Noor Wazwaz is a producer at NPR’s flagship show, Morning Edition. She also occasionally directs the program, which serves 13.5 million listeners each week. Noor graduated in 2015 with her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. There, she reported from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Guantanamo Bay. While at Medill, Noor was awarded the White House Correspondents’ Association Scholarship. Since joining Morning Edition, Noor has helped produce coverage for breaking news stories like the 2016 Election, the Brexit referendum, the Orlando Pulse Club Shooting, and she has also brought voices from on the ground in places like Aleppo, Mosul and the West Bank. Noor has been invited nationally and internationally to speak about media and issues that American Muslims face. She’s a native Arabic speaker, and a proud Chicagoan.
This story is part of “Muslims of America”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist currently based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States. We will not only be sharing the images from the project, but each image will be accompanied by a personal and unique story to show our shared humanity. To read more about Noor and the rest of the faces from “Muslims of America” click here.
What made you pursue journalism in the first place?
As a Palestinian-American I’ve always felt deeply connected to the Middle East. There is often misconceptions and misreports about this particular region. It seemed that reporters only rushed to cover the Middle East only when there is war or catastrophe. As an Arab, I know that there is so much more going on in these regions and so I decided I want to tell these stories. And thankfully, I have been able to while at NPR by discovering hidden talents.
I think one of the biggest problems that journalists have is that many take ownership over the stories they tell. The common phrase that I often hear is “giving voice to the voiceless” and that is a very problematic statement, in my opinion. There’s no such thing as the ‘voiceless,’ only the deliberately silenced and the preferably unheard.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons has this person/s teach you?
My parents. My mom taught me empathy and to always make excuses for people. Ultimately, she taught me what it means to be human. And to be a journalist, you need to be human first. My dad taught me perseverance and strength – this explains my stubborn nature and my determination to tell a challenging story.
As an American Muslim woman, what has your journey being like in a field that it is still very much dominated by men?
Working in a newsroom in DC, I believe I am seeing more and more women in this field. The problem that still remains is the lack of diversity and people of color in the journalism field, which is, of course, vital in all newsrooms.
What are you most proudest of?
I still have so much to accomplish. I don’t think I’ve hit that mark yet.
Lastly, how would you like to be remembered?
I once read a quote at a cemetery, “As you are, we once were. As we are, so you will be.” We focus so much on ourselves in this world – which is good, but also bad. We will all leave this Earth and I think what’s important is to take a moment every day and ask yourself, “How will I make this world beautiful today?” Whether it’s smiling at a stranger or donating money to a charity or a phone call to your mother, those acts are what people will remember. It’s not so much about the actual person; it’s how you make people feel and how your actions will affect future generations – that’s what will (and should) be remembered.