الاعلام الالكتروني: هل ستفسح الميديا الإلكترونية وصحافة المواطن المجال امام اعلام مستقل ومحايد في المستقل

Aug 11, 2018

 

11 Aug 2018

third session

The session opened by the four guests' introduction about the media institutions that they work for.
- The interviewer (Hossam Al-Saray) began the meeting by asking (Dia Al-Bazzuni), who works for Al Mirbad Foundation, a question about their observation of what Al-Basrah bloggers write and turn to a media material, and the extent of the independency of Al Mirbad.
Dia Al-Bazzuni answered: "The social media have become influential in shaping the public opinion, and through it, blogs that were written by Basra bloggers were observed. Al Mirbad has been able to change several decisions through social media, for example, a decision to stop the drainage of agricultural lands. The government's response to the demands of citizens on social media platforms attributes that when news is shared on social media, the government is enforced to respond and annul the decision”.
Al-Bazzuni assured that: "All these facts show that the media foundation can be independent and influential at the same time".
- The interviewer (Hossam Al Saray) asked another question about whether there were inconveniences faced by (Al Mirbad Foundation) or not.
"there are many inconveniences that face the journalistic work" he answered, indicating that: "those inconveniences are not legal, but they could be legal accountabilities, or they might be lawsuits filed by politicians, in addition to the existence of political parties in the south, and some of the armed factions", assuring that: "there is a necessity to accept living in a variable society, however, there are tribes and some of them refuse to publish tribal things, which pushes us to visual conveyance that affects or serves other people. Those inconveniences have affected the freedom of independent media.
-the conversation moved to (Muntadher Nasser – the chief editor of Al-Alam Al-Jadeed Newspaper). The interviewer (Hossam Al Saray) asked his question about did media industry become influenced by social media websites, did the newspaper dedicated its activities to be on social media, and do people know that (Al-Alam Al-Jadeed Newspaper) was launched from (Facebook)?
- Muntadher Nasser talks about the importance of social media as a window for marketing media productions recently, citing: "the decline of the interests in printed newspapers, besides the difficulty of marketing and selling them on the worldwide newspapers level, as they tuned from printed copies to electronic ones.
He pointed out that: "e-newspapers is less expensive, hence, helps to get rid of the burden of paper printing, especially with the broadly spread smartphones that helped in making the e-newspapers more forthcoming for the audience."
- Hossam al-Saray asked another question if the newspaper is independent from
sectarian parties, and how to confirm the existence of independency?
- Muntadher Nasser confirms: "The most important question is, are there independent media? Frankly, Al-Alam Al-Jadeed is completely independent of any political party, government opinion or company owns capitals".
"There is a difference between neutrality and independencey. We can achieve independency through our ability to uncover what is hidden and delink truth from imagination that politicians try to market through appearing on media and releasing promises, but that’s untrue. Moreover, the political division has its influence on media, which prevents it from highlighting failures".
He added: "The political finance which comes from corruption, contributes in killing independent press. Today, we are facing major security, political and judicial challenges, as well as the financial aspect. The prosperity factors in the West is the private sector, while in Iraq, we do not have such major companies to finance the independent press through ads."
The journalist concluded: "today, I'm honored to sit between two independent media institutions (Awene and Mirbad)."
- The conversation moved to (Kurdistan Abdul Karim- Awene). The interviewer (Hossam al-Saray) asked her: to any extent was the newspaper (Awene) connected with the audience of protesters and close to convey the protesters' demands, especially in the governorate of Sulaymaniyah, where the protests escalated?
(Kurdistan) answered: "we are citizens, before being journalists; we were participating in the protests and then going to our work in the newspaper.
She revealed that: "The economic crisis prompted people to protest does not affect us as citizens only, but affects us as journalists, as the printed newspapers declined because of the economic crises in Iraq, and Kurdistan particularly, which has a major impact on our institution; the number of copies we issue declined from (250 thousand) to (one thousand) printed copy because of the economic crisis".
She confirmed that the newspaper works independently or semi-independently, and uses its website to convey the news to the audience. Nevertheless, it faced a lot of difficulties, as its website faced hackers' attacks because of its media activities".
She clarified that: "Journalists in (Awene) faced a lot of inconveniences when they were trying to enter the demonstrations; security forces stripped them of their cameras and other press equipment ".
About the political interventions, Kurdistan said "one time, I had a recording with the telecommunications company, which is considered the new financial source of the newspaper. At night, a political person called us and said that we must not publish the news, otherwise the financial source will be sealed, but we did not care about the threat and published it. It actually happened that the chairman of the communications company called, saying that the advertisements should not be distributed and he would not be able to provide anything, then, the (printed version) of the newspaper was stopped on 1 \ 1 \ 2016."
About keep working despite the difficult financial situations, Kurdistan said "it was hard to keep working, but we preserved the work of the e-newspaper through our website. Furthermore, we established the project of (Awene co-workers) that was consisted of cultured elite that we told them about the necessity to help us to continue our work. Actually, we raised donations and published the names of the donors on the new websites".
-The interviewer (Hossam al-Saray) asked: in Iraq and Kurdistan, there is a partisan power; did the power of the various parties in Kurdistan affect the newspaper?
