Editor & Publisher, the newspaper trade mag, likes L.A. Times Cairo bureau chief Megan Stack. A profile posted today says that Stack, then the Houston bureau chief, happened to be in Paris on vacation on Sept. 11, 2001. Instead of coming home, the paper told her to be useful in Europe. Out of that was born a career as a foreign correspondent, most recently covering the war in Lebanon. Stack, who is 30, on being a woman in the region:
"Other than in Iraq, it's important to me to convey how very unthreatened I feel most of the time. I've found that even extreme Salafists are often excited, or at least intrigued, by the opportunity to have their voices heard by an American reporter. They feel they have a message, and they want it conveyed."
Being a woman in fundamentalist countries has been a mixed blessing: "There are stories I can do that men can't," she explains. "I can always speak with the women in conservative cultures, and male reporters absolutely cannot.
"I can blend in much easier than my male counterparts in dangerous areas," she adds. "In Iraq, I've been able to roam around Shiite cities like Najaf and Karbala swathed head to toe in black, and people don't really look at me because it's improper to look women in the face."
Also, Stack has found that in certain situations, being a woman can help her get better quotes from government officials. "I have sometimes suspected that male officials let their guard down a little because somewhere in their minds, they simply don't take women seriously and don't believe a woman journalist can really pose any serious threat," she notes.