Remembering Serena

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Serena Shim filming a report at a Baghdad checkpoint earlier this year. Source: Facebook.

I didn’t know Serena Shim very well and I haven’t spoken to her in years. She was killed yesterday in Turkey, apparently in a car accident. Her employer, Press TV, is linking the death to threats she had received from Turkish security services a few days earlier. But so far there isn’t a lot of evidence to better understand the conditions of the crash.

I met Serena about 8 or 9 years ago at a media production company we worked at in Beirut. She was fresh out of school and began anchoring a program. She had lived in the US and would say things like “I come from the Burj,” with a thick Detroit accent. Her reference was to Burj Al Barajneh, a densely populated neighborhood in south Beirut close to a major Palestinian refugee camp. She also occasionally wore ‘boots with the fur’ which were in fashion at the time.  Serena donned the veil only on camera due to the policy of her employer.

Though some of us in the office didn’t think she was ready to anchor a program, Serena ended up proving everyone wrong and went on to cover conflict zones around the world from Iraq to Ukraine. She was hard working and enthusiastic. But I will always remember her sassy attitude and the way she would make us laugh during the brief period we worked together. RIP Serena: we can only imagine where your career would have taken you.

Watch her last broadcast here, as she describes the pressure she was under by Turkish authorities, who had accused her of “spying.”