When Social Media Becomes a Wartime Necessity

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Vivian Yee and Hwaida Saad, who report on the Middle East and are based in Beirut, Lebanon, discussed the tech they’re using.

Vivian, you were previously a New York metro reporter and a national immigration reporter. How has your use of tech changed in covering the Middle East?

Vivian: Living in Beirut, I’m lucky I can still get access to most of the same tech products I used back in the United States. The internet isn’t censored the way it is for some of our colleagues in other parts of the world, for instance, although the quality of my internet connection in Lebanon leaves something (O.K., a lot!) to be desired.

But I cover a region where many governments control the internet and monitor communications to a degree that would be unimaginable to anyone living in the United States. In Egypt, for instance, certain websites considered independent or critical of the authorities were blocked when I tried to follow their coverage of a referendum I reported on.

When it comes to countries like Syria, the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, I have to consider whether I could get someone in trouble with the government for touching on sensitive topics in online or phone conversations.

It’s also not easy to get journalist visas or press credentials in many of those countries. That means I have to do a lot of interviews from Beirut — via WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram or Facebook Messenger — instead of going

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