The general discourse amongst media practioners today seems to be to peg bloggers and traditional media as competitors. But in countries like Iraq where freedom of speech is restricted, linking bloggers with traditional media could be a win-win situation for both parties
|Iraqi Kurdish independent newspaper Awene|
IMS - 15.03.2012
By Helle Wahlberg
As the first newspaper in Iraqi Kurdistan, the independent newspaper Awene will be offering bloggers a space for their blogs on their new website. The decision comes at a time where the newspaper’s hardcopy version struggles to survive in a meager print media market. Circulation figures are plummeting and losing out to the internet. Even in a region such as Iraqi Kurdistan where internet penetration is very low, the online media market is growing daily.
- Our aim is to strengthen our online presence with a new website which includes amongst many other elements, a space to print blogs called “Your Eye”, explains Dana Assad, online editor in chief of Awene.
- This new service is a way in which to provide our readers with reports from regions where we cannot or do not go. Bloggers will be able to submit their blogs and as editors we will choose which to publish. We provide the bloggers with anonymity if they require this. We will be the first media in Iraqi Kurdistan to pioneer this type of collaboration with bloggers, says Dana Assad.
Bloggers a fresh voice in independent media
In a country where movement is restricted due to security and where conservative forces prevent media from pursuing certain issues, the use of citizen bloggers in traditional media can introduce fresh voices and topics into the national and local discourse. Bloggers can help lead their communities of interested followers to the traditional media that chooses to use the work of bloggers to compliment their journalistic work.
Training workshops for bloggers
While Awene will also be using bloggers to beef up their content, training bloggers to write journalistically using the necessary ethics required when being published in traditional media, is also to be a source of income for the newspaper in future. One of the major challenges of independent media in Iraqi Kurdistan is their lack of a long-term, sustainable business plan which helps to keep media afloat financially.
- With the support of International Media Support, we plan to offer workshops for bloggers interested in improving their writing skills, writing ethically and learning how to cite sources correctly,” says Dana Assad, as he shows off the new workshop facilities under construction in the modest offices of Awene in central Sulimanyah.
The workshops are expected to begin in spring 2012. Watch this space for a launch of the Awene website with its blogspace.