September 3, 2014

My Name

My name is Shibel Karmi Mansour1 and I’ve been writing this weblog (in its current incarnation) anonymously since December 2013.

Not a lot will change now that I’m writing under my real name, but I guess an explanation is appropriate for those who’ve been following this site during the past few months and who might have noticed some narrative holes in certain pieces.

So let me explain. There are two notable radio stations that cover news here in Israel. Both are public, and together they compete for (and hold) the lion’s share of talk radio listenership. I work as the lead news anchor for one of them.

I was appointed to this role by the station’s then-new CEO2 in September of 2012. At the time, I was hosting a one-hour weekly show, studying for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and pretty much settled with the idea that my future wasn’t in journalism. The offer presented to me was one that I couldn’t refuse, and so I took it.

I was younger (22) and even more inexperienced at the time, so the credit given to me was… well, huge. The transition was accompanied by some media attention, but more importantly it came with a journalistic responsibility that warranted thoughtfulness and diligence.

I feel fortunate and privileged, not only for the opportunity, but also — perhaps more so — for the environment it took place in. I was surrounded by smart, experienced, and supportive people who offered genuine advice that I really can’t put a price on.

Anonymity, to me, was primarily a hedge against unforeseen conflicts or developments. If stripped of its original context, I think Donald Rumsfeld’s controversial Known Unknowns can help explain some of my motivation behind the decision to start out anonymously:

There are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

There were things I knew that I knew, like the fact I wanted to write, mainly about technology. There were things I knew that I didn’t know, like whether writing a weblog as a hobby in my spare time would be in significant conflict with working as a news-anchor for a public media outlet. I didn’t see anything wrong with it to start with, but again, considering my age, I assumed there were more things I didn’t know than things I could possibly know; so I decided to take a hedge. Then, along the way, there were things that I didn’t know that I didn’t know.

I’ve been writing here for a little under a year and I have a better idea of what kind of writer I am. I’ve also learned a great deal about what type of journalist I am, in my two years here at the station. I still have a lot to learn in both areas. But as things stand now — with many unknowns out of the way — I don’t see a reason to keep maintaining my anonymity. It was annoying and counterproductive. The hedge is no longer worth its premium. And so here I am.

What’s Next?

Except for an upcoming design overhaul and a name change, I don’t foresee any major changes. I will continue to impose certain limitations on the scope of topics I write about, but since this was the case from day one, I don’t think the typical reader will notice a difference in style or content before and after this announcement.

Thank you for reading.

  1. First name pronounced like nickel , giggle, pickle, or what have you. ↩︎
  2. Who’s someone I respect on so many different levels and go to for all sorts of advice. My bosses were made aware of this weblog’s existence since its inception. ↩︎
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