to itself. The network first emerged as a major player a decade ago during the Gulf War. In those days, CNN ostensibly made no effort to showcase attractive people. Instead it featured reporters with iron clad news credentials but looks that were nothing to write home about--people like Wolf Blitzer and Bernie Shaw. "They didn't have to worry about personality--they were alone Out there," says Thompson.

But in the mid-nineties, MSNBC came along with a more user-friendly format, like the running headlines now ubiquitous on 24-hour news networks, and offering regular features about celebrities. "A lot of it was pretty cheesy, but it started to bring in viewers," comments Thompson.

Then Fox arrived on the scene with its own 24-hour network. Now CNN was sharing the 24-hour news slot with two players, both of which played hard bail. Both brought in celebrity journalists. At MSNBC there was the blond and poised Jane Pauley--former host of the Today Show, the most popular early morning news feature show in the U.S. Fox had former sensationalist talk-show host Geraldo Rivera--the butt of many jokes but nonetheless a draw.

"The top execs at CNN recognised they had to make a move," says Thompson. "They weren't about go give up their franchise as the world's most serious international news network and go the route of entertainment. Instead, they offered viewers something nice to look at."

The strategy seems to be working. During the Gulf War, CNN had a viewership of 7 million in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and the Middle East. last year it was up to 150 million. CNN International has the highest viewership, and has the largest online news audience in Europe.

Surveys by CNN of its own audience have found that viewers typically are affluent, aged 30 to 49 (average age 43), educated, fluent in English, business decision-makers, and frequent travellers. In the network's infancy as an international medium, it primarily drew an audience of business travellers, most of them Americans, who usually caught the news in hotel rooms. Today, 99 percent of CNN's viewers live in the country where they watch the network. The vast majority are male. "This demographic explains, of course, why the network has recruited so many young, attractive female journalists in recent times," says Thompson.

CNN today also strives to avoid the feel of an American medium, even though its mother company is based in Atlanta. When you watch CNN from Switzerland, it's not easy to tell where the person on the screen is sitting-London or Atlanta. "That's a look we strive for. When I am sitting at the anchor desk in Atlanta, I feel like I could be anywhere. And I think that's how the network appears to others. CNN creates a cosmopolitan feeling," says Makgabo. "We don't want people to think of CNN as American. We are an international network that happens to be in U.S.," agrees Verjee.

A challenging pitch

Like all other mass media, news networks always have their audience in mind. What will keep them tuned in? That's not so difficult to fathom when you are pitching to a single region or even a single country. But deciding how to formulate the news to people scattered over four continents is another matter. CNN has as its mission to figure out, day by day, which stories seem most important to people all over the world. And now the network has made it a priority to serve up those stories as attractively as possible. For Thompson, the CNN shift serves as proof that market forces and pragmatic decisions don't end necessarily in disaster. "You have to admire them," says Thompson. "You can find lots of beautiful broadcasters and a fair number of competent broadcasters. But to find both? That's not easy."

Zain Verjee

A native of Nairobi who completed her university education in Canada, Verjee came to CNN in 2000 from Kenyan Television Network (KTN). Within a year of her arrival in Atlanta she rose to the position of international anchor and presenter of the "Q&A" show. Verjee already has to her credit a number of landmark interviews with world figures, including the European Union Security Chief Javier Solana, the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and David Trimble, the First Minister of Northern Ireland. Her style is to dribble around her interviewees with her dimply charm, then slam dunk her tough questions. Especially memorable was her chat last fall with the President of Sri Lanka Chankdrika Kumaratunga, whose political fortunes have plunged in the face of her country's economic crisis and the severe military reverses suffered by her army against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. At one point, Verjee suddenly shifted direction away from matters Sri Lankan and asked, "Looking back, is there anything yon would change about your life?"' Kumaratunga looked non-plussed, and stumbled over her reply. "I got the sense she thought the interview with me would be a breeze." Says Verjee. Did it occur to Verjee beforehand that she might catch Kumarantunga off guard with her own youthful charm? "One always uses the things one has to one's advantage," she admits.

