The Accidental Journalist

The Accidental Journalist

Adam Baron ’10 can laugh now as he recounts his convoluted early career path.  After majoring in Arabic Studies and spending a semester in Egypt, he thought he might be headed to Wall Street.  But an interviewer in a major financial firm observed that while Baron was clearly qualified, he was just as clearly uninterested in a career in investment banking.

So Baron found himself free to pursue his fascination with the Middle East.  As a way to return to the region that was “in his blood” he signed on to teach in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, a “picture-perfect medieval Arab city.”  Baron planned to teach English while looking for something that interested him more.

With a start date of January 2011, it didn’t take long for “something more interesting” to come his way.  Small demonstrations near the university gained momentum through the spring, spilling out of “Change Square” and disrupting the status quo.  In the words of Baron’s friend and demonstrator leader, “at this point the revolution has become our national sport.”

For an adrenaline junky with a love of politics, the situation was fascinating.  Baron sent his c.v. and writing samples to McClatchy Newspapers, which  hired him as a special correspondent in April. In May, Baron resigned from his teaching position to free up more time for reporting.

Only 23, but an American with Arabic language skills and an international platform, Baron uses his privileged position “telling stories that wouldn’t be told” without his voice.  One article describes how some women and children in rural Yemen have sought refuge in caves to escape shelling of their village homes.  Other write-ups quote a wide range of sources, from the president to youth activists, ex-soldiers and educators.

In addition to his professional journalism, Baron maintains a lively blog filled with photos, explanatory captions, notes and essays.  It reads like letters from a smart, funny friend who just happens to be writing from Yemen, zipping around the capital on the back of motorcycle taxis, observing and recording everyday life during “an incredible time of development and change.”

Graduate school is a possibility at some point, but for now Baron is excited to use his unique skill set in a part of the world with few western journalists.  “In Yemen or other places in the Arab world, people my age are overthrowing governments.  It’s so incredibly inspiring to be around.”

Read Adam Baron’s McClatchy articles , check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter.