Hello, my name is Lyse Doucet. I have been covering international news for the BBC for over 30 years. I was in Tehran last week. The first visit since 2009 to a country I have been reporting from since 1989.

Here's a link to my BBC News editor's blog: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-26612871

This is my Twitter account: https://twitter.com/bbclysedoucet

And here's a picture of me ready to answer your questions: https://twitter.com/bbclysedoucet/status/445556222717362176

UPDATE - Thank you to all...sadly, we have to bring our conversation to a close..I am sorry I couldn't answer all your questions, and respond to all your comments....but let's do it again sometime? And a special thank you to Mark Frankel and Chris Hamilton, my great BBC colleagues, and to the Reddit team..

Happy Persian New Year! Nawroz Mobarak !

Comments: 947 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

Rossums383 karma

Do you believe that the BBC is as impartial as it has always been, especially in regards to military involvement in foreign countries and other British matters such as Scottish independence?

Lyse_Doucet537 karma

thank you for all your questions and concerns...they are very important. My journalism at the BBC has been spent outside Britain, and often in areas of conflict...I cannot remember a single time where I have been told to report in a certain way or to give more credence to one side or another. I tend to be cautious in my reporting, and try to talk to as many people from as many sides as I can find.. On the London-centric point, I think the BBC is aware of this point and has been moving some of its studios and journalists away from London to better reflect views and voices from across the country.

Lyse_Doucet315 karma

Greetings to all redditors, wherever you are..and if you are Iranian, or Persian speaking, I hope the New Year (Nowruz) brings many blessings to you and yours..we should all be Persian and take this chance of a new beginning !

Meme0bsessed114 karma

Happy Naw Ruz to you too Ms. Doucet, I hope you join in on our celebrations on the 21st! Thank you for doing this AMA. My question is this, and please forgive its direct nature, I do not mean to be rude or assuming, however: are you under any certain indirect or direct pressures from people you may or may not know, to deliver the news from a certain 'angle', or have you ever been in a situation which you felt was dishonest in reporting the news? Do you have any comment regarding corporate owned media and the maladaptive utilisation of it in order to control public opinion and incite fear and/or aggression etc.?

Lyse_Doucet105 karma

Nowruz mobarak to you ! May it bring you many blessings! Gratefully, I have never felt under pressure to report in a certain way...or,as you put it, an angle... If anyone ever told me to report the news in a "dishonest" way I would have to take issue with them.. I often say I can only report what I see, and what I hear...and try as hard as possible to hear and see as much as I can..thank you - kheili mamnun!

smiles_and_cries215 karma

What is the biggest misconception we have about life in Iran?

Lyse_Doucet558 karma

Iran is one of the most hospitable places in the world. And Iranians are also among the most inventive people I have had the pleasure to spend time with. Please don't see it as a dark and hostile place. There are different views about the world, but it doesn't want to turn its back on the world.

NotCompletelyDumb164 karma

How do Iranian women feel about their status in society compared to what it was before the Islamic revolution?

Lyse_Doucet251 karma

Women's issues have always been at the heart of Iranian politics since the 1979 Islamic revolution. There have been advances in some areas including access to education including at University level, information and access to birth control, availability of some jobs, but not others. Women are still barred from many high level positions. Many women are hoping for greater freedoms after last year's election of the reformist President Rouhani. But, like most Iranians, they are also just hoping that sanctions will be lifted and their daily lives will improve...

NotCompletelyDumb104 karma

Do you need to be fluent in Farsi to report from Iran or do you have a translator or do most Iranians speak English (or French)?

Lyse_Doucet238 karma

The Persian language is music to the ear - whether its Farsi or Dari or Tajiki.. I speak a little bit..although Iranians notice my Afghan expressions, and Afghans notice my Iranian turns of phrase.. Being more fluent in this language is one of my personal goals.. Most of my languages come down to "courtesy & comedy." - enough to have a conversation and share a joke.. Humour is the most important language - everywhere !

NotCompletelyDumb69 karma

Thank you. I had a close Iranian friend who spoke Farsi, Arabic, Pashto, French and English, all fluently. It's embarrassing to be American when faced with that. :(

Lyse_Doucet90 karma

wow.. well, as they say..it's never too late to be the person you want to be..!

lula2488102 karma

In your 30 years of covering international news, what have been your best/worst experiences?

Have you ever been placed in a dangerous situation?

Lyse_Doucet253 karma

Life has its risks, wherever you are. A very good colleague spent years covering conflicts in the Middle East and then moved to New York and was run over by a bus.. fortunately, he survived. Being pursued by helicopter gunships in Afghanistan in the early 90's is an experience I won't forget..