Tumi Makgabo

Makgabo, who grew up in Pretoria, was 20 when South Africa had the first Free elections in which non-whites could vote. And of course, like other Black South Africans, she had to take on her education more or less single handedly. The only university education available to her was correspondence school. She fell into journalism by chance when she went to work on a local TV station in Johannesburg because she needed a job to support her law studies. One day they asked her to fill in at the anchor desk when someone was away. Before long she was anchoring the channel's prime time evening news. CNN became interested when recruiters, looking for talent in Africa, saw one of her tapes. Makgabo finds it unnerving to think of the numbers of people to whom she broadcasts. "I try imagine I am talking to my husband and kids and friends." Now she sits at the international anchor desk in Atlanta and hosts a weekly news programme about Africa.

Juanita Phillips

Phillips, a native of Australia, anchors World News Europe, CNN's European focused evening news show and presents Inside Europe, CNN's weekly European economic, social and cultural show. Prior to this Phillips presented CNN's European breakfast news programme CNN This Morning for two years. Phillips started her journalism career at the Courier-Mail newspaper in Queensland, where she was a well-known writer and columnist, before moving to television for Sky News Australia. She came to London in 1997 to try her hand at international journalism and joined CNN in 1998. Since then the also has served as an international correspondent, covering breaking stories like the Kosovo War, the allied bombing campaign against Iraq, the Turkish earthquake and the fall of Milosevic. Young, attractive anchors, she says, are hired by CNN only when they show they can do the job. "CNN is tough. You have to know international affairs, and you have to be a solid interviewer. Anyone who is hired to work here has to work hard and do lots of homework."

Hala Gorani

Born in the U.S., Gorani spent her early years between France and Switzerland, eventually landing in college hack in the States. She first worked as a journalist in Paris before moving to London to report for Bloomberg TV and later CNN. You'd never know French is her primary language to hear her crisp American English-but the chic cut of her blazers and jewellry choices have the Paris touch. She is best known to Swiss viewers as the anchor of the World Business Today programme. "What we try to do on that show is tell people, quickly and efficiently, what happened during the day in the business world, We don't try to compete with the 24 hour-a-day business networks. Instead, we try to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who wants all the important business news in a half hour," Gorani explains. Gorani doesn't just read the news--she routinely invites experts from the business banking, and investment communities to shed light on a breaking story. Europe is the strongest focus of the programme. And of course, this fall, Switzerland was often a prominent feature-not for the happiest of reasons. "Swissair, in particular, was a very big story for us."

Friday, May 16, 2008


Broadside Interviews Mason Alumna at CNN
By Absalan Jafree, Broadside Staff Writer
BROADSIDE, 10 April 2006
She is a journalist based in Atlanta, Ga. The authoritative face of a global news channel, she has been labeled "stern on-air, charming off-air" by one newspaper.But if Hala Gorani were to pass through the Fairfax campus, would students or faculty give her a second glance?
Hala who, you ask?
As an anchor on CNN International, Gorani can be seen by over 180 million people around the world including Fairfax County on channel 251 (Cox Digital Cable). Above all, she is a George Mason University graduate. Broadside caught up with Hala for a special question and answer session.

Broadside: Professors, students and even the alumni office at Mason did not recognize your name. What’s going on?
Hala Gorani: Gee, thanks for the ego boost! Part of the reason may be that I was enrolled under the name Hala Basha while at GMU. The other reason may be that I appear mainly on CNN International, not widely seen in the U.S. But starting Monday, April 3, I'll be the regular co-host of Your World Today, which will also air on CNN USA every weekday at noon.

B: When did you attend Mason and what was your experience like?
HG: I attended Mason from 1988 to 1992. I graduated with a BS in Economics. The education I received at Mason in my chosen field of economics was top notch. The professors and the curriculum in that department gave me an excellent academic grounding that has served me well in my subsequent studies and later, in my job. I lived on campus only for the first semester, then moved closer to D.C. until graduation. I wasn't all that involved in campus activities apart from a staff job at Broadside.

