Iraq: Dec '09/Jan ‘10

A series of training sessions help improve skills of reporters, editors and television producers.

Iraq: Dec '09/Jan ‘10

A series of training sessions help improve skills of reporters, editors and television producers.

Wednesday, 10 February, 2010
IWPR Iraq has held a series of editorial training course aimed at building up the skills of both inexperienced and veteran local journalists.

Nine journalists and human rights activists attended a four-day course on human trafficking in Sulaimaniyah, led by IWPR staffer and women’s rights lawyer Razaw Ahmed.

Human trafficking is a highly sensitive topic rarely covered in Iraq’s media, and few journalists who attended the course said they were aware that it was an issue in their country.

The crime primarily affects women, who are moved around the country and smuggled abroad - often forced into prostitution. There’s a tendency in Iraq to regard these women as prostitutes rather than victims.

The students, from all parts of the country, learned about the hardships faced by trafficking victims and how trafficking operates in Iraq. Ahmed and Iraq editor Mariwan Hama-Saeed also advised the trainees on how to interview victims and report sensitively.

“For the participants the topic was very new,” Ahmed said. “We were able to cover many subjects, including the effects of trafficking. The course was very informative and encouraged participants to follow this issue and report on it in Iraq.”

Qais Muhamed Amin, a freelance journalist and human rights advocate in Mosul, said, “Before the training course, I was under the impression that trafficked women were criminals but after the course I realised that these women are victims.”

He said he intends to work on a story about trafficking along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

In a separate training session, IWPR editors trained 16 students in journalistic ethics and reporting and writing techniques. The course focused on improving the trainees’ feature reporting, including developing human interest stories.

“The training was unique for Iraq and the journalists were hungry for these skills,” Tiare Rath, IWPR Iraq’s editorial manager, said. “Iraqi journalists are primarily taught how to report hard news. We showed them how to develop stories of their own.”

In addition to in-class discussions and mock interviews with instructors, students reported on the streets of Sulaimaniyah, where the five-day training was conducted.

Khalid al-Ansary, a Baghdad-based journalist who primarily covers breaking news, said the session helped him to “think about my stories and to capture in my mind images of the places I visit. This helps [me] to produce stronger material and use more colour”.

In another course, four local IWPR editors were trained by London-based IWPR editor Daniella Peled, Rath and IWPR Iraq editor Neil Arun. The local editors, who are journalists and translators, are key members of Iraq’s editorial staff. They received guidance on journalistic ethics; editing; understanding libel and contempt laws; and writing comprehensive commissioning briefs.

IWPR Iraq senior local editor Abeer Mohammed, a seasoned reporter based in Baghdad, said the four-day session strengthened her editing skills. She said she is now able to write stronger leads; focus stories more; and identify weak or missing information in a story.

IWPR local editor Mohammad Furat said he found the section on commissioning briefs particularly useful, “I think it is already paying off. I am better equipped to prepare reporters.”

Elsewhere, IWPR Iraq’s Kurdish television magazine team is producing stronger stories on Iraqi human rights issues following a training course.

Nine producers, editors and reporters were taught how to research, report and structure television feature reports during a three-day course. The journalists, who are primarily documentary filmmakers, said the skills have improved their reports on human rights issues in Iraq.

Led by Rath, the session helped the team focus, shape and thoroughly report feature stories.

Assistant trainer Horen Gharib, a senior producer on IWPR’s Kurdish television magazine show, said the journalists are now able to report in-depth stories on human rights.

Nabaz Ahmed, a video editor, said he learned the importance of providing supporting evidence for such reports. “Before I didn’t ask for details, but now I know to ask for examples and figures on every issue,” he said.

IWPR Iraq editorial staff members Hemin H Lihony and Farah Ali contributed to this report from Sulaimaniyah and Baghdad.
Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq
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