ArreoTheCynic68 karma

What are things that surprised you during your visit?

What is daily life like for the young people of Iran and how does it compare to what we see in the Western world? Do they play video games, go insane over singers/bands, care about fashion and gossip?

Lyse_Doucet145 karma

Iranians are sometimes justifiably upset when we imagine they are somehow different from the rest of us. There is a very lively music scene, the fashion is fab (Iranian women even develop glamourous hair styles for their head scarves), Iranians of all political views are on the internet, talking to themselves and to the world. But they would like their restrictions to be lifted, and to have more freedom to come and go.

m1l4droid96 karma

Yes... we do all of those things. I love RPG games and I'm insane about Depeche Mode.

Lyse_Doucet59 karma


hassanvand60 karma

Hi Lyse! Would you tell us about your Internet experience in Iran? Thanks!

Lyse_Doucet108 karma

I was suprised by how widely used the internet was including social media. Iranians are very inventive. They've found ways around the blocks on sites like twitter and facebook. To my relief, I was able to access my email account and use twitter. And Iranians, of all political persuasions, quoted my posts .


Hi Lyse,

Thanks for doing this ama. There's a lot of rumours and scare stories about life for LGBT people in Iran. Were you able to get an impression of what life is like there for sexual minorities?

Lyse_Doucet81 karma

..there is a concern for minorities in Iran. President Rouhani has spoken about putting human rights of all kinds on the agenda. Unfortunately, on this last trip, there wasn't time to look at this particular issue...but you are right to raise it...

Tantalos90246 karma

What's your thoughts about the recent tragic death of the swedish correspondant, Nils Horner, after being ahot in Kabul, Afghanistan?

Lyse_Doucet71 karma

..this is not our topic today but I must reply..I heard about Nils's very very sad murder when I was in Tehran.. it was a terrible turn...to lose such a kind person who cared about Afghanistan, and to lose more of that special Kabul spirit where foreigners have always been made to feel at home.

Lyse_Doucet45 karma

...thank you fellow redditors..it's been great hearing from you...I am sorry I couldn't answere them all..I have to return to my day job..getting ready for my next trip...

wherever, whoever, you are...Nowruz Mobarak ! May March 21st, the start of the Persian New year, and first day of spring, bring joy..

tormentedslsc40 karma

Hi Lyse! Why do you think the general attitude of the West (western media) towards Iran has been changing in a positive way in the past few months?

Lyse_Doucet59 karma

..perhaps because more journalists are now being given visas to visit Iran ..and also because of the success of the nuclear negotiations so far..Also, the new leadership of President Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are engaging with the world with a different tone..

Madventuring36 karma

How did you get into international journalism?

Lyse_Doucet66 karma

I went to west africa after I finished graduate school in canada - first to work as a volunteer in a village school and then go to the capital to get some experience reporting..it was a case of "right place, right time." The BBC took me on to help as they were setting up their first office in West Africam in Abidjan. Somehow, I have managed to stay for 30 years..

Rkninja235 karma

How much has Iran changed since your last visit from 09 to last week. Any crazy things you have seen their?

Lyse_Doucet67 karma

Some things about Iran never change and I hope they never do - wonderful hospitality, fabulous food, breathtaking Islamic architecture, that certain spirit. Things which surprised - how many Western fashion shops are still operating despite sanctions. How bustling the bazaars are, although everyone complained about high prices, and shortages of some goods including medicines.

Rkninja213 karma

Thank You for your response! What's your favorite Iranian dish, mine chelo kabob.

Lyse_Doucet45 karma

I love sabzi of every kind ! and kashk-ebademjan is delicious.. I am honour bound to also note - the rice !!

kwonza31 karma

Say you have all the world listening to your one sentence, what would you say?

Lyse_Doucet63 karma

Listen....listen well.. to the stories that are told..and listen with your own questions..and compassion

coffeechikk31 karma

Did you have to learn a new accent or speech form to work for the BBC International service? Is your accent typical Acadian?

Lyse_Doucet40 karma

ha ha ! nice question...my accent has been an issue from the day i started..but as the years have gone by...it seems that listeners/viewers have got used to it, and the bbc has become a place of many accents..my accent is probably a blend of all the places I have lived in the past 30 years but I still sound like my mother.. :-)

TheKavahn27 karma

No questions from me, just a thank you from an aspiring international journalism student and Iranian American for your work.

Lyse_Doucet36 karma

..and a big thank you back ...may your dreams come true!

acidus126 karma

How do you think Irans' nuclear program is going to pan out?

