Anna Therese Day makes her living looking for trouble – and reporting on it.
She and people like her are the reason you know what you do about what’s happening to people in countries, especially in the Middle East, where conflict, repression of human rights and deadly crackdowns on dissent are the norm.
As a sister journalist, I couldn’t be prouder of this incredibly smart, bold and driven young woman. As a mother, I need a Tums.
Anna loomed larger than life in late January at a women’s luncheon in Saratoga Springs because she spoke not from the podium as planned, but via large-screen wall-mounted monitors — from an undisclosed location in Cairo.
She couldn’t get out of Egypt. Not safely, anyway.
Anna was there with other independent journalists on the fifth anniversary of the uprising in Egypt that, for a while, held the promise of a new democracy. Instead the country has ended up being a place where political dissent and criticism from the media is crushed.
Anna had been booked months earlier to speak at the Cabin Fever luncheon, an annual fund-raiser for local and global initiatives to benefit women, girls and communities presented by Soroptimist International of Saratoga County.
A packed room watched this poised young woman nonchalantly discuss what was going on in a freshly recorded Skype interview with Saratoga Soroptimist Teal Vivacqua. She and other journalists couldn’t report or leave, and were squirreled away in what in a comfortable hideaway.
I was eager to share this story that day, but readily agreed not to, for her safety. I would never want to put her in danger.
She doesn’t need anyone’s help for that.
Anna got out of Egypt safely. She was home in the states, briefly. Next thing you know she was back in the Middle East, this time in Bahrain. And this time she was imprisoned, mistreated and, she admitted, scared.
Long story short, Anna was released and is safe again, for now.
Interviewed at The Huffington Post, for whom she regularly writes, with her long blond hair, Anna looks like her beat could be California celebrities — until she opens her mouth and articulately explains why the U.S. government cares about Bahrain and why American citizens should, too. And while noting that other reporters remained in prison, she describes her experience in the dispassionate manner of a journalist telling someone else’s story.
Anna is not fearless. That would be dumb, and this Fulbright Fellow, named one of Google Zeitgist’s top Great Young Minds, is not dumb. But she doesn’t live in fear, either.
Anna is a founder of an organization to support freelance journalists working in areas of conflict. This is a growing group, as financial and safety concerns have contributed to mainstream media cutbacks of international coverage by employees. You can follow her and the reporting being done @ATDLive.
Anna and people like her have something in their DNA that drives them to shine a light on what’s happening in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Lucky for us.