BEIRUT: As she graduated high school, Joanna Azar had an affinity for both journalism and law. Journalism, however, requested an entry exam and law school didn’t, prompting her to apply for both.
Walking down the hallway of the Lebanese University, Azar was excited to check the results of the assessment, and as surprised to learn she was one the highest scoring of 2000 applicants.
This breakthrough contributed to shaping the person Azar is today: a journalist, a media consultant, writer, professor and deputy mayor for Jeddayel's municipality.
Her professional journey started when she specialized in journalism. She completed her B.A degree, her masters in French Press, a program offered by the Lebanese university where French journalism professors travel to Lebanon to give out lectures, and her Ph.D. in media sociology at USEK University.
The doctoral degree paved the way for her teaching career, sharing her knowledge at several colleges, including the Lebanese German University, Antonine University, Notre Dame University, and Fouad Chehab Command and Staff College where she trains officers in negotiation and communication.
“My relationship with words and writing is the main reason I fell in love with journalism," Azar told Annahar, adding, "I used to always say that words are like the wind, if they are powerful enough they can affect everything else.”
By way of journalism history, Azar looked back at a time when citizens awaited the hardcopy analysis of news to understand the events going on.
“We used to have a box of newspapers in college where we could buy the paper for half its price. We stood in line to get it and whoever didn't would feel disappointed because the first source of information was this newspaper,” Azar shared.
She explained that as important as technology is to the field, it also has changed the meaning of media and press to make it somewhat less exclusively powerful. With the presence of thousands of sources, websites, and social media platforms, anyone can become an analyst on their own; “people are forgetting about the experiences, the expertise and the credibility one has to have to study a certain situation and share it with the public,” she added.
Azar was introduced to the field as a journalist in 2006 as she first wrote for an appendix at Annahar newspaper which was under the section name of Young Journalists. This section was later cut because of the 2006 Lebanese Israeli war. She moved her writing skills then to Masculin magazine, a French magazine published in Lebanon where she authored investigative articles.
Al Akhbar newspaper followed, along with her teaching profession, until she was appointed a media consultant at the prime minister’s office with former Deputy Prime Minister Issam Abou Jamra. She handled the same position for the Chief of the Engineer’s Syndicate Elie Bsaibes in 2011; former minister of economy Raed Khoury in 2016-2017 and now she handles the media consultancy of MP General Chamel Roukoz.
“I can’t choose one favorite occupation because the combination of everything I do is what satisfies me emotionally, it’s the whole package; however, in the future, I might consider focusing on teaching and research,” Azar said.
The feelings of excitement she experienced throughout every detail of her path pushed Azar into writing a book which is a compilation short stories that turn her personal experiences into written expressions; “people always wish for a life that is similar to what we have read in stories, but I want to mould my reality into a book.”
Welcome to “Naya,” the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations — Naya Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
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