Lyse_Doucet38 karma

that is the big question. on this visit i noticed that iranians, across the political spectrum, expressed support for a comprehensive nuclear deal..but that will require tough choices, on all sides..it's still not clear there will be a deal by late July..but what is clear is that there will be a lot of work to try to reach one..

malzob26 karma

Hi Lyse, When the (latest) Green revolution/riots took place, the western world was told about security monitoring and their near total coverage of the Tehran with CCTV. When you were there, does it feel as though you are being watched, is it as prolific as we are lead to believe and how do the people really feel about it (if it is as we were show/told) Thanks!

Lyse_Doucet49 karma

...I can't say precisely how much surveilliance there is..we weren't stopped from filming on this trip even though I have been stopped in the past...in general Iranians assume that their calls and email are monitored....but people get used to it, and are used to being careful about where they speak, and how they speak.. but that's the case in many countries..

GaryNOVA21 karma

Have you seen a big white commercial airliner anywhere?

Lyse_Doucet42 karma

i flew in one but not sure it is the one you are looking for..

p091066920 karma

Je n'ai aucune question, mais je voulais tout simplement vous faire des saluts en provenance du Nord du NB. Je suis très fier qu'une acadienne comme vous se démarque à l'international. Bravo, continuez votre travail acharné!

Lyse_Doucet18 karma

oh mille mercis !! c'est tres gentil! how kind of you to get in touch from the lovely north shore !

kjoro17 karma

What motivates you to continue this line of work?

What do you believe will happen by the end of this year?

Lyse_Doucet21 karma

I am very very privileged to be able to travel widely and keep returning to places where I now feel at home. My travel isn't just "work." It's also about friendships..and an appreciation for many cultures...But there is also a great responsibility to be able to tell the stories, and tell them well..the stories that matter in many places..

LuigiWasRight17 karma

Hi Lyse, thanks for doing this AMA!

Is there anything happening in the world right now (or in the past for that matter) that you feel deserves more global media coverage than it is getting (or got, as the case may be)?

Lyse_Doucet18 karma

thank you for joining! everyone always believes their story matters more than any other..i wish we had more space and time to cover more stories, more consistently. We're fortunate at the BBC that we have so many reporters in so many places. But you are right to point out that we shouldn't forget some places just because others are grabbing the headlines

adamimos116 karma

tell us about the food!

Lyse_Doucet19 karma

delicious !!

Doc_Faust15 karma

You said on your blog that "Suspicion still runs deep that negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme are a pretext to meddle in Iran. But the bravery of Iranian human rights activists, and the readiness of President Rouhani's administration to begin to take the lead on human rights issues was also notable."

How prevalent have you found the human rights activism to be in Tehran? Can you tell us (even just a little) about your personal experiences with this?

Lyse_Doucet31 karma

Iranians are bravely speaking out for their rights...in many ways..I had the honour of meeting some women human rights activists on International Women's Day in Iran when I was covering the visit of the EU's foreign policy chief. I have always been impressed by the ingenuity of Iranians who find ways, through their films and art and writing, to express their views despite any restrictions placed upon them.

rsmt15 karma

Hi, first of all thank you for doing this AMA.

I want to ask you if being a female has come in between you and what you wanted to achieve as a correspondant. Meaning, if you'd ever felt that being a male would have made things easier and decrease the threat you have faced during these years.

Would you encourage a young female to follow the career path you've chosen? Or is the risk too high?

Thank you very much for taking the time.

Lyse_Doucet27 karma

Hi..good luck with your journalism ! Perhaps I have been lucky. In my 30 years at the BBC I have never been told I can't go somewhere or do some story because I am female (although I have female colleagues in other media who have been stopped.) There are far more advantages than disadvantages in being a female journalist. But the best step forward is not to think of journalism in terms of your gender..just try to be the best journalist you can be.. Be careful..and be brilliant !

Fatmonkey8412 karma

How many marshmallows can you fit in your mouth? Also, what is the craziest thing you have seen in covering this war?

alphramwolfa6 karma


Fatmonkey843 karma


Lyse_Doucet30 karma

hmm...in Iran I try to eat only the best of Iranian food. I haven't ever met an Iranian marshmallow - Iranian redditors - have you seen any?

throwaway90210557011 karma

I am an Iranian-Canadian redditor - I was born in Iran - does that count? :P

Lyse_Doucet14 karma

welcome ! how do canadian marshmallows compare with Iranian ones? :-)

sticksarecool11 karma

What advice would you give to those wishing to get involved in international journalism?

