Tributes flow for NZ’s Arab Spring journalist Yasmine Ryan

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tributes flow for NZ’s Arab Spring journalist Yasmine Ryan

Yasmine Ryan … a “global” freelance journalist who died tragically in Turkey last month. Image: PMW

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

New Zealand journalist Yasmine Ryan, credited with being the first reporter writing in English about the Arab Spring from her base in Tunisia, has been farewelled at a funeral held in Auckland today, reports Stuff.

Ryan died in Turkey at the age of 35 after reportedly falling from the fifth storey of a friend’s apartment building in Istanbul on November 30.

Friends and family gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland to farewell the much-loved and respected journalist.

Yasmine’s mother, Deborah, spoke during the service of her daughter’s goodwill in the field of journalism.

“She believed in journalism, she believed in good journalism,” she said. “She did everything for women in journalism, did everything for everybody.

“She [Yasmine] died doing what she loved most.”


The freelancer previously worked for Al Jazeera when she was covering the Arab Spring, and was later a fellow of the World Press Institute visiting the United States in 2016.

International award
She won an International Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2010 for a story about Algerian boat migrants.

She also worked as an online producer and video journalist for the International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, and in New Zealand with independent news agency Scoop.

She also contributed to Pacific Scoop and Pacific Journalism Review.

Friends and colleagues described her as a “selfless human” and “a fearless woman”.

Investigative journalist Selwyn Manning, who worked with Ryan at Scoop, said “the world is a better place because of her”.

He said: “It takes a lot to sink in. You see someone who has got such youth, zest and professionalism, who has so much to offer, and it is just a significant loss from so many angles,” he said.

Ryan was co-author with Manning and Katie Small of I Almost Forgot About the Moon, a book about the human rights campaign in support of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui and his family’s right to stay in New Zealand.

Theologian Zaoui was at the ecumenical funeral today where he said prayers in Arabic for Ryan.

Te Reo Māori and Hebrew prayers were also given at the funeral with Monsignor Bernard Kiely as celebrant.

A GiveALittle page set up by Jacinta Forde, who works at the University of Waikato with Ryan’s father, said her dad had “left on the first plane to Turkey … to bring her back home to New Zealand”.

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Tribute to a NZ media mentor: How Yasmine Ryan taught me how to write

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Tribute to a NZ media mentor: How Yasmine Ryan taught me how to write

Yasmine Ryan, an award-winning New Zealand journalist who died tragically on Thursday, was the first Western journalist to begin writing about the beginning of the Arab Spring in Tunisia in 2011. This video interview was with media commentator Gavin Ellis last month. Video: The Spinoff

By Murat Sofuoglu in Istanbul

I have no idea how to say goodbye to Yasmine Ryan. It’s been two days since she passed away here in Istanbul. My mind is flooded with memories of her and it’s incredibly hard to stop thinking about her.

I met Yasmine in Istanbul last December. She was new to the city, hoping to start another chapter of her career as a senior features editor at TRT World. She handpicked a team of reporters for the Magazine section and I happened to be one of them.

I had almost no experience in narrative writing. But as Yasmine came in to her element, I felt I was in safe hands.

A woman with a gentle soul and generous heart, Yasmine never hesitated from helping journalists like me. In the first month, I found myself struggling to craft a compact feature length article, even though over time I had developed a comprehensive understanding over many social and political issues.

She mentored me for almost a year. Though her editorial touch was tender, she was bold enough to test my abilities. If my story lacked a strong introduction, she would tell me straight, “Murat, you need to rewrite your introduction.”


If a story lacked coherent framing, she would ask me to report more until I felt confident enough to write about the subject.

She edited tirelessly, fact-checked stories and sent notes until she felt certain that the piece had all the essential details necessary for a strong feature.

Fixing errors
She never showed any discomfort while fixing errors in my drafts and often responded with refined questions and solutions as well. Even when pointing out flaws in the copy I felt like she was gently tapping my head, not taking a sledgehammer to my work, to teach me what was wrong with my writing.

When I wrote long articles, which sometimes crossed the 2500-word mark, she would put her left hand on her forehead and say “Oh my God!” But she was always quick to lift my mood with a smile.

“Okay, we’ll take care it,” she would say.

She never antagonised me or “killed” my piece.

When it came to editing a sentence, she never touched or altered my voice as a writer, which is a core part of any writer’s identity.

She was respectful toward peoples’ voices and identities. She was proud of her family history, and her Irish-Catholic roots. She often recounted the story of her great grandparents, who survived British brutalities during World War I.

She perceived the British Empire’s so-called assimilation policy as a tool to erase Irish identity. Perhaps that’s what informed her careful approach as an editor that preferred to give weight to the writer’s voice, and not to general elements of style.

Armed with facts
Yasmine encouraged us to improve, insisting that we write more, and to always be armed with facts. She taught me that there was no shame in getting it wrong, as long as we were ready to work towards making it right.

On some occasions, I felt I had a valid point in my argument, but would later realise I was wrong and she was right.

Now with the news of her death, I wish I could be wrong one more time.

More than making me a better writer, she has made me a better person.

I still find it hard to comrehend, or process, that she’s no more. We are not only deprived of her brilliant journalism but also of her generosity and selflessness.

To know she’s gone forever, feels like a life sentence. We should feel sorry for ourselves, not for her. The world is certainly not a better place without her.

I pray her great spirit enlightens us forever.

Rest in peace, Yasmine.

And please forgive us.

Murat Sofuoglu is a journalist with TRT World and tweets at @Readingavenue.

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