Shorsh Khalid | Institute for War and Peace Reporting
I was born in Kirkuk on March 9, 1985, but my family was expelled by the Baathist regime and we moved to Sulaimanyah. I graduated in media studies from Sulaimaniyah University.
During my time at college, I worked with for a youth newspaper and became the editor of its social pages.
Besides journalism, I have been active in civil society projects. I organised many peaceful demonstrations when I was a student, such as a protest against political party interference in the university. I also participated in leadership training courses organised by local and international NGOs.
After university, I joined my region’s best-selling newspaper Hawlati, and two years later I became head of the political affairs section and the news website. Then I worked with the Weekly Dastur newspaper, taking charge of its culture and social section.
Now I am an IWPR trainee reporter in Sulaimanyah. IWPR is a driving force behind me and from the beginning has been an inspiration.
From IWPR training sessions, I have learnt a lot about how to edit content and get information from sources. Unlike any other training institution I’ve experienced, IWPR has taught me what editing is. It has shown me how best to communicate with readers; how to gather information and how to keep to the point.
One of my favourite pieces was one called Kurdish War of Words. This was about political tensions resulting from a series of attacks on opposition politicians. Working on such a story in Kurdistan is not an easy thing. The report was republished in some local publications. This made me happy and proud and some people called me and praised the report, saying it was different from other reports written on the same topic.
The article showed that it was possible the growing tensions would lead to another civil war, similar to the one in the 1990s. While writing the report, I felt I was warning the public and the outside world that there was a possibility of conflict. The most important thing about the report was that I was notifying the public of a danger.
One of the reasons that led me to work for IWPR was the opportunity to become a professional journalist. Our local press lacks professionalism. IWPR have made a great contribution to improving my skills. Prior to my training session at IWPR, I would find it really difficult to interview officials. It was hard to get answers. But now, when I introduce myself as an IWPR reporter, I get questions answered more easily.
For me, journalism serves as a messenger of truth. The media should cover events the way they happen. Reporters should convey things to the public as they happen. This way, they can win the public’s trust.
Journalism has the potential to eradicate the differences between the various communities in Iraq. It can help reduce sectarian violence and political rivalries.