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"One third of our Facebook fans are Arab" – NoCamels in Tel Aviv Written by Marguerite Imbert on 10. July 2012

Anouk Lorie is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of NoCamels, an English online magazine covering Israeli technology and innovation from Tel Aviv. En route to DLD Women from Tel Aviv, it felt right to spotlight this rising 27-year-old talent. Born and raised in Belgium, Lorie studied law as an undergraduate before receiving her masters in international journalism and serving at the Financial Times, Newsweek, and CNN (where she was an online features reporter for 2 1/2 years before leaving to launch the English-speaking blog in the then-emerging “Silicon Wadi”). “One third of our Facebook fans are Arab,” Lorie tells me from a 24-hour breakfast place in central Tel Aviv.
“When you take politics out of Israeli coverage, readers are more diverse. Innovation and technology are leveling fields. They’re peaceful,” Lorie explains. “We even have readers from Jordan.”

‘Innovation’ draws Arab readers, Jewish readers…

While 75% of NoCamels’ readers live outside of Israel (roughly 40% in the US), the mag is generating loyal and diverse readers within the politicized nation itself. Set in a polarized editorial sphere, Lorie is defying the salient political tension with universally relevant content: local Israeli solutions to global problems. “If there’s a new medicine formulated in the desert of Israel, you’ll want to read about it,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-Israel or not.”
Coverage on NoCamels ranges from biotech to breakthroughs in avatar travel to “news flash” roundups of fundings and mergers. They’re syndicated with Israel’s best-selling English daily (and most-frequently read English website) The Jerusalem Post as well as the major environmental news site ENN. “Our articles have gotten picked up by TechCrunch and Technorati,” she tells me. “For the students writing, that’s pretty cool.”

20 student journalists covering Israeli innovation

Led by Lorie, NoCamels is run by a staff of 20 student journalists (selected from a hundred applicants at the beginning of each year) from IDC, the indisciplinary college based in Herzliya (a sub-city in the Western half of Tel Aviv). The university hosts students from 82 different countries, making it the most diverse institute for higher education in Israel. “A good number of the students writing for us aren’t even native English-speakers,” Lorie tells me, unbothered. “Their ability to find stories, do research, do interviews, fact-check…those skills are a lot more valuable to me as an editor than native English. It’s very easy to quickly edit the copy before it goes live. I proofread everything.”

A response to the “hype” of Start-up Nation

“After Start-up Nation, everyone was talking about Israel’s tech scene, in particular Tel Aviv,” Lorie told me, reminding me of early conversations during VentureVillage’s launch back in November. “We created NoCamels in response to all the hype.”
As the buzz did well to surface, Israel has the highest density of tech startups in the world (with 80 companies listed on NASDAQ, more than all of Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.) For the amount of potential content, the team is sharply organised. Each section on site (Tech News, Health News, Environment, Social Awareness…) has one student editor running the show. All writers receive credits, but not payment, for their contributions. Right now, the mag has three interns (from Cambridge, MIT and NYU), and two permanent staff members including Lorie. “It’s coverage built by young writers who do it for free. I don’t write at all”

Good news for Israel’s news feed…

NoCamels is funded by the Jewish-Canadian family fund well-known as the Asper Institute. After her time in larger editorial spaces, Lorie appreciates that it’s a non-profit. Based on their own instinct and interest, Lorie and her team decided from the onset to cover Israel at large rather than just Tel Aviv. “A lot of the leading health and environment research is happening in the desert (Be’er Sheba, for instance),” she tells me. “This is the Israeli content that people want to read, regardless of their political or religious identification.”
Lorie is currently co-launching an English-speaking radio station at IDC.
Who runs the Israeli startup scene, according to you? Email
For related reading, check out: CEO Gil Hirsch on the Israeli startup scene
9 Signs You’ve Become a Startup Hipster