Web fills Iraq info gap

By Caitlin Pike

Iraqi media can now pool their news coverage following the launch of
a web project set up by the Reuters Foundation charity and the United
Nations Development Programme.

Newspapers, magazines and broadcast media can submit news items to
an Internet site, www.aswataliraq.info, (‘Voices of Iraq’) and publish
or broadcast news items submitted by other contributors.

The Voices of Iraq site also carries reports from a network of individual Iraqi journalists and from the Reuters Arabic Service.

The aim of the site is to fill the information gap left by the absence of a national news agency.

Jo
Weir of the Reuters Foundation said: “The need to improve the range and
quality of domestic news available to Iraqi media is urgent. Since the
fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, new uncensored media have emerged, but
they have struggled to report events in a country of 26 million people
where insecurity makes it risky to move around and inadequate
telephones hamper communication.”

The website is edited from
Cairo and contributions from Iraqi media are coordinated by a local
journalist in Baghdad. The scheme is being directed by Paul Eedle, a
former senior editor of Reuters who has reported extensively from Iraq.
A group of 11 Iraqi media editors is involved in planning to develop
the current project into a fullscale national news agency.

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