The Iraqi Media After ISIS?
In early July 2014, our Media Academy Iraq hosted a roundtable discussion in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, for leading members of the Iraqi media. The event brought together producers, managers and editors-in-chief from some of the country’s largest and leading news organisations.

The Media Academy Iraq has long assisted the evolution of a democratic and balanced press scene in Iraq. But after Sunni Muslim extremists from the Islamic State group took control of territory in northern Iraq in early June, the situation for Iraqi and Kurdish journalists changed radically. And the aim of the roundtable was to bring together the most important local media producers to discuss new challenges they faced as well as to assess how the Media Academy could assist with potential solutions.

Participants included the likes of Mushreq Abbas, Iraq Bureau Chief for Al Hayat, Rahman Gharib, Director of the Metro Centre to Defend Journalists based in Iraqi Kurdistan, Sarmad al-Tai of Al Mada and Niyaz Abdullah, producer at Radio Nawa in Erbil.

“I think we are facing a new reality in Iraq and this has not been understood by the international community,” the General Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany, Alfred Simms-Protz, told the around 30 participants as he opened the roundtable. “This is why you, the media representatives, have an important and essential role to play. Firstly because we need information, especially from inside the Caliphate, we need to know what is actually going on there. The world needs to know that. And we also want the world to understand that Kurdistan needs the world’s support.”

“In the end I cannot see how the [Sunni Muslim extremist group] the Islamic State can permanently establish a state inside Iraq,” Mr Simms-Protz said. “But I also know there will be a difficult few months ahead.”

The discussion at the meeting was wide ranging, going from the ethics of dealing with the Islamic State to how to verify information about military and refugee situations coming to journalists via social media to how best to improve the Iraqi Kurdish military’s media liaison. The meeting was considered so successful and relevant by the participants that they actually stayed beyond the scheduled end to continue the discussion, and despite looming deadlines. Measures that were discussed during the roundtable are being developed and implemented where and when possible over the next few months, to reflect the ever-changing situation inside Iraq.