Lines of Communication

At the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Nart Bouran helps deliver undistorted versions of world events.

Nart Bouran

In the Middle East and northern Africa, genuine, unfiltered news is a rare commodity. The Middle East Broadcasting Networks exist to address this gap. Based in Virginia and funded by Congress, MBN provides Arabic-language television (the Alhurra networks) and radio (Sawa) to more than 24.7 million people weekly, along with associated digital channels.

Since April 2018, MBN’s senior VP for news, programming, and transformation has been Nart Bouran ’89 BA (IR). He brings an impressive journalistic resumé, including 15 years as a reporter, editor, and con-tent director with Reuters (with assignments in Algeria, Chechnya, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen). Bouran, a Jordanian native, also oversaw content for three Middle East media groups, including Sky News Arabia, of which he was founding director.

To counteract anti-American reporting, MBN’s role, he explains, is “to expand the spectrum of ideas, opinions, and perspectives available in the [region’s] media.” MBN covers “social, political, and cultural issues not regularly reported on in the Arabic media, including human rights, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.” For MBN’s digital platforms, the goals are more pointed: They target specific countries and deal with topics such as extremism, attempting to “change the narrative,” Bouran says, “by lending a voice to the voiceless in danger and conflict zones.”

Success is measured in audience feedback, even when it’s negative. “Sometimes people don’t like what we are saying,” he adds, “because we are saying exactly what needs to be said.”

This article appeared in the fall 2019 print edition of Maxwell Perspective © Maxwell School of Syracuse University. To request a copy, e-mail