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Iraq: Sep ‘08

IWPR preparations for the new training programmes forge ahead.
By IWPR

IWPR Iraq opened a new office, expanded its editorial staff and prepared to train dozens of journalists in September.

The developments were part of IWPR Iraq’s fast-growing editorial and journalists’ training programmes. 

IWPR opened editorial and computer training facilities and a radio studio in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil, adding to the Institute’s editorial and training centre in Sulaimainiyah, the other city in the region.

IWPR Iraq also began developing its new facilities in Baghdad, where the programme also plans to re-establish editorial offices and hold a safety, security and legal protection programme for journalists – the first programme of its kind to be run inside Iraq. 

“We are bringing the concept of hostile environment training and legal protection for journalists to this country,” said IWPR’s Middle East Programme Director Ammar Al Shahbander. “This is the first time any organisation has attempted to do so on such a scale.”

For security reasons, IWPR Iraq has been based in Sulaimaniyah for the past three years. As Iraq’s security improves, and as IWPR Iraq builds its programmes, it will expand its presence throughout the country, including opening a training and editorial centre in Basra next year.

Starting off with elections coverage training for local media, the Basra office will also provide training and mentoring for aspiring female journalists.

“Our Basra office will be the beginning of a new phase in IWPR’s programming in Iraq,” said Hiwa Osman, IWPR’s Iraq Country Director “We will bring our experience from the rest of Iraq to the south hoping to contribute to the development of the local media in that area.”

IWPR is also working to finalise a deal with Radio Nawa, one of Iraq’s most popular bi-lingual radio stations, to house the station’s Arabic service at IWPR’s offices and studio in Erbil. IWPR will help build Radio Nawa’s editorial and production capacities.

In Erbil, print, television, radio and multimedia journalists will be trained in IWPR’s centre, which opened in September with new editorial staff. As IWPR Iraq prepares to increase editorial production in online, video and radio, the programme is hiring new translators and local editors.

Also in September, one of our Iraq editors, Roman Zagros, began training newly-recruited IWPR editorial staff. 

“Since most our work requires bilingual if not trilingual sub-editors and translators, we need to make sure utmost care is taken when switching between languages so that linguistic subtleties This is an on the job training and requires close mentoring and constant feedback for months,” said Zagros. 

The training sessions are part of IWPR’s ongoing strategy to empower and improve the skills of local journalists and editors. 

As part of the “train the trainer” strategy, IWPR is planning to train editors of several Iraqi newspapers, news agencies and radio stations ahead of the provincial elections, which are scheduled to be held in January 2009. 

The editors will “pass on the acquired skills to others in their organisations”, said Zagros.

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