B: You studied in Paris after earning an economics degree. What did you do there?
HG: I attended Sciences Po in Paris and studied political science. I was raised in France and always wanted my education to be both American and French.

B: Now that we have answers to some very essential questions, with your current job in mind, introduce yourself to the university; who is Hala Gorani and what does she do?
HG: I am an anchor on CNN International and I host a show called Inside the Middle East. I travel to the region almost every month from Atlanta. I also do some reporting from the Middle East and France. I have more air miles than my entire family could use in a lifetime.

B: Tell us about your background, where did you grow up?
HG: I was born in Seattle to Syrian parents, then moved to Algeria for a few years. I was mainly raised in Paris, France. That is still the city I consider my home. I root for the French team in World Cup soccer competitions. Allez les Bleus!

B: How did you get into the journalism field?
HG: I got into journalism by writing for Broadside!My first piece was an opinion column on the advantages of an ethnically diverse learning environment. I still have the clipping. I then worked for years in print before getting my first real TV job at Bloomberg in London. I then started working for CNN in London ... almost nine years ago.

B: What have been the biggest accomplishments in your career?
HG: Writing long form international stories that put a human face on news events. Fortunately, there is room for that type of journalism on CNN International. It's a shame many other networks have dropped out of that game completely.

B: Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?HG: Hopefully, doing what I am doing now, only better.B: What do you consider to be the worlds biggest problem?
HG: Intolerance and intransigence.

B: Mason is finally on the national map courtesy of the basketball team. What do you make of the schools new found success?
HG: I'm in awe of the basketball team. I'm not an expert, but that game against [the University of Connecticut] had me jumping up and down like I was on a spring.
And now people won't ask me "You mean George Washington?" when I say I went to Mason. They'll say "Oh the school with the powerhouse basketball team!" GO PATRIOTS!

Currently, the Braodside Archives at George Mason University is under construction. When it is up again, I will remove this posting and add the article to the "Interviews" section with the proper link.



They’re bold, outspoken and go-getters. Breaking boundaries against all odds has become second nature for women in the Middle East.

Arabian Woman pays tribute to 30 women whose stories and achievements and have influenced inspired us.

Hala Gorani
Syrian-things. American Hala Gorani is a rising star at CNN. Interviews with presidents, fashion designers and film stars under her belt, the satellite channel is now grooming her for great Blonde and blue-eyed, Hala was born in Seattle to Syrian parents who had instilled, early on, in her the value of hard work and proper education. A straight A’s student, in the early days, she did have her fair share of grim jobs. "My first ever on-air experience was on a radio show for young people, broadcast out of a Paris hospital," she recalls, "It was dreary and depressing; you had to walk down these long hallways to get to this tiny little booth with a microphone. I did a movie review, but it was so bad. After the first experience, though, the second experience is always better, and that gave me hope."

In 1996, Hala left Paris for London, where she joined business channel Bloomberg Television, as an anchorwoman on business and financial news reports. Two years later, she joined CNN International in London, reporting and presenting business news. Since then, Hala’s career has gone from strength to strength. From covering business and interviewing financial analysts, she is seizing the opportunity to anchor hard news bulletins.

She also gets to spend more time doing in-depth interviews, travelling across Europe to meet the biggest names in design, fashion and architecture. But although she relishes her new role, her first love is news analysis. "I really like Hard Talk presenter Tim Sebastian," she says. "You know you’ll get a balanced view. Even if he has an opinion, he is so attached to his image as a ferocious interviewer that he interviews everyone ferociously." One wonders, what’s next for this wonder woman?

To read the rest, pick up our March issue, on shelves now.


This article may only be accessed by signing up for the Daily Star Lebanon archive.

