Reuters Foundation Co-Launches News Site for Iraqi Media

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By: E&P Staff

Reuters Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme have launched a Web site that will enable Iraqi media outlets to pool their news coverage.

Newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV stations can submit news items to the site, at www.aswataliraq.info and publish or broadcast news items submitted by other contributors. The “Voices of Iraq” site also carries reports from a network of individual Iraq journalists and from the Reuters Arabic Service. News is provided in Arabic with Kurdish and English-language options to be added in coming months.

“The need to improve the range and quality of domestic news available to Iraqi media is urgent,” said Jo Weir of the Reuters Foundation. “Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, new, uncensored media have emerged, but they have struggled to report events in a country of 26 million people where insecurity makes it risky to move around and inadequate telephones hamper communication. This project creates a network for them to exchange and share information, creating a more complete picture of what is happening across the country.”

A pilot of the site launched late last year. Since then, more than 960 news items have been published from 21 individual contributors and two newspapers.

The site is edited from Cairo, and contributions from Iraqi media are coordinated by a local journalist in Baghdad. The project — supported by United Nations funding — is being directed by Paul Eedle, a former senior editor at Reuters who has reported from Iraq.

As part of the project, the Reuters Foundation is providing training for Iraqi journalists. More than 50 have already attended journalism workshops in Jordan, and a number of journalists contributing to “Voices of Iraq” will attend training courses in London and Cairo over the next two months.

A group of 11 Iraqi media editors — including the heads of three major independent newspapers in Arabic and Kurdish — is involved in planning to develop the project into an independent Iraqi-owned news agency.

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