NBC News Setting Up Shop in Beirut

May 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment

NBC News is establishing a Middle East bureau in Beirut, Lebanon, and Richard Engel, who has lived in the region for more than a decade, has been named the network’s Middle East correspondent and chief of the bureau.

Mr. Engel, who is fluent in Arabic, has been at the forefront of NBC’s coverage from its Baghdad bureau for more than three years and will continue to cover Iraq on assignment. He also will expand his Blogging Baghdad Web page to include stories from outside Iraq.

The new Beirut bureau will be NBC’s first on that turf since the mid-1970s.

In addition to Baghdad bureaus, CBS News has a bureau in Tel Aviv, Israel, and an office in Amman, Jordan; and ABC News has bureaus in Jerusalem and Cairo.

Mr. Engel will continue to cover Iraq on assignment and will broaden the focus of his Web page on MSNBC.com, Blogging Baghdad, to include stories, anecdotes, analysis and personal reflections outside of Iraq.

NBC News President Steve Capus said in Monday’s announcement: “This is a real commitment of resources during an extremely important point in time, especially in that unique part of the world.”

NBC News’ choice of Beirut involved such considerations as its airports being well connected to the rest of the Middle East and its status as an international media hub, as well as its mix of religious and ethnic groups that have interests in changes in the region.

“Lebanon is a small country with a well-educated population that quickly reflects the political and religious swings in the Middle East,” Mr. Engel continued. “Eighteen different religious sects live in Lebanon, which is also heavily influenced by Iran, Syria, Israel, Europe and the United States. It is difficult for something to happen in the Middle East and not ‘feel it’ in Lebanon.”