'Many of my colleagues have been killed'

Iraqi journalist Salaam Jihad, 33, told Press Gazette of the every-day dangers facing journalists like himself – explaining that many of his colleagues have been abducted and killed in the past three years.

“It is extremely difficult and time consuming for me to move around the capital Baghdad – most of the main streets are closed for security reasons and the streets that are open are filled with checkpoints.

“I spend about two hours moving from my home to downtown. In addition, there is a curfew from 8:30pm and I must be off the street by then.

“It is hard to contact people to help if there is a problem or to set up an interview, as the communication system is very poor.

“Obtaining security information is also dangerous, as there is no transparent method of distributing the news to the media, despite the new democratic experiment in which we live.

“Nepotism also affects our work.

Some of the news agencies and television channels always get the information from the government and local organisations before the rest of the journalists.

“For example, when I visited one local organisation, someone there told me that only Hurra Channel and Iraqia TV – financed by the American and Iraqi governments – got the information for the story.

“There also can be problems with employers: some interfere with stories because their financiers pressure them.

“In addition to my work in the street collecting information from ordinary people, for security reasons I now do most of my interviews by phone – especially the interviews with officials.

“I like my work as a journalist, I have a good salary now, but that’s not the reason I keep working – some colleagues and myself started a weekly newspaper, which we were doing it without any income.

“Despite of the dangers Iraqi journalists face, more young people are interesting to work in the field. But these journalists need more training and more experience. The Iraqi newspapers that started directly after the war are not like the newspapers of today, now the people trust them more. More than 120 newspapers were started after the war, and now it’s down to only 20 newspapers, but the quality is much better.”

Jihad has been a journalist since 2003, and has worked as a journalist, fixer and translator for media organisations including The Guardian, USA Today and the Financial Times

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