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February 2002
CUNY Responds: Rebuilding New York
CUNY Alumnus/Prize-winning Journalist Reports from Islamabad, Jalalabad, Kabul
City Tech Students Envision Rebuilding St. Nicholas Church
U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins Mulls Emergency Service of Verse
John Jay College and FEMA Address Urban Hazards
Helping Students Write about Trauma
Biography of a Life Cut Violently Short
CUNY Law Practice In the Public Interest Since 9/11
Graduate Center 9/11 Digital Archive
Windows on the World Chef Returns to City Tech following 9/11
Walt Whitman Sums Up “Human and Heroic New York”
Inaugural Conference on "Women and Work"
For Alzheimer’s Patients Life’s a Stage
Kingsborough Center Incubator of Global Virtual Enterprises
Governor Proposes State Budget
White House Urged to Support Pell Grant Increase
President Jackson Named to Schools Board
Fine Way To Learn About Steinway

City College Scholar-Director Chosen Cultural Affairs Commissioner by Mayor

Claire Shulman Honored by QCC

CUNY Counsel Elected Legal Aid Society Chair

Law Dean Glen Honored by State Bar

“American Art at the Crossroads”—
April Symposium at Graduate Center

Challenging Summer for Students in Vassar/CUNY Program

 
 

CUNY BA and Prize-winning Journalist
Reports from Islamabad, Jalalabad, Kabul


By Joyce Kaplan
Office of Publications, Hunter College

Mohamad Bazzi left his native Lebanon for the United States in 1985, when he was 10 years old, and he became an American citizen in 1994. His Middle Eastern background and fluent Arabic have recently played an important role in his rapidly rising career in journalism. The same might be said of his years at Hunter— which, Bazzi declares, "broadened my intellectual understanding of issues while also helping me to hone my craft as a journalist."

Mohamad Bazzi
Newsday reporter Mohamad Bazzi, a 1997 CUNY grad.
Bazzi is now a reporter for Newsday whose bylined stories from Afghanistan and Pakistan have been appearing regularly since mid-September. He is a graduate of the CUNY-BA program, which allows students to attend all of the CUNY colleges while choosing one as their "home" school. For Bazzi, that home was Hunter College, where he majored in urban studies, with a minor in media studies. He graduated magna cum laude in 1997.

Born in Beirut, Bazzi came to the U.S. with an older brother; another brother is in France, yet another is in Spain, and their parents and a sister remain in Lebanon. Like many other Lebanese families, Bazzi notes, his was scattered because of the long civil war in their homeland. English is Bazzi's third language; he learned both Arabic and French as a child in Lebanon, and English after he came here. But when the award- winning journalist speaks, all that distinguishes him from many other twenty-something Americans is that he is soft-spoken—and modest.

A staff writer for Newsday since 1998, Bazzi first covered New York City transportation and neighborhood issues, and since becoming a foreign correspondent he has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and England. Among the Middle East stories he covered prior to the September terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, the death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 2001 he won the Young Reporter of the Year Award from the New York Press Club for his Middle East coverage. On September 16 he left once again for Central Asia, and is currently on special assignment covering militant Islamic movements, the Middle East, and the war on terrorism. His recent articles have included battle coverage, interviews with Afghan and Pakistani leaders, and analysis of the conflict.

The challenge his current assignment poses, Bazzi says, is that "the region is marked by tremendous complexity. Afghanistan and Pakistan—and the Middle East as a whole—have a long history, including constantly shifting alliances among various groups and factions. As a journalist I want to shed some light on phenomena not widely understood in the United States. Achieving this is not easy."

"Mohamed Bazzi is one of the brightest and most gifted young foreign correspondents in American journalism," says Lonnie Isabel, an Assistant Managing Editor at Newsday. Isabel, whose duties include foreign coverage, adds that Bazzi was "the first to profile Dr. Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama Bin Laden's top aide, in an American newspaper.” In Pakistan, Bazzi described the Islamic schools called madrasas that gave birth to the Taliban. In London, Bazzi was the only reporter to interview Yasser al-Sirri and link him to the murder of the Afghan opposition leader Massoud. "His stories were filled with insight and history," says Isabel.

Although now only 26, Bazzi has a long record of impressive accomplishments, beginning with work as a freelance writer for Newsday during his CUNY years. Even before that, as a student at Bronx High School of Science, he wrote for some Queens weekly newspapers and for New Youth Connections, a publication by and for teenagers. In his junior year at Hunter, he was chosen from 700 rivals around the nation for the Scripps Howard Foundation's prestigious Lighthouse Scholarship, a $15,000 award established to recognize outstanding journalism students and encourage journalism careers.

While in college he also won a New York Press Association Scholarship, an E.Y. Harburg Foundation Journalism Scholarship, and the First Place Award in the Society of Professional Journalists' annual college journalism competition.

Initially, Bazzi viewed journalism "as a hobby," but came to see it as a viable career choice. A journalist's role, he feels, is "to be an explainer, to clarify issues and problems, to look at trends and see where they come from, and to ferret out information that those in authority don't want the public to have."