Colleague and dear friend, Yasmine Ryan, leaves behind a rich legacy of stories that have left a deep impact on people and journalists.
This morning, I woke up to the tragic news that a trusted friend, colleague, and fellow journalist, Yasmine Ryan, had passed away.
I have been blessed to know Yasmine for more than eight years. Throughout she had been an epitome of courage. A selfless human. A fearless woman.
I met Yasmine when we were both younger journalists working at Al Jazeera in Doha. At the time she was a producer on the digital newsdesk that operated around the clock.
The desk aimed to keep abreast of all the news of the day by following Al Jazeera's television coverage and agency material. A task that is essential to every newsroom, but is almost always too laborious for people who have decided to invest in a career and lifestyle that is focused around telling the stories of ordinary people and society. So we set up a system where impassioned producers would be given enough time away from the desk to do justice to the stories they wanted to tell.
Yasmine was tireless in her ambition to pitch stories and then tell them with utmost dedication.
Her work was tough on power and was decidedly empathetic to all sides. What made Yasmine stand out, in a newsroom full of talented journalists, was her resolute commitment to listen. To listen sincerely and deeply. To attempt to look through and beyond languages, borders, cultures, religions and all other constructs that make us different, yet define our uniqueness. Yasmine desperately cared about understanding who people were, her work and life resonated with this spirit. A bridge, reaching across and into the lives of others.
Her commitment and ability demanded that she be given the time, space and support to report on the stories that mattered to her. Stories that made her a lead reporter on the issues and events that have defined the age we live in.
It was widely acclaimed that Yasmine was the first English-language journalist to start in-depth reporting on the events in Tunisia that preceded what has become known as the Arab Spring. At Al Jazeera she became a defining voice that led and influenced the network's coverage during 2011 and 2012, as events in North Africa and the Middle East imprinted itself on the world’s conscience, capturing joy, celebration, tragedy and frustration.
Eventually her passion to be close to the people and stories she was reporting led her back to freelancing. And for a few years she based herself out of Tunisia and Libya, writing award-winning work for the world’s biggest publications.
When I called Yasmine in March 2016, to speak to her about taking up the role of leading our features team, with the goal of commissioning the type of stories she was used to writing, she was apprehensive. Yasmine loved being in the field, and she had edited before, but much rather preferred being edited. But she did give me something to play with. She mentioned that most editors she had worked with across multiple news organisations have a lack of empathy for what it means to be a contributing freelancer.
"They don't understand what conditions we work under, and often prioritise slight of phrase over local views and statements that provide profound insight", I can recall her saying.
That was exactly why I felt she was the best person for the job. An editor who had written award- winning pieces, both from the desk and from the ground; had internalised what it means to be a struggling journalist who also wanted to deeply understand other people and could communicate their stories honorably. Not to mention that years of reporting from the regions' hot spots meant that she had a unique network of talented, emerging writers who were still looking to be found.
Here at TRT World, her calmness, professionalism and maturity had allowed the people around her to flourish. She prioritised local voices over impeccable style, which at times frustrated, even me. On many occasions I had left the office a few hours late, and seen her plugging away, working with a writer or fixing a piece that was initially imperfectly written, but had a definitive voice, built around a unique local perspective.
From stories of human trafficking in Libya, to sick Yemenis unable to travel for life-saving treatment, Yasmine had commissioned and edited a range of compelling narratives that have defined the editorial voice that this new newsroom was slowly building.
Yasmine was a warm, cheerful and highly intelligent human being. She had her own unique style and was keen to explore, travel and make the most of her personal life.
She is a loss to journalism, but an even greater loss as a friend. She is survived by her stories, journalists she has influenced and the change her work has perhaps brought about.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.
We will miss you Yasmine.
We all love you, dearly.
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.
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