The Woman Who Fell From the Sky
The Woman Who Fell From the Sky is a memoir of the most challenging year of my life, the year I spent as editor of the Yemen Observer newspaper in Sana'a, Yemen. It is a story of my own personal growth as well as the story of the transformation of the newspaper and my staff.
In the spring of 2006, I was working as a senior editor of The Week, a national newsweekly based in New York, when my high-school sweetheart contacted me out of the blue and asked if I would come train a group of rising young journalists at the Yemen Observer, an independent, English-language newspaper located in the capital city of Sana'a.
In Yemen, I found a newspaper staff of total amateurs incapable of separating opinion from news, who thought that reporting meant plagiarizing articles from the Internet, and who were desperately hungry for training. Never before in my journalism career had I felt so useful, every day. When my fledgling reporters — and more importantly, the owner of the paper — asked me to stay and be their editor, I couldn't turn them down. And so, with little knowledge of the Arab world, I found myself in a position of power in one of the most conservative countries in the Middle East.