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Reporters Without Borders urges Iraq authorities to reopen radio station

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has urged authorities in Iraq to reconsider the closure of radio station Al-Sada, reportedly the only independent broadcaster in the Al-Qadisiya province.

At the weekend RSF reported that the station was closed down because of music “contrary to local morality”, but that the local branch of the Iraqi journalists’ union had warned that the decision “violated freedom of the press as guaranteed by the constitution”.

Its representative stressed that such a move was unprecedented in Iraqi justice and warned of the dangers that it might present for the media industry.

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NYT: Saddam Hussein ordered killing of Observer journalist, records show

Transcripts of recordings published by the New York Times reveal that Saddam Hussein personally ordered the execution of Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft, who was hanged in Iraq in 1990.

The transcript of a conversation between Iraq’s former leader and the country’s then-foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, reads:

Hussein: We will execute him during Ramadan, in Ramadan, as punishment for Margaret Thatcher.

The documents, which were seized by the US military during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, were yesterday released by the Conflict Records Research Center, a US government archive.

The case of Bazoft, an Iranian-born freelance journalist who worked for the Observer, drew worldwide attention at the time, and the British government appealed for clemency.

The Guardian has more on Bazoft and states:

It appears that even if Bazoft had had British citizenship at the time of his arrest, this would not have saved him.

The document archive reveals the conspiratorial mind-set of Hussein, according to the NY Times, and demonstrates that the Iraqi leader believed Bazoft was an “Israeli spy working for the British”.

The New York Times states:

Even in an age of WikiLeaks, such a detailed record of a foreign leader’s private ruminations is rare.

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Spanish judge to travel to Iraq to visit scene of cameraman’s death

The BBC reports today that a Spanish judge will travel to Iraq to visit the scene where cameraman Jose Couso was killed by tank fire, at Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, a base for journalists during the invasion of the country.

Journalism.co.uk reported in July last year that an investigation into the death of the Spanish journalist had been reopened.

Another journalist, Reuters reporter Taras Protsyuk, from the Ukraine, was also killed by the tank shelling at the Palestine Hotel on 8 April 2003.

The BBC report today says that a prosecutor has warned that evidence gathered may not be admissable in court but that investigating magistrate Santiago Pedraz said that “visiting the scene of the cameraman’s death was a crucial part of proceedings”.

He will travel to Baghdad with four journalists who witnessed what happened, and three lawyers.

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MediaGuardian: Guardian wins appeal against Iraq libel ruling

January 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Newspapers

The Guardian has won its appeal against an Iraqi court ruling which found the paper had defamed the country’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

The article in question, written by the Guardian’s award-winning Iraq correspondent, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, described fears inside Iraq that the prime minister was ruling in an increasingly autocratic manner. It reported the views of three intelligence officers, and a range of others, who commented on the nature of al-Maliki’s rule.

Full story on the Guardian at this link.

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On The Media: The fate of Iraqi fixers

September 6th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Fascinating audio on Iraqi fixers and their fate as US journalists and troops leave Iraq, courtesy of On The Media, focusing on Hussam Ali al-Mussawi, who has worked with titles including the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times.

Full On the Media post at this link…

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Iraqi journalists on the difficulty of dispassionate reporting

Writing on the Dart Center for Journalism site, Tanya Paperny discusses the experiences of Iraqi journalists who visited the US last month to share their thoughts on reporting in areas of conflict.

The discussion brought up the common moral dilemma for journalists – how should you act when a person’s life is in danger in front of you? The journalists said the impact of this decision can have serious consequences for their own safety.

Another participant, who explained that he frequently has to cover bombings and suicide, talked about the kinds of scenarios in which a bystander would attack a journalist. It’s a dilemma many journalists face when they are the first to arrive at the scene of a traumatic incident: Should one take pictures and take notes for a story or help the victims? Should one wait for a health worker to do the first aid? Some participants argued that by putting down their cameras and notebooks, even if to help an injured individual, they are failing to fulfill their role as dispassionate witnesses. But there is no easy answer; each situation is different. And if the reporter chooses to take pictures and conduct interviews, that is the kind of situation that the Iraqi journalists explained could lead to harrassment by onlookers.

See the full post here…

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Women at war: Profiling the female foreign correspondents in Iraq

July 7th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick

Despite the legions of women that have covered conflicts, whenever a female war correspondent is profiled the phrase ‘one of the few women to have made their name as a conflict reporter’ constantly creeps in. It creates a false impression that we are the few. Editors these days are as likely to send a woman correspondent into combat as a man.

A fascinating article looking at the network of female foreign correspondents reporting from Iraq, in particular Hannah Allam, a veteran reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, who is five months pregnant.

Full story on NPR at this link…

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Wired: Army intelligence analyst arrested over leaked video of Iraq helicopter attack

June 8th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick

A US Army intelligence analyst has been arrested in connection with a leaked video of a US Apache helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007, which killed more than 12 people, including two Reuters news staff, reports Wired.

According to Wired, Bradley Manning, was arrested nearly two weeks ago at an army base in Baghdad where he was stationed. Manning was reportedly turned in by a former computer hacker to whom he had spoken about leaking the Iraq video and several others to the website Wikileaks.

The attack took place on the morning of 12 July 2007 in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad killing two Saeed Chmagh, a 40-year-old Reuters driver and assistant, and Namir Noor-Eldeen, a 22-year-old war photographer.

Reuters, which had previously requested the release of the video from the US military, has pressed the army to conduct a full and objective investigation into the killing of its two staff.

Full story at this link…

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YouTube and Al Jazeera English create video archive of Iraq elections

March 9th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Citizen journalism, Multimedia

Al Jazeera English’s latest project in partnership with YouTube’s CitizenTube channel really is a great showcase for the power of video as a medium and how aggregated, short-form video can be a valuable addition to coverage of a news event.

AJE and CitizenTube have been collecting videos from Iraqi citizens before, during and after Sunday’s nationwide parliamentary election in the country:

Each of these videos features the perspective of a regular Iraqi, whose viewpoints and experiences are rarely shared in the news reports coming out of the country. Through video, we can listen to their voices, see their faces, and gain a better understanding of what it was like inside Iraq on this important day.

The videos are featured on CitizenTube’s YouTube channel and as part of Al Jazeera English’s interactive site on the Iraq elections under the header ‘Iraqi voices’. Some will also be featured on AJE’s TV broadcasts.

While internet in the home is by no means ubiquitous in Iraq, as this OpenNet Initiative report on the country suggests, many Iraqis took to uploading YouTube videos during the last conflict. The Iraqi government also launched its own channel on the site last year.

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Iraq Inquiry: BBC training of Iraqi journalists was necessary for fledgling democracy

February 3rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Press freedom and ethics

At yesterday’s hearing of the Iraq Inquiry, current Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Hilary Benn, who previously served as International Development Secretary and as a minister in the Home Office, described how the BBC World Service Trust had been involved in training journalists in Iraq after the fall of Saddam:

(…) [T]he work we did with the BBC World Service Trust training journalists, because that was a whole new world for them, trying to report on what was happening, so people have information to enable the fledgling Iraqi democracy to function.

The training of journalists on the ground and basing that training within Iraq was as important a part of building a democracy as training judges or building new physical infrastructure, suggested Benn.

I suppose some of the training [could have been done outside of Iraq], but the purpose of it was for them to go out – this was Al Mirbad – to go and report, and for people in Iraq to see what was going on, and that involves going out as a reporter and asking questions and producing programmes and broadcasting them, and you have to do that in Iraq.

More on the BBC World Service Trust’s work in Iraq can be found at this link.

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