Controversy erupted on social media over a female Egyptian journalist, who was the first from the country to cover the Academy Awards ceremony, after she proposed an “incomprehensible” question to Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Shaimaa Abdel Moniem, a young arts journalist at the privately-owned newspaper Youm7, sent a request to the academy to cover the famous event and, although her request was a stretch, she was surprisingly accepted to be among the pool of reporters posing questions to award winners.
A one-minute video was published on social media showing footage of DiCaprio and director Alejandro Inarritu backstage receiving questions from journalists following their win for "The Revenant".
“I’m a first Egyptian journalist covering Oscars from here, and what about the first Oscars for you?” Abdel Moneim asked DiCaprio, who looked confused as he asked the journalist to repeat the question.
“For your Oscar,” the journalist said. “Yeah, it feels amazing” DiCaprio replied, with laughs resounding in the room, mocking the obvious question.
“It’s a first, what about that?” she said again. “Yeah, it is the first. Look, like I said, I’m just incredibly grateful. Thank you,” DiCaprio answered.
Facebook users harshly criticized the young journalist for not being prepared for the interview. Given that she is the first Egyptian journalist, it may weigh negatively on the image of Egyptian journalism in front of the world. Moreover, social media users wondered if the academy may not allow Egyptian journalists to cover the ceremony in the future.
“Actually, we are not blaming her for the bad accent as long as she is not a native speaker, but she should have asked a complete question instead with better grammar and structure,” said one Facebook user.
The journalist did receive some support from others who believe she was confused by the situation since it’s her first chance to cover the Oscars and ask a one-on-one question with a superstar like DiCaprio.
“Abdel Moniem is a workaholic journalist who exerted heavy effort to receive the academy's confirmation to let her come and cover the ceremony. They don’t usually accept anybody. She has undergone many tests to be accepted and finally she did it,” Ali Al-Kashouty, an entertainment journalist at Youm7 and a close friend to the journalist, posted on his Facebook account.
“I’m a reporter and I know very well how reporters can stammer in big events despite their sleepless nights preparing for it and its questions,” Kashouty said.
Editor-in-chief of Youm7 Khaled Salah posted on his official Facebook account that the journalist is a professional and she succeeded in covering the event as much as she could and the newspaper supports her.
“Her English is good enough to enable her to ask a well-structured question, but I believe that confusion was the reason, especially since her voice was not clear. It’s very common as sometimes many superstars get confused on stage,” he said.
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