• Denise Paglinawan

Afghan refugee says CBC’s Carol Off an inspiration to her

Despite the danger her family was put through by Carol Off’s reporting, the Aryubwal family considers Off like a family member, says Robina Aryubwal

CBC journalist Carol Off speaks about her new book All We Leave Behind during a public lecture at Ryerson University on Wednesday. (RSJ/Denise Paglinawan)

Years after being at the centre of CBC journalist Carol Off’s reporting on Afghan warlords, Robina Aryubwal says the veteran reporter has been an inspiration to her and her family.

“She was the person who gave me hope that I can be a strong woman and I can help other women all over the world,” Aryubwal said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Robina Aryubwal, 29, is the eldest daughter of Asad Aryubwal, Off’s on-camera source in a documentary revealing crimes of Afghan warlord Adbul Rashid Dostum.

After the broadcast, Aryubwal’s family spent nine years in exile in Pakistan after being targeted by Dostum.

Although Off’s reporting “created problems” for her family, Robina Aryubwal said the journalist has helped her family by sponsoring them and sending money while they were in exile.

“She was such a good friend,” she said. “She was more than a family member [to us].”

Carol Off helped Asad Aryubwal’s family while they were in exile in Pakistan. (RSJ/Denise Paglinawan)

Personal obligations of journalists

Speaking during the annual Atkinson Lecture at Ryerson University, Off said covering Asad Aryubwal has made her rethink her personal obligations as a journalist.

“There was and is no doubt in my mind that I had an obligation,” Off said Wednesday.

The journalist said she has been criticized by other journalists for her relationship with her sources.

Journalists’ relationship with sources

“Without sources, we have no journalism,” Off told her audience of mainly journalism students.

There are complex relationships between journalists and their sources, she said.

She said her relationship with the Aryubwals gave her “ethical dilemmas every day.”

Allison Ridgway, one of the organizers of the Atkinson Lecture, said it is important to discuss the relationship between journalists and their sources.

“It’s important to have that discussion of where your reporting ends and where your humanity begins,” Ridgway said.

© Denise Paglinawan 2020

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