-Kurdistan said that "Awene newspaper publishes a lot of corruption files, so we face a lot of pressure, especially for the members of the company and the chairman of Awene institution. In 2009, after he took his certificate, he was assaulted and taken to hospital. (International Spot), an American Organization, wrote in its report that was issued in 2016 that Awene Newspaper ranked first in visual declaration of publishing the largest number of corruption cases".
-the conversation moved to (Ahmed Hassan- of Amarji Center). The interviewer (Hossam al-Saray) asked him about his personal imagination about the future of citizen journalism in Iraq.
(Ahmed Hassa) started his speech, saying "there is a difference between what is called (participatory journalism), (alternative press) and (citizen journalism), there are almost 10 terms related to that, and on my part, I prefer the term (participatory press).
He declared: "there is participation between (Amarji Center) and The Observers in France that works on citizen journalism. There was an agreement with them to transfer the experience of citizen journalism in Iraq, besides the difference between blogging what is published on Facebook and what is published on press".
He cited: "that interference was a negative one, as there are news that are published without being authenticated".
He added: "a while ago, a picture of a person teaching students to wash the dead spread on all social media. After the press made sure of what happened, which took 3 or 4 days, they found out that the news was a lie, and it goes back to 2004 for one of the districts in Diwaniyah Governorate".
(Ahmed Hassan) clarified that: "Amarji Center shows a permanent interest of journalists and provides them with a number of trainings that enables them to turn what is published on social media to a press material, through which they can know the difference between free blogging and the right content that exists in media that depends on news rules and reports writing. We are trying to combine the blogging pattern with the press pattern. There is a problem of the difficulty to implement that with a veteran journalist who has a long history in the traditional press, while we attract the new young journalists that graduated from Media College- University of Baghdad particularly, and other universities. From our part, we approached several channels (like Al Sharqiya and Alsumaria) to create a department specialized in (citizen journalism), because Iraq suffers from a problem of readers' loss of confidence that formed a gap between the readers and press, while noting that some journalists do not have the professional ethics, which is a major problem".
(Ahmed Hassan) said that: "there are several examples on the negatives of the local citizen journalism in Iraq like the news (Baghdad municipality is developing the base of Abu Nuwas street) which turned to a Takfiri material, adding that "those who are responsible for the state media lacked for experience, so the news spread without making sure that the statue of (Abu Nuwas Street) was still there, and the news is a rumor only".
-The conversation moved to the questions of the attendees:
- (Hamza Habeeb Alward) said: "I want to ask you, fellows, a question; how can we recognize the correct news on social media in the light of the undisciplined media? Is there any law that governs it?
- (Muntadher Al-Nasser- Al-Alam Al-Jadeed Newspaper) answered: "we, as journalist, can definitely distinguish between the correct news and the fake news through checking the picture or video with the responsible, concerned bodies. Simply, we authenticate or discredit that picture or video. For people, they can themselves be careful when following such pages, and not publish or share the news, only after getting assured of their authenticity, because many of the fake-page owners and
bloggers that are undisciplined share pictures or videos, and of course the unaware receivers will share them.
-another question was asked by (Yarub), is press independent?
(Muntadher Al-Nasser- Al Mirbad) answered: the writing and the content of the report is kind of independent at some level, and it can be dependent at a specific time. They might face major challenges. The receivers have awareness, logic and the ability to analyze correctly now more than the previous years.
-a question from (Wasan who worked in International Federation Agency); about the mechanism of avoiding the fake news, for example, this video is fake, how can people recognize it?
(Muntadher Al-Nasser- Al Mirbad) answered: "it is difficult. Let's be real, at the beginning, we fell into mistakes. When a journalist wants to publish specific news, he wants to take the lead, but the news have to be accurate and analyzed before publishing it, so the subject has to be analyzed correctly before being published.
(Wasan) asked: did the internet interruption affect the journalists? And did anything other than citizen journalism benefit the bloggers and activists?
(Muntadher Al-Nasser- Al Mirbad) answered: "what you have said is sorrowful. In our constitution, there is a stipulation that prevents the government from interrupting the internet or any other service. The internet is an important instrument and is irreplaceable or indispensible".
A question from Dr. (Hisham Al-Hashimi); can organizations establish connected networks that seeks to stop the flow of fake news on social media?
(Ahmed Hassan- Amarji Center) answered: "currently, we are trying to reach the responsible one who promoted the news. We have checkers and analyzers who analyze the news from its original source and date and if there is harm caused by it and whether it is fake or not.
He added: "the problem is that sometimes the blogger may share contents according to their conviction. Hence, the receivers confer the information. Some of the famous pages adopt such blogs. From our part, we have to analyze the information. With all respect for the famous bloggers, the reason for the spreading of such news is that there are intruders in the press occupation who started involving themselves in the press works, as their pages reach a larger proportion of people. Thus, the news spread widely".
He expressed that: "then, the problem lies in competing media to share news, besides that the awareness of the receivers is increasing little by little, and the generations started to be aware that there are fake video and pictures".
-a suggestion from the guest (Hamza Mubarak) from Diwaniyah: "we are seeking to fight fake news and I suggest that we work with the journalists as a team to fight rumors and fake news. I, as an Iraqi, am sorry for hearing news like Al Aqeedah School is getting demolished, and of course, as a citizen, I cannot investigate the news, and I would be affected sentimentally.