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16 October 2014

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Lucky Me?

By Zahera Harb
October 2002, Cardiff
A digital story from Capture Wales

Zahera's lucky day?

Zahera Harb was one of the journalists that reported on the Qana Massacre in 1996. Although this shot her to fame, she's not sure as to whether she deserves all this attention.

Sound - voices in the background.

"They say it was my lucky day... April 18, 1996.

Lucky for being in the right place at the right time.
The place... Qana village in South Lebanon.
The time... minutes after Israeli missiles hit U.N. headquarters killing all 300 civilians sheltering in the compound... and I was the journalist reporting that live on national TV.

I was interviewed by the press, received in radio and TV shows and decorated for honourable mentions of bravery. I was labelled as the reporter who reported the Qana massacre. I became a primetime news anchor and hosted my own show.

I won prizes but still I couldn't figure out why we journalists of Qana got this much of the press attention. All I can think about now is that we were just doing our jobs.

The exaggeration in the role we played then was far beyond description. I hated the repeated questions... How did it feel?... What was it like?... And how were you able to handle it? We learned every story has to have a hero, and they made us heroes.

Here I am now in Cardiff, looking back at what happened and thinking we were the wrong heroes.

No matter how shocked and distressed I felt that day - standing among shattered bodies of women, children and old men - I believe it was nothing compared to the tragic experience of the victims and the survivors.

Was I lucky?... Yes... lucky for not being one of them... sadly, luck for me was death for other people."

Zahera Harb

What are you currently doing Zahera?
I'm a Lebanese journalist, completing my PhD in Journalism Studies in Cardiff University. I worked as a TV Journalist in Lebanon for 8 years before coming to Cardiff to pursue my postgraduate studies in September 1999. Beside my studies, I work as a teaching assistant in the School of Journalism at Cardiff University.

What's your story about?
It is a story of black history. A story of my experience as one of the journalists who covered Qana Massacre committed by the Israeli forces in April 1996 in South Lebanon. Could luck be related to death?

How did you find digital storytelling different to reporting for the news?
In the early days of the massacre I didn't question the fact that we as 'journalists' of Qana (as we were labelled by the press) got huge media attention. But, in the years to come I could not think why is the media still keeping us in the centre of its attention. It was not until lately that I became critical of letting myself get dragged into that center of attention.
I thought the digital storytelling workshop would be my chance to make a statement about how I really felt about it.

How did it go in the workshop?
It was an exciting experience - meeting people with different stories, from different cultures. Stories you wouldn't think exisited. It has given us the chance and the space to express and tell these stories without constrains.

Your comments: "I thought it was very good." Laura, Wrexham, Wales. April 2003.

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