Syrian-American CNN anchor sacrifices personal life for career
By Nada Bakri Daily Star staff
Wednesday, March 01, 2006

For Syrian-American Hala Gorani, a reporter and anchor for CNN International, portraying events fairly and accurately has been her reward for putting numerous aspects of her personal life on hold and making several sacrifices.

Not only is her profession fun, she says, but more importantly it stimulates her intellectually. However, she notes that her busy schedule means she is still single at the age of 36.

"It is very fun, stimulating and interesting," she says. "You would not do a job like this and put other aspects of your life clearly on hold if not for the right reasons."

Blonde and blue-eyed, Gorani was born in the U.S. to Syrian parents and spent her childhood bouncing between Washington and France. She says her heart "has always been a Middle Eastern one."

She joined CNN International eight years ago as a morning anchor, but was obviously fast-tracked for stardom as only eight years later she became World News anchor, in addition to presenting "Inside the Middle East," a half-hour program featuring stories on the most important social and cultural issues in the region.

Gorani says her interest has always been focused on the Middle East, which she believes is "going through a rebirth." "In every rebirth there are some contractions and pain. I think the region is going through that phase currently and I hope these yield to something positive at the end," she says.

Although she said that access to governmental institutions can be difficult and official reactions are not only slow but also "stock-answers," she noted a progress and huge difference between how quick one can get a comment today versus 10 years ago.

"I have found that even in Syria I can get a governmental reaction in five minutes, 10 years ago it would take you a week to get one," she says.

The reason behind that evolution, she says, is because Arab satellite channels have developed in "an extremely professional way, somehow forcing their governments to react quicker."

Recent years and the so-called war on terror have seen CNN attract criticism from the Middle East for its coverage of regional events since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S.

The channel has been accused of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias, but Gorani rejects this accusation and her answer to her accusers is simply "watch my program."

She says she has "absolutely all the freedom to do anything" she wants and adds that never have any of her reports been censored or cancelled.

Gorani says what makes her professional is her constant battle to neutralize her opinions as much as possible and to give fair representation for everyone in her reports.

She describes herself as an independent observer whose "fair and accurate contribution" to the global pool of information alters this pool in a positive way.

"When I bring into light a problem, an issue, a frustration or even something positive that is going on I positively contribute to the worldwide pool of information and by doing so I become an active and productive member of the society," she says.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


One To Watch
Arabian Woman, April (?) 2002

Syrian-American Hala Gorani is a rising star at CNN. With interviews from presidents to fashion designers and film stars under her belt, the satellite channel is grooming her for greater things. Karen Thomas went to meet her.

It’s unspeakably early in the morning, but CNN’s central London newsroom is already buzzing with activity. Producers debate which European business story to lead with, and researchers tap away at their keyboards, some keeping a casual eye on the latest World Cup scores, being played out on a bank of TV screens overhead.

At the far end of the room, the studio is live on air and Hala Gorani is quietly in control, anchoring BizNews. Wrapping up a live interview with an Afghan affairs analyst, she reads the morning’s headlines from the autocue, before handing over briefly to CNN’s world news anchor in Atlanta.

Richard Quest, CNN’s lanky, livewire business anchor enters the studio as London goes back on air, and the two presenters joke together briefly, before Hala hands over the controls and finishes her shift. It’s barely 8am, but Hala has been in the studio, without a break, for three hours.

Having joined CNN three years ago, Hala Gorani is being groomed for stardom. This summer has seen her take the helm on Design 360, a new series of twelve monthly slots and weekly updates on cutting-edge design, launched in June and broadcast across the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Blonde and blue-eyed, Hala was born in Seattle to Syrian parents. Her father, a civil engineer went to the US to study and her mother later joined him there.

Raised in Washington DC, Hala later moved to Paris with her mother and older brother. Her mother now lives permanently in France, and Hala divides her time between London and Paris, and keeps in close contact with her grandmother and other relatives in Syria.

"My family is from Aleppo, and I go back there every couple of years," Hala says. "I have family and friends there - we’re a very close-knit, oriental-style extended family. When I go back to Syria, I speak Arabic - though not very well. I’m French and American, culturally, but Syrian in origin."

Hala’s mother, a lawyer, brought up her children to respect education. My mother didn’t inspire me to study law," Hala recalls. "She’s a corporate lawyer, so there were none of the theatrics associated with criminal law.

"My family is a hard-working academic family - that’s always been in my upbringing. I’ve always been ambitious for myself, but my mother was ambitious regarding school: it was unacceptable not to get good grades - she learned that from her own father.

"There was a time when I didn’t study well, and nearly got kicked out of school for having bad grades, aged 16, and my mother really got upset with me. For her, that was a point of no return. She gave me three weeks to get my grades up, or I would be in big trouble. I was never in serious trouble - but teenagers find their parents overbearing."

Hala returned to the US to study for a degree in economics. She decided to pursue journalism after writing for a college magazine. Back in Europe after graduating, she worked for news agency Agence France Presse and the newspaper La Voix du Nord.

In the early days, she had her fair share of grim jobs. "My first ever on-air experience was on a radio show for young people, broadcast out of a Paris hospital," she recalls.

"It was dreary and depressing; you had to walk down these long hallways to get to this tiny little booth with a microphone. I did a movie review, but it was so bad. After the first experience, though, the second experience is always better, and that gave me hope."

Leaving La Voix du Nord, Hala returned to college aged 24, to study at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. During her studies, she landed an internship at a French cable station, her first experience of working in TV. Glamorous, it wasn’t. One of Hala’s first assignments was to put together a feature on wacky things to rent in Paris.

"Paris Review was my first ever TV package," she recalls. "I guess I wasn’t bad for a 24 year-old, but it really was dreadful. One of the difficult things about TV is that you have to train your voice down, because it gets higher if you’re nervous.

"I sounded like I’d been inhaling helium and got a lot of flack from my friends. But it was fun. And I discovered that in Paris, you can rent parrots and even a Michael Jackson impersonator." In 1996, Hala left Paris for London, where she joined business channel Bloomberg Television as an anchorwoman on business and financial news reports. Two years later, she joined CNN International in London, reporting and presenting business news.

Five years on, she still misses Paris. "I realised very soon that my heart was in Paris - that’s where my mother, my family and my friends are," Hala says. "I really see myself as a Parisian first and foremost. Even now, my dentist is still in Paris.

"Mainly, I miss the lifestyle. The nightlife there is not in pubs, and people socialise in a different way. I’m Mediterranean at heart, and that means that dinner ends at 11pm. Where can you go at 11.30pm in London, if friends are visiting from out of town? That’s really annoying. Another thing is home food delivery; that frustrates me - it’s expensive and arrives cold."

Despite missing home, the last year has seen Hala’s career go from strength to strength. From covering business and interviewing financial analysts, she is seizing the opportunity to anchor hard news bulletins. In June, as well as launching her new programme Design 360, she landed an interview with Lebanese presenter Rafiq Hariri.But Hala’s high point so far was when the news broke in May that far-right leader Jean Marie Le Pen had defeated socialist leader Lionel Jospin in the French presidential elections. The shock announcement came as Hala was presenting her business programme, and she found herself in charge of breaking news.

"The French election coverage was the best thing I’ve ever done - being on air for hours without a prompt or any notes at all," Hala enthuses. "I was on air for three straight hours, covering the breaking story with just two reporters on the ground." Presenting Design 360 means that Hala now gets to spend more time doing in-depth interviews, travelling across Europe to meet the biggest names in design, fashion and architecture. But although she relishes her new role, her first love is news analysis.

"I really like Hard Talk presenter Tim Sebastian," she says. "You know you’ll get a balanced view. Even if he has an opinion, he is so attached to his image as a ferocious interviewer that he interviews everyone ferociously. He manages to put the interviewee in a defensive position and to get them off their soap box. I don’t have a half-hour programme and ten researchers, I have three minutes for my news interviews. But I’m in my early thirties and I hope to reach that level."

Recent months have seen CNN attract criticism in the Middle East for its coverage of regional events since 11 September. Critics accuse the American-owned broadcaster of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian bias in its coverage of Middle Eastern affairs.

As an Arab-American, Hala feels that the criticisms put her in a difficult position. "I’m completely aware of those accusations. But I cannot, no matter what my opinion is on this, give it to you," she says.

"If I see something that I believe is unbalanced in my own show, I make a special effort to balance it out, whether it’s a MidEast story or another story. That’s my mission in journalistic writing; I make a point of it. I read books about journalistic writing and engage in debates with my friends. It’s super-important to me. "If I see a word like ‘militant’, in whatever story, I ask myself whether that’s a ‘suspected militant’ or a ‘militant’. Because if that’s a suspected militant, it’s not the same thing: we can’t say that. If I have a real problem with something, I ask whether it can be rewritten.

Sometimes, the answer is no. It’s a process. But I’ve never encountered anyone here who’s said to me; you’re not happy with it, deal with it. If I really don’t agree with the way something’s presented, I will bring it up. At the end something comes out: hopefully a compromise."

Despite her ambition, Hala does not feel that journalism is her only possible career path: she harbours a secret desire to teach. "I feel really well-suited to high school teaching," she admits. "Once I’m done with TV, say in ten years time, I’d like to do other things like teach, have kids one day. You can’t wake up at 2am for the rest of your life." However, Hala has no plans to leave journalism any time soon, and is enjoying life in London, sharing a central London apartment with her best friend from college. "We basically hardly ever see each other," Hala laughs.

"She is a banker, working long hours, and I’m out early in the morning. I don’t think we’ve seen each other face to face for weeks. We don’t have time to get on each other’s nerves." Hala’s family has cheered her rise up the career ladder. "My mother is my biggest fan. She’s an incredible inspiration and base for support; someone I can count on," Hala says.

"My mother doesn’t shy away from saying what she thinks, but she’s incredibly supportive. My grandmother in Syria also watches me on CNN from time to time and, although she speaks some English, she mainly analyses how I look. She loves short hair and is always very happy when she sees that I’ve had it cut."

With a hectic, high profile media lifestyle and weekends spent shuttling between London and her family home in Paris, Hala has a career that many women would envy - but she swears that it isn’t all glamour. "Maybe it might seem glamorous from the outside," she laughs. "But you know, I go to the greasy fry-up diner over the road, and have a bagel with fries. Then I go home and sleep. That’s how glamorous my life is.

Yes, I’m always off to Paris - but it’s by Eurostar, and to visit my family. I work all year and get exhausted, and spend all my money on holidays. I don’t like camping, or staying in dingy hotels. I only have three weeks off every year - 20 working days - so if I go away, I want a really good hotel. I would love to go to Thailand next."

CNN is clearly grooming Hala for greater things. "I’m at a stage in my life where, if all goes well, all the big interviews are ahead of me," Hala says. "Right now, I mainly interview analysts or political figures who are not heads of state. I think it’s going to happen for me, and I’ll get better interviews.

"I love design, but I love hard news more. So for me, interviewing Le Pen or Chirac would be more interesting. But in Design 360, I interview Philippe Starck and Ian Shrager - and that’s humungous." Cosmopolitan and self-assured, Hala is almost blase about the celebrities she interviewed at Yves Saint’s farewell fashion show, who included Gwyneth Paltrow, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood.

"I hate celebrity chasing," she says. "I’m not impressed by anyone’s celebrity status ever. If that comes through, it’s a good thing. I don't like kissing butt. I walk up to them, say I’m from CNN, and would they like to talk? It’s yes or no. If it’s no, fine - I don’t run after anyone. As a result, during that trip, I got so many humungous names.

I’m like: I work for CNN. Do you want 200 million people to hear you - yes or no. No? Fine! That’s how I got Gwyneth Paltrow, Vivienne Westwood and loads of other people to talk to me. I’m anything but star-struck."

