Project: An innovation incubator for Arab youth to help them shape the future journalism landscape through entrepreneurial projects.
Mariam Semaan followed her interest in human rights and women’s issues in the Arab world through college and into her career. She researched these issues while earning degrees in law and journalism from St. Joseph University in Beirut. And she learned about them firsthand – as a 5-foot 3-inch, night-shift editor supervising 15 experienced male printers at the newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour. Then, a job reporting for Radio Liban took her into the emotional terrain of war during uprisings against the pro-Syrian government in Beirut. It was at this state-owned outlet that she also experienced interference in her journalism. So she seized a chance to help adapt Elle magazine to a Middle Eastern female readership. As editorial manager, she faced all the issues of a news start-up: from finding a sustainable business model to bringing editorial performance up to the magazine’s standards. Two years later, she jumped into another start-up, RK Productions, which was developing a new weekly television interview program, “A Different Talk.” She became its executive producer and RK’s production chief.