The International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) recently launched an effort to train Iraqi journalists on journalistic standards and ethics. Journalists will learn how to monitor government activities and write critical articles in order to spur public debates and inform readers. The journalists will also form a national governance reporting network that can provide regular and accurate monitoring on the governments performance.
The first week-long training featured a correspondent with the German magazine Stern and IRI’s Resident Program Officer Djordje Todorovic, who was a reporter in Serbia during Slobodan Milosevic time.
Journalists were trained on the right to freedom of information, how to protect sources of information, report independently and use conflicting sides of a story to achieve balance. In addition, participants discussed Iraq’s lack of a nation-wide newspaper or magazine and how that affects their ability to inform the public.
The concept of a nationwide association of journalists, organized around a mutual code of ethics, was well received by participants who recognized that, in addition to promoting professional integrity, such an organization could assist individual journalists targeted by insurgents and militias as a result of their work. Journalists also discussed how to form working relationships with government and party spokespeople without allowing the relationship to corrupt the work of the reporters.
Drawing upon his experiences in the former Yugoslavia, Todorovic shared techniques of investigative reporting in post war countries and transitioning societies. Serbia’s then state-controlled media was Milosevic’s primary instrument for propaganda; reporters of the independent media were often attacked, arrested, prosecuted and murdered. His first-hand lessons outlined the important role free and independent media played in supporting democratic forces and objectively informing the citizens of Serbia.
One journalist who attended the training noted, “Your experiences in Serbia are insightful. We have learned much of what is important to us as journalists, and on building a professional association that can help us support each other in solidarity.”Top