Iraq : Building a Sustainable Independent Nationwide News Agency for Iraq

 

Overview

Through the Building a Sustainable Independent Nationwide News Agency for Iraq project, IREX Europe aims to increase the scope of professional and objective news coverage supplied by the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) to media outlets. The project, supported by the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF), will enable NINA to open seven new bureaus across the country, expanding its regional coverage and improving its services to customers en route to commercial viability. IREX Europe will assist NINA in organizing the bureaus and providing professional development to the bureau correspondents, with the objective of increasing the sources of information citizens need to make effective political and economic choices and participate in their society.

Background

The tightly controlled media system functioning as a propaganda tool to extol the virtues of Saddam Hussein’s rule of Iraq is gone, replaced by a crammed market of newspapers and broadcasters offering a myriad of perspectives. However, as shown by the assessments of Iraqi media professionals participating in the Media Sustainability Index (MSI) conducted during 2006 by IREX Europe with support from UNESCO, Iraq has only begun to develop the free speech protections, journalistic professionalism, media management skills and supporting institutions necessary for a robust media sector that meets the information needs of citizens and contributes to government accountability. Additionally, Iraq has none of the safety conditions required for journalists to work.

It is in this context — where accurate information is so acutely needed, yet so dangerous to obtain and deliver – that the National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) was founded in October 2005. Until NINA began, Iraq lacked an independent news agency operating within the country, a fundamental element of the sustainable, professional media sector that, in turn, is a key underpinning for a functioning democracy. NINA, an Iraqi initiative supported by technical assistance from IREX, set its task as providing media outlets, NGOs and the public and private sectors with unbiased, accurate information.

Project Activities

The project aims at building NINA’s services to Iraqi media outlets, and their audiences, by:

  • Establishing NINA reporting offices in seven governorates;
  • Hiring and training additional Iraqi journalists as staff for these reporting offices, with an emphasis on recruiting women journalists;
  • Enriching NINA news coverage to include local government affairs, gender issues, the concerns of vulnerable groups, human rights and corruption;
  • Expanding accurate, balanced and responsible information available to Iraqis;
  • Building NINA’s position in the market en route to commercial viability.