Ali Rae: Multimedia journalism and filmmaking

This article was originally published in Issue 1, 2020 of the School’s Gazette publication.
Read the full edition online, here.

Last year, Ali Rae (2005) won a Walkely Award for her work on ‘All Hail The Algorithm’, a five-part series that explores the impact of algorithms, biometrics and big data on our everyday lives. While humbled by the recognition the series has received, Ali said she is most proud of her work challenging the status quo of journalism production.

What is your current job title and role?

I am a Digital Senior Producer for Al Jazeera

What do you love most about working for Al Jazeera?

Al Jazeera is driven by a mission to elevate human stories that are otherwise ignored, report with integrity and hold those in power accountable. In fulfilling this mission, I really appreciate that our network is tremendously diverse—not just in terms of nationalities —but backgrounds, perspectives and experiences.

What are your strongest memories from your time at the School?

The sheer variety of co-curricular activities always astounded me. While other schools tended to label students as either ‘academic’ or ‘sporty’, BGGS had this amazing ability to support and encourage everything, from the creative arts and outdoor education, to languages and community activism.

What was the most significant impact that your time at BGGS had on your life after school?

It’s only after leaving school that I realised how much a person’s education isn’t about memorising facts and formulas to achieve good grades or pass an exam. A quality education goes further. It provides experiences that enable us to gain the knowledge and skills needed to better ourselves and the world in which we live. Curiosity, empathy, community—these are some of the most valuable skills that were shaped during my time at school.

What would you say is your greatest achievement since leaving school?

Awards are wonderful and humbling, but can sometimes be a superficial indicator of success. I’m most proud to have been at the forefront of digital change and carving out a space to produce a series that challenges the status quo of journalism production. When I started at Al Jazeera, ‘digital producing’ wasn’t a specific job title. Now, there are whole departments dedicated to digital output. As journalism continues to evolve, my hope is to have made inroads that enable the next wave of young journalists to pursue stories in different formats so that we can all better understand the world around us.

Ali Rae (2005)

Ali Rae interviewing Samantha Bradshaw from the Oxford Internet Institute, on the use of algorithms for digital manipulation

Ali filming in New York City

Filming with the DJI Osmo camera in Amman, Jordan for an episode on the use of biometric technology in Za’atari refugee camp