Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old American reporter, has been arrested in Iran on charges of ‘illegal’ reporting and is being detained in an undisclosed location.
Scary stuff, but perhaps some key facts from Saberi’s distinguished resume can help assuage our fears.
A former Miss North Dakota, who’s been working in Iran as a freelance reporter, is being detained in undisclosed location there.
And that’s the actual lede from the story running on MediaBistro’s TVNewser.
We don’t learn until the second paragraph that Saberi has ‘reported for NPR, “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer”, and Fox News Channel, among others as the [three-year] Tehran bureau chief for Feature Story News.’
But I can’t just blame MediaBistro (though delivering it to my inbox made an impression), as a number of news orgs have decided that Ms Saberi’s 12-year-old pageantry trumps her professional resume.
The original NPR story doesn’t mention the 1997 Miss North Dakota win until the seventh par and as part of her biography. Yet every other iteration I’ve found of the original story leads with this pretty irrelevant piece of information.
To give MediaBistro its due, at least they included a useful headline with her current profession: ‘American Reporter Detained in Iran’. North Dakota’s KFYR and Radio Free Europe cut right to the chase with, ‘Former Miss Dakota Arrested/Detained in Iran,’ respectively.
It appears that Saberi was initially arrested for buying a bottle of wine (which may or may not have been an excuse for the arrest), and is now being held for news gathering after her journalist credentials were revoked by the country in 2006. Iran is now discussing her detainment with the press, which is an improvement.
National and international news orgs have also found more pictures of Ms Saberi, which possibly accounts for the decreasing importance of her pageant title.
Yet, somehow I don’t think a male freelancer arrested in Iran (where, coincidentally, he was also finishing up his Masters in Iranian studies and international relations, as well as completing a book on Iranian culture) would be described as ‘Former All-State Quarterback’ by multiple news outlets.
I sincerely hope Ms Saberi is allowed to return to her studies soon.
And let her example serve as a reminder to women everywhere: burn every picture from your pageant/cheerleading/whatever days if you plan on being in the public sphere in any way, as they will almost assuredly appear in every story about you, no matter how irrelevant to the subject matter.
(I just hope no one ever gets a hold of my Academic Decathlon Swimsuit Competition photos! Embarrassing!)