Lyse_Doucet12 karma

tell the stories that interest you, and tell them well... go to e places you care about, know something about, and find out about their stories with a critical but compassionate eye..

Lyse_Doucet10 karma

..thank you for all of your comments and questions..and thank you for your kindness..and your humour :-) I am sorry I have not responded to all of you yet... but we still have a bit more time..

bobthebobd9 karma

Do you believe there can be a truly unbiased report, or is it best for the public to get their news from multiple sources to get the real picture?

NotCompletelyDumb6 karma

I think you meant "unbiased", but I could be wrong.

bobthebobd6 karma

thank you :)

NotCompletelyDumb6 karma

My pleasure

Lyse_Doucet37 karma

The more information the better. I always say journalism is defined by the questions we ask. As humans, we ask different questions based on our experiences and interests. As a journalist working for the BBC we do try to see a story from all sides and, after three decades at this place, I absolutely believe there is always more than one side to a story..

NotCompletelyDumb13 karma

Thank you, Lyse. FYI, you can actually reply to the first post directly. /u/bobthebobd in this case. You don't have to reply to the last post in a thread. Just saying. :)

Lyse_Doucet17 karma

thank you!

mush018 karma

Is John Simpson as nice in real life as he seems on TV?

Lyse_Doucet15 karma

John is a dear old friend and colleague..

mush015 karma

I feel kind of bad that I've had the opportunity to ask anything of one of the BBC's most eminent correspondents, and I only asked about another correspondent!

If I may be allowed a better question: Recent years have seen violent and tragically fatal protests against the regime in Iran. Has that anger dissipated now that there is a reformist President in office, or is it just simmering under the surface?

Lyse_Doucet14 karma

Iranians who voted in President Rouhani (by a strong majority) are still waiting to see more change..for example, two leaders of the "green revolution" of 2009 (Karoubi & Mousavi) are still under house arrest. We have the impression that Iranians are investing their hope and energy for now in the prospect of a long term nuclear deal that can help lift sanctions..if that succeeds, President Rouhani will be bolstered and he may be able to move on some of his other promises to Iranians.. if a deal isn't reached...well...we can't be certain..

I_have_arms6 karma

Long time Newshour listener, the finest impartial source of news, keep up the good work Lyse :)

Do you think cut's to BBC WS foreign language services are going to make a major impact upon the availability of impartial news sources, especially in media oppressive regimes?

Lyse_Doucet9 karma

oh thank you so much for listening to Newshour !

lonelysound5 karma

Did you travel to other cities other than Tehran? and What would you miss the most about Iran?

Lyse_Doucet9 karma

on this short trip we were only in Tehran..on my last trip in 2009 we were also in beautiful Isfahan.. I really missed being in Iran, being part of a very impassioned conversation, discovering what's new on the art scene, and savouring their ancient exquisite heritage..

toomanynamesaretook3 karma

Are many people in Iran still angry towards the United States for historical grievances? The Shah, supporting Saddam...

Lyse_Doucet10 karma

..history is still lived in the present in Iran..but many Iranians are also ready to turn the page..as long as they are convinced history will not repeat itself..

Turdsworth3 karma

I don't have a question I just want to say thanks to you and everyone at the BBC for your great reporting. I listen to the world service every day.

Lyse_Doucet6 karma

thank you so much !

Asmodeane3 karma

Hi Lyse, I've been watching BBC for years and years, and your name never failed to pop up, usually in connection with some (more or less) remote war-torn place, some place where being a reporter, especially one of a female persuasion, is not something conductive to longevity.

My question is, how do you do it? How do you motivate yourself to throw yourself "once more onto the breach", so to speak, time and time again, for years and years?

Lyse_Doucet8 karma

thank you for your question....I tend to keep going back to places where I have lived, and have a sense of place..so I don't think of them as remote war torn places..there is always humanity in the most inhumane of situations.....it is hard at times...but it is hardest of all for the people who live this hardship..the situation in syria is often heartbreaking...

arkaytroll3 karma

Why do war hawks in the USA want to start war with Iran? Is Iran as evil as they want me to believe?

Lyse_Doucet10 karma

..there is still deep distrust between Tehran and Washington after more than thirty years of separation and suspician.. this new engagement is an important opportunity to deal with this mistrust..Iran is a vibrant nation of many views..but I found on this trip that Iranians, across the political spectrum, want an engagement with the wider world...

Slab_Heap_Pout2 karma

Hi Lyse! Why did you leave the CBC? We miss you!

Lyse_Doucet4 karma

thank you ! i still occasionally do work for CBC, |I have many friends there..and I am still Canadian ! :-)