Born: Seattle, Washington State
Occupation: Anchor and presenter for CNN programmes World Business Today and Design 360
Ambition: To pursue top-flight political interviews
Would Switch Careers to: Teach English or History at high school
Origins: Her family is from Aleppo in Syria
Marital Status: Single. In summer 2000 Arab newspapers wrongly named her as the secret London-based fiancee of President Bashir El Assad. The story was false, and the Syrian leader married British-born financial analyst Asma Al Akhras the following January.
Favorite designer: Valentino, Jean-Paul Gaultier couture
Fantasy interviewees: She would love to travel back in time to interview French president Charles de Gaulle, film star Orson Wells, or singer Freddie Mercury.


CNN’s Hala Gorani: Stern On Air, Charming Off-Air.
The Monitor (Kampala) September 16, 2004
By Simon Kasyate

She wakes you up with morning news on CNN highlighting the day’s business and other key stories on the CNN Today show, sometimes co-hosting with the bespectacled witty Richard Quest. Our Reporter Simon Kasyate caught up with this News anchor at her London office late last month, immediately after her bulletin and below are the excerpts of their ’chat’.

Who is Hala Gorani?
Well, that’s a difficult question (laughs), primarily as far as this interview is concerned; I am a journalist and reporter for CNN International. I host a variety of shows, the morning programmes on CNN International from London, and also Inside the Middle East which is a monthly programme looking at features away from the day to day news coming from that region which is so much in the headlines for all the negative violence stories. We go a little bit beyond that and look at cultural stories, social stories and bring those to the public. Because there might not be a word if there is a whole of their lives in that region that is not necessarily related to war all the time.

I and my readers are still interested to know who the gorgeous face is that wakes them to world news every morning; when she was born, where and to who?
[Laughter and raises voice] Thanks very much for the compliment; that’s a good start to a question for any woman; or a man actually. Well, I was born in 1970, I am 34 years, I haven’t reached the age where I have to start lying bout my age (laughs). I was born in Seattle Washington and very quickly after that I moved to Algeria for a couple of years where my father worked. After that my parents separated and I moved with my mother to France and lived there for 18 years. I got educated in France almost my entire life and I consider Paris to be my hometown more than any other city even though my citizenship is US.
Studied journalism at College or university?
I never studied journalism. And I have nothing against studying journalism but I never ever thought that was the right thing to do and the reason for that is that really journalism is something you can learn on the job. Maybe I could be saying the wrong thing here because people consider it as something they did. But I can spend the four years studying History and economics and political science and I can go for internships and learn the craft of journalism. And it has taken me so long to get to a point when I am actually happy with my work, but I thought I could not learn that in college anyway. At least I learned while getting paid [laughs].
We share that in common; but if you didn’t study journalism anyone would be tempted to ask how you ascended CNN as an Anchorwoman and reporter.
Because I started as an intern in Newspapers; first I worked for a newspaper in the north of France for about nine months where I worked for the economic pages. Then I worked for Agence France Presse as a stringer/ intern/whatever so anything that needed to be written or translated I would do that. Then little by little you sort of accumulate experience. From then on I started working at a French cable network called Paris Premiere for a few months and from then on I got a job with Bloomberg Television in London as a financial anchor for three years. From that job I got my current job at CNN six years ago.

Waoh! You are a lady going places, so where do you see yourself say five years from today?
Well, (laughs), to be honest with you I don’t know, but I would like to be at CNN. I enjoy working here a lot. So most importantly I want to look back five years and say to myself that I told good stories and I did the best I could do and I told stories that mattered and I told them as well as I could with all the tools at my disposal. If I am writing for print, I told them with all the tools, if am using TV, that medium, I used the sound, I used the pictures, I used the elements as well as I could; and that’s what I wanna be doing in five years. Look back and be happy!

