The international Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) recently launched a newsletter in Iraq which provides journalists with information about issues such as security and legal protection.
Issued twice a month by the Iraq office of IWPR, the newsletter, Metro Media, "is part of an IWPR program called Safety, Security, and Legal Protection for Journalists," according to the Iraq-based Mariwan Hama-Saeed, IWPR's editor and online training coordinator. The newsletter is published in Kurdish and Arabic. It was first issued January 17.
IJNet recently spoke to Saeed about the Metro Media.
IJNet: What is the goal of this newsletter?
Saeed: The goal is to educate Iraqi journalists on the issues that affect them. In the first issues, we've covered issues such as First Aid for journalists, Ethics in journalism and Op-Eds from leading lawyers on press related issues. In addition we publish news about violations against journalists, so that we can document those cases and also publicize them. The project is really unique in Iraq; journalists usually cover other people and issues, it is important that we have a newsletter that only covers journalists and journalism related issues.
IJNet: Why Iraq?
Saeed: Although the security situation has improved in Iraq, the country remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists. In addition to security problems, we have other issues. We have an outdated press law and journalists can go to jail for press related offenses. We want to educate journalists on their rights and the environment they work in.
IJNet: How can journalists subscribe?
Saeed: Right now we distribute the newsletter via email to a list of Iraqi journalists. We are working on expanding the list. We also print about 500 copies and distribute them to news organizations. An electronic version of it will also be published on the web site of the Baghdad-Based Journalistic Freedom Observatory.
IJNet: How often do you issue it?
Saeed: The newsletter is published twice a month (one Arabic issue and one Kurdish issue per month, staggered every two weeks). The Arabic will be published on the first of every month and the Kurdish version will be published on the 15th of the month. I have to note that although some articles cross-over in the Kurdish and the Arabic version, most of the content is different. The reason is that the issues that journalists encounter in Iraqi Kurdistan are different from what their colleagues face in other parts of Iraq. For example, there is a new press law in Iraqi Kurdistan that has replaced the outdated 1969 press law, and as you know journalists in that region don't have a lot of security issues.
IJNet: Who contributes to your newsletter? Do you have volunteers write for you or do you have your own writers?
Saeed: Currently, we receive news from some lawyers that work for IWPR, but we encourage journalists and press freedom advocates to contribute to the newsletter.