Iraq: Oct/Nov ‘10

Iraqi trainees say they learnt important journalistic lessons from IWPR course.

Iraq: Oct/Nov ‘10

Iraqi trainees say they learnt important journalistic lessons from IWPR course.

Wednesday, 5 January, 2011

Baghdad reporters say their journalism has improved after attending a recent training course at IWPR’s head office in the Iraqi capital.
 
The November event was part of the Institute’s ongoing efforts to develop a new generation of professional journalists capable of influencing decision-makers through their journalism.
 
Nine reporters from Baghdad-based news organisations participated in the training session – led by IWPR’s senior media adviser Hiwa Osman – which focused on journalistic ethics, interviewing skills and feature writing.
 
In interviews conducted after the event, all the trainees said that the course improved their reporting skills and understanding of the ethics of journalism.
 
Khalid Waleed, a journalist at the Al-Hurrah television station, said, “My journalism changed as a result of the training. For example, I used to use slang terms; I was sometimes biased and I rarely produced colour (descriptive reporting). After the training session, I learned to use appropriate terms that could be understood by everyone, and I learned not to include my own opinion in any report or article.”
 
Muneer Jasim, a reporter for the Baghdad Post newspaper, said she learnt important lessons about the need to write accurately and without emotion, during a practical session in which a feature story about the conflict in Sarajevo was discussed. The story, reported by the late war correspondent Kurt Schork, focused on a couple who died in each other’s arms while trying to escape the war.
 
“Hiwa (the instructor) used this story as an example of the importance of reporting something we’ve witnessed without exaggeration,” Jasim said.
 
She said that in order to reinforce the message, the students were asked to describe a series of photos displayed on the walls of the classroom without adding any additional information. “I used to exaggerate to make my stories more interesting, but I stopped doing this after the training session,” she said.
 
Diana al-Obaidi, a former New-York Times correspondent, said she gained a great deal from the feature-writing component of the course.
 
“I feel like I can write and produce better features after the course. I also learned how to conduct interviews by asking appropriate questions at press conferences. The skills I learned were just wonderful,” she said.
 
Osman, who has conducted training sessions for IWPR since the Iraq programme was established in 2003, assessed the trainees before and after the course.  “The trainees were engaged and were really eager to learn new methods,” he said. “After the course, their writing skills were much better, as were their descriptive powers and ability to question sources.” 
 
IWPR Iraq senior local editor Abeer Mohammed, herself once an IWPR trainee, guided the students on how to develop and pitch good story ideas and find strong sources.  “The trainees were really responsive, even though they were relatively young,” she said. “On the last day, they were able to come up with good ideas that can be developed into strong stories."
 
Farah Ali is IWPR Iraq’s editorial coordinator and translator. She is based in Baghdad. 

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