You look and sound like you enjoy every single day of your stay at CNN, any challenges?
[Laughs] you know honestly waking up at night is very challenging, if you are really passionate about your work you can tell if you are willing to wake up at 2 am. Now I am taking a bit of a breather, I am gonna be working more during the day and doing some travelling and things like that. I have been working for a few years on a shift that’s been a bit difficult but now I am away from that. So hopefully I will be doing weekends, travelling and hopefully more reporting.
Hala Gorani will with effect from September move to the CNN centre in Atlanta under the same portfolio anchoring weekend morning shows and Inside the Middle East.
No doubt you have a huge fan club; do you ever get to meet any of your fans?
No, I don’t!
No? You never pass by somewhere and get a few heads turned or better still arouse ecstatic screams of ’hi Hala!’ from a crowd?
No, no; it doesn’t happen a lot, I can tell you for two reasons; first of all I don’t think I have that many fans and secondly when I am outside of work I wear glasses and I wear no make up so I don’t think I look as much as I appear on the screen. Sometimes you look a bit different, perhaps my other colleagues like the indomitable Richard Quest who I co-host with in the morning, looks exactly off-air as he does on-air, so I think he is the kind of guy who might get more of that attention. But I don’t get that much attention, I get that occasional stare from someone and without saying a word walks away possible asking himself/herself ’Could I have met this person anywhere? I find some of the attention a bit odd to me, it’s very difficult to deal with somebody who says to you Hey I see you on TV! It’s very flattering though, don’t get me wrong.
Your private life; mind talking about it?
No I don’t mind talking about it in superficial terms but in great detail, no.
Married, dating; what is your status?
Dating yeah, hopefully I will be married in the next few years (laughs) if all goes well. [Laughs more] apart from that, there are many other things I enjoy to do in my private life. I really love travelling especially for holiday to ’switch-off’. For example I am going to France for a week’s
holiday, switch off my phone and won’t check my mail for a week and I am happy I will take a book. You know your work becomes better when you return from such a trip.

As an anchor, do you ever find yourself on the set in a situation where the story is so touching that you ’loose it’ on-air?
No, loosing it would be a little bit too much, but yeah it does happen to me a couple of times when I get a bit teary but I can control it when I am on air. I must say that when I did a story in Egypt about Sudanese refugees, I had a moment when I really did have a tear. I was interviewing a man from Darfur who was showing me the only thing he got out of Darfur was a picture of his family, that’s all he had! When I saw that, I could almost not control myself, and he was crying, and I was crying and my producer was crying. I mean things like that really happen, but you are a bit further removed when you are anchoring you are not there, you are not looking into somebody’s eyes and it’s a bit different. It did happen to me once or twice and sometimes on unexpected stories where you wouldn’t think that it touches you especially on days when you are possibly more tired, perhaps more emotional for whatever reasons. But once I was reading a story on a German couple’s son who was kidnapped and killed, finding out a week later that despite the fact that they had paid the ransom that they had been asked. And when I was reading that I was imagining the parents; I had to go for a break immediately because it was incredibly sad! But you know what? We are human and sometimes we think of the horrible misery that people go through and part of our job is reading that misery everyday, we do get hardened into it. But every once in a while it’s just too much and you get kind of all worked up!


"Coming Into Focus" - American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, November 2006

"Passing Through" - Khaleej Times, 30 November 2005


CNN All Access: Your World Today

Message from Davos: Believing in the Future


"I've The Best Gig In The World" - Khajeel Times, 9 December 2005

"Q & A with CNN's Hala Gorani" - Asharq Alawsat, 17 January 2006

"Hala Gorani Interview" - Daily News Egypt, 6 March 2006

"Hala Gorani: Le Moyen-Orient Passionne" -, 16 October 2006

Hala Gorani Talks to FW, Forward Magazine, April 2007

"Interview: CNN Reporter Takes Her Viewers Inside The Middle East" - Daily News Egypt, 31 March 2007

"Alumna Tells The Stories Behind The Headlines" - The Mason Gazette, 22 August 2007

"The Other Side Of CNN Anchor Hala Gorani" -, 5 May 2008