EVENT: “Woman, Life, Freedom”: Reporting #MahsaAmini Protests in Solidarity

Mahsa Amini was 22 years old. Her death on September 16, 2022 has sparked ongoing protests in Iran and solidarity protests across the world, with protestors chanting “Woman, life, freedom” in multiple languages. Videos and photos of women removing the hijab and cutting their hair have gone viral on social media, prompting some in the West to conclude, incorrectly, that the hijab is ultimately what the protestors stand against. Join us for a discussion with Iranian journalists and media scholars who will offer their insights into the demands of protestors, and what reporting in solidarity with Iranian women means right now. Panelists will offer practical advice on framing, word choice, and context for covering what has quickly become a global movement for change.

Register for this virtual event on Eventbrite.


Tara Kangarlou, Global affairs journalist and author of The Heartbeat of Iran

Afrooz Mosallaei, Rutgers University

Sara Shaban, Seattle Pacific University and author of Iranian Feminism and Transnational Ethics in Media Discourse

Moderator: Anita Varma, Solidarity Journalism Initiative, Center for Media Engagement at UT Austin

Panelist Bios:

Tara Kangarlou is an award-winning American journalist who has previously worked with news outlets such as NBC-LA, CNN, CNN International and Al Jazeera America. Her writing and reporting has also appeared in TIME Magazine, Al Monitor, Vanity Fair, and The Huffington Post. She is a frequent on-air contributor for various international news outlets covering the MENA region, foreign affairs, and humanitarian issues. As a journalist, she has interviewed many high ranking government officials, heads of states, and newsmakers in the US and around the world. She has also spent much time covering the rise and fall of ISIS, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the unprecedented Syrian refugee crisis, as well as other pressing humanitarian issues worldwide. Born out of her extensive reporting and firsthand knowledge of the global refugee crisis, in 2016, she founded Art of Hope, the first American nonprofit that solely focuses on supporting the mental well-being of war-torn refugees in vulnerable communities. After nearly four years of reporting, research, and writing, her award-winning book, The Heartbeat of Iran was published in 2021.The book perfectly reveals the many complexities and nuanced realities of life in Iran through the very intimate and textured stories of its people. Tara was born and raised in Tehran and moved to the US in her late teens. She is fully bilingual in English and Farsi, and currently splits her time between London and Washington DC where she’s an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Tara has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from UCLA and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from USC.

Afrooz Mosallaei is a second-year Ph.D. student in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University. She focuses her research on the visual content of news, where she examines the dynamics of visual editing and the images that get published and make their way out to the general public. Furthermore, she is interested in the intersection of visual and political communication with a focus on the representation of others in U.S. media. Her current research examines how newsreaders perceive and interpret the (in)congruency between images and text in online news articles. Mosallaei’s work has been recognized with a national academic award in 2022. Prior to joining Rutgers, she received her master’s degree in Communication, Culture, and Media at Drexel University. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Photography from the University of Tehran in Iran.

Sara Shaban is a critical/cultural scholar focused on the intersections between media, women’s social movements, and geopolitics in the Middle East. Shaban’s academic work is rooted within the theoretical frameworks of transnationalism and femonationalism. Her award-winning research is published in the International Journal of Communication and Communication and Critical Cultural Studies. She recently published her first book, Iranian Feminism and Transnational Ethics in Media Discourse. Prior to life in academia, Shaban worked in U.S. local news as a producer before pursuing freelance journalism in Israel, the West Bank, and Sierra Leone. Shaban is fueled by her passion for social justice, specifically for immigrants and refugees. She was involved in initiatives to improve conditions for incoming refugees during the 2015 crisis and served as a volunteer and board member for the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program in St. Louis. Additionally, she served as the communications director for the St. Louis based NGO Project Peanut Butter — an organization committed to the eradication of child malnutrition throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Anita Varma leads the Solidarity Journalism Initiative at the Center for Media Engagement (University of Texas at Austin), where she is also an assistant professor focused on journalism ethics. She is on the board of the Society of Professional Journalists (Northern California Chapter) and the advisory board of The Objective.