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But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic "temporary spokespersons" who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition, according to a contract document and a military official. In addition, the document called for the development of "alternate or diverting messages which divert media and public attention" to "deal instantly with the bad news of the day.

Laurie Adler, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Group, said the terms of the contract did not permit her to discuss it and referred a reporter to the Pentagon. But others defended the practice. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs. Two dozen recent storyboards prepared by the military for Lincoln and reviewed by The New York Times had a variety of good-news themes addressing the economy, security, the insurgency and Iraq's political future.

Iraq’s Press: A Status Report | Council on Foreign Relations

Some were written to resemble news articles. Others took the form of opinion pieces or public service announcements. One article about Iraq's oil industry opened with three paragraphs taken verbatim, and without attribution, from a recent report in Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper.


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But the military version took out a quotation from an oil ministry spokesman that was critical of American reconstruction efforts. It substituted a more positive message, also attributed to the spokesman, though not as a direct quotation. The editor of Al Sabah, a major Iraqi newspaper that has been the target of many of the military's articles, said Wednesday in an interview that he had no idea that the American military was supplying such material and did not know if his newspaper had printed any of it, whether labeled as advertising or not.

The editor, Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, 57, said Al Sabah, which he said received financial support from the Iraqi government but was editorially independent, accepted advertisements from virtually any source if they were not inflammatory.

He said any such material would be labeled as advertising but would not necessarily identify the sponsor. Sometimes, he said, the paper got the text from an advertising agency and did not know its origins. Asked what he thought of the Pentagon program's effectiveness in influencing Iraqi public opinion, Mr.

Jabbar said, "I would spend the money a better way. The Lincoln Group, which was incorporated in , has won another government information contract. Last June, the Special Operations Command in Tampa awarded Lincoln and two other companies a multimillion-dollar contract to support psychological operations. The planned products, contract documents show, include three- to five- minute news programs.

Asked whether the information and news products would identify the American sponsorship, a media relations officer with the special operations command replied, in an e-mail message last summer, that "the product may or may not carry 'made in the U. Please upgrade your browser. A judge dismissed the defamation charges in August. In areas under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG in northern Iraq, the Kurdistan Press Law protects journalists' right to obtain "information of importance to citizens and with relevance to the public interest.

The press law abolishes imprisonment as a penalty for defamation, but journalists can face high fines. Moreover, public officials have often brought libel and insult cases against journalists using the Iraqi penal code, undermining the protections provided in the Kurdistan Press Law. Iraq lacks national legislation guaranteeing access to government information, and journalists struggle to obtain official documents in practice.

The KRG passed legislation guaranteeing access to information in , but critics note that the law contains vague language and vast exceptions, and is rarely used by journalists because of poor or biased implementation. The government-controlled CMC is the primary body responsible for regulating broadcast media.

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After the government declared a state of emergency amid the IS offensive in , the CMC issued "mandatory" guidelines for media "during the war on terror" — a series of vague stipulations that placed arbitrary restrictions on coverage. One provision required the media to "hold on to the patriotic sense" and to "be careful when broadcasting material that. Media in Iraqi Kurdistan received similar guidelines. The CMC is highly politicized and often retaliates against critical media outlets.

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Rules of Professional Ethics

In March , it withdrew the television broadcast license for Al-Baghdadiya and ordered police to shutter its 16 offices around the country. No reason was given for the move, but Al-Baghdadiya, which broadcasts via satellite from Egypt, is a pro-Sunni outlet that is critical of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, and had supported the anticorruption protest movement that swept Iraq the previous year. Moreover, the closure occurred two days before additional demonstrations in Baghdad were set to take place, again focused on official corruption and failure to deliver public services.

In April, the CMC suspended the broadcast license of Qatar-based television network Al-Jazeera for one year , accusing it of violating the guidelines governing reporting on the war against IS, and of inciting violence and sectarianism. Although a number of journalists' organizations and media freedom advocacy groups operate in Iraq, their ability to secure concessions and reforms from the government is limited.


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Media workers and other observers have noted the lack of effective self-regulatory mechanisms and ethical standards in the sector. The Iraqi news media are diverse and collectively present a range of views, but most outlets are owned by or affiliated with political parties and ethnic factions, often leading to sharply partisan coverage. Outlets also face various forms of pressure from the authorities, and reporters are regularly denied access to sensitive events and officials.

Fear of reprisals — from fatal violence to criminal defamation suits — makes self-censorship among journalists common. In October , the government's Iraqi Media Network entered into an arrangement with a group of private media outlets to produce and air a joint nightly news program and coordinate their communications strategies with the aim of fostering public support for the military campaign against IS.

Media Under Fire: Reporting Conflict in Iraq

Participating outlets are provided with technical and material support by the state. The deal prevents channels in the coalition from disseminating news that runs counter to the official narrative, and excludes channels that have been critical of the government. The conflict with IS has restricted journalists' ability to access the affected areas and led to large-scale shutdowns of media and internet services.

Shortly after the militant group gained control of Mosul in June , the prime minister's office ordered the Ministry of Communications to shut down internet service in IS-occupied provinces, ostensibly to prevent the group from using social media to plan attacks and release propaganda. Springer Professional. Back to the search result list.

Table of Contents Frontmatter Introduction Abstract. Every Iraqi driver knew it was forbidden to approach this road.

Media Practice in Iraq - eBook

The kind of security checks that everyone had to undergo to enter the main building were thorough. It looked like a place for the privileged, though its employees got very low salaries that could not sustain them for a whole month, mainly due to the economic sanctions. It was believed that it contained different torture tools to be used against anyone who, intentionally or not, made a mistake. In this section, a brief overview of the Iraqi media is presented in order to give the reader an idea of the major landmarks in the history of the different media channels in Iraq.

The discussion below is mostly focused on the Iraqi press that was the dominant medium in the 19th and early 20th centuries.