Author Archives: allen12

Saudi Arabia Gives Women the Right to Vote in the 2015 Elections

By: Katarina Allen

On Sunday, Sept. 25th Saudi Arabia’s King Adullah announced that women can vote in the local elections that will be held in 2015.  Not only did King Abdullah give women the right to vote, but he also announced that, “As of the next session (in 2015), women will have the right to nominate themselves for membership of Municipal Councils, and also have the right to participate in the nomination of candidates with the Islamic guidelines.” The local elections in Saudi Arabia began on Sept. 29, 2011, five days after women were given these rights, but they must wait four more years to exercise their newly acquired right to vote.

The White House responded to this announcement by saying “These reforms recognize the significant contributions women in Saudi Arabia make to their society and will offer them new ways to participate in the decisions that affect their lives and communities.” The move, according to the White House, is “an important step forward in expanding the rights of women in Saudi Arabia.” The United States is getting ready for its next presidential election, which will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6 2012. It has been 95 years since women earned the right to vote due to the creation of the Nineteenth Amendment that prohibits state and federal agencies from gender-based restrictions on voting.  Now, in 2011, Saudi Arabian women have finally been given the right to vote in local elections.

Professors at Sweet Briar, a private all women’s college, feel that this announcement is great news for the increasing role of women in politics around the world.  Padmini Coopamah, assistant professor and co-chair of the department of government and international affairs, when asked how important this event is replied, “VERY. It may not be for national elections, and things may be a little rocky at first, but political rights are such that, once you give them, they consolidate over time and lead to other rights. Obviously the royal family, the House of Saud, has a tight grip on power, so we are not talking about the appearance of democracy any time soon, but I think this is a preemptive step in the kingdom in reaction to the Arab spring and the agitation by Saudi women in recent months for more rights.”

Maria El-Abd ’12 was asked “What other policies do you think will change in Saudi Arabia due to the voting rights given to women?” She responded, “As far as I know there is nothing in the Quran forbidding women from voting in Islam, just as there’s nothing forbidding them from driving. As long as she’s doing nothing wrong, why not let her drive? If they’re doing this to protect women, I would think letting them drive by themselves is certainly better than having a strange man chauffeur them wherever they need to go.”

Muslims believe the Quran to be the book of divine guidance and direction for humanity and consider the text in its original Arabic language to be the literal word of God; they view the Quran as God’s final revelation to humanity.

Professor Coopemah was asked the same question as El-Abd ’12 and responded, “Difficult to say, it is not the most transparent regime in the world. There is a more modernist faction, but the traditionalists have a firm grip. It would be nice to see some changes like women not needing male relatives to escort them everywhere, but it is hard to say how soon (or if) such a change in social practice is likely to happen.”

Saudi women’s rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider in an interview stated “Women’s voices will finally be heard. Now it’s time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function and live a normal life without a male guardian.”

El-Abd ’12 was also asked if this change for women in Saudi Arabia was a long time coming and she responded, “Women, not just in Saudi Arabia, but throughout the world, have been seeking equality for a while. Even in America, efforts to receive equal pay for the same job are still going on. By no means is this a trend exclusive to the Middle East.”

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Kat Allen 9/14/11 – The Fine Line of Undercover Journalism

While reading through Kovach and Knight’s recent chapters assigned to the class I was wondering what I was going to post for this assignment and which articles would be presented to us in Shapiro.  The one article I found the most interesting and emotion rendering to the reader was Stetson Kennedy’s The Klan Unmasked.

The article begins with a direct quote (which we were taught are sometimes good lede’s if used properly).  But it does not give us any indication as to who is who or where is where, which makes you want to figure out why this article is using the “I.”  We soon realize that Stetson is actually undercover in the Klan and is essentially recording everything they say and do, which is very dangerous.  Even at first glance, perhaps the reader may think Stetson has some sort of ties to the Klan or used to be in the Klan and it reporting on those past experiences.  This would bring up some of the subjects discussed in Chapter 4 and 5 in Kovach’s book The Elements of Journalism, which discuss bias and truthfulness in reporting.  I believe that Stetson reported the truth of the Klan and kept most of his own biases at bay. His undercover reporting led to a murder and luckily his wasn’t found out by the Klan because it could have ended indefinitely in two.

Kat Allen 9/5/11 – Guilty is Always the Verdict

When reading through all of Ida B. Wells articles about lynching I was shocked and it made me upset to think how many men died due to the insanity and brutality of ruthless mobs.  At first I thought to write about the article Nellie Bly had written about going undercover in an insane asylum because of the detail and characters mentioned, which gave the story so much life, but I read on, only to discover more despair in the lynchings.

Ida B. Wells articles not only told the story chronologically, but also gave the reader insight into both sides; in this case the mobs and the accused.  These articles could have been done in such a way that the reader would have become bored or thought perhaps that the writer was biased, but Ida B. Wells did not do this.  She told the stories based off of the facts that were recorded through these processes and turned the story into something that people cannot put down.  I was expecting a lot of biased comments that would make me hate the mobs that killed these men, but I found myself making my own judgements based off of the facts given in these cases.  In this case, I hated the mobs.

The details in which she described the killings were very in depth, but I think that gave the story a “oh my god” factor and made the reader feel disgusted and mortified that these things could be happening to them or their neighbors.  Ida B. Wells in fact made those dishonors towards those men into reality for the world to see what is truly going on.

By: Kat Allen ’12

Kat Allen 8/31 – Do Numbers Make the Best Lede’s?

San Francisco school officials have some explaining – and complying – to do. Last year, the district failed to follow the strict rules attached to a $56 million, three-year federal grant to improve student performance at 10 of its lowest-performing schools. The schools could lose the second installment – about $18 million – if they don’t make adjustments.   Read more:

As a reader of the News online I wanted to find an article that not only caught my eye, but also made me wonder “what the heck happened?”  So I searched the newspapers in California hoping to find something that would intrigue me.  In Robert M. Knight’s book Journalistic Writing he teaches us to focus on lede’s (the first lines) and how they should draw you in as a reader and therefore keep you reading.  So I focused in on the first lines of stories hoping something would make me want to read on instead of move on.

This particular article I found at the (seen above) which caught my attention immediately due to the lede written.  I was a student in California and I had immediately been intrigued by the statement that the school officials had some explaining to do.  I liked that this article did not mention in the first line why they had some explaining to do.  If they had mentioned it then I would have the entire story and not be interested in reading the rest.  I guess that is the whole point of a lede; to make a reader read on.  This article was quite long, but I read through due to the information and outrageous numbers that were precisely placed in the story to keep me reading to find out more.  A chart was even included to show which schools were doing which of the 4 Reforms given to them so that they can stay funded.  This visual was great because it simplified the information into chart form instead of putting it into words; and perhaps if it had been done that way the readers would have become bored and stopped reading.

Sometimes the numbers can be a little daunting or boring to most, but when they are about children’s schools and people losing their jobs because of overall bad decisions people can’t help but be interested in this story.  A successful lede leads to a successful story in this case.