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Opinion Editorials, June 2008

 

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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

 
Ma'an and Voices of Iraq: Dilemma of Funding and Claims of Independence of News Agencies

By Hassan El-
Najjar

Editor of ccun.org
June 30, 2008

Journalists everywhere have faced the dilemma between funding and independence. Many media units are mouthpieces for their donors, whether these are governments or organizations. Even advertisers exercise leverage by choosing one media unit over the other. They usually choose the one that conforms to their interests or the interests of their customers.

Palestinian and Iraqi journalists and media are no exception. They suffer from absence of direct funding from readers, like subscriptions or donations, and from advertisers due to the troubled Iraqi and Palestinian economies as a result of the occupation.

Thus, many Palestinian and Iraqi news agencies claim independence, which could be true if they claim independence from the Iraqi or Palestinian government. However, with little scrutiny of their funding sources, the claim of independence does not stand, like in the case of Ma'an and Voices of Iraq.

                                                                              ***

There is no independence or freedom of without a real financial independence of any media unit.

Donors will always have leverage on any news agency or media unit they donate to. Even if they do not require certain conditions to be met, a recipient agency may exercise self-censorship in order to conform to the expectations of donors. One example is how a news agency uses conflict terminology.

Ma'an, for example, never refers to the Israeli occupation forces as such. Instead, these are mentioned as only Israeli forces or Israeli military. When Israeli occupation soldiers kidnap Palestinians from their homes, Ma'an refers to this as seizing or arresting them, as if Israeli occupation soldiers are policemen enforcing the law, which is not the case.

Israeli occupation forces are not policemen arresting their own law-breaking citizens. Rather, they are invading forces, which are occupying the Palestinian territories since 1967 against the will of the Palestinian population and in violation of the international law. They have no right to be there in the first place. Further, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not Israeli citizens. Therefore, the Israeli invaders have no jurisdiction over them. It follows that whenever they take Palestinians from their homes to the Israeli detention or interrogation centers and occupation prisons, the act is not arresting or seizing these Palestinians. Rather, it is kidnapping or abduction of innocent people.

An independent news agency will say just that. Ma'an, however, does not do that in order to keep the foreign funding going. Just few months ago, it was blackmailed by Israelis about the use of the term martyrs in reference to the Palestinian victims who are killed by the Israeli occupation forces. They threatened Ma'an of inciting donors against them if they continue using such a term. Ma'an has been in self-censorship about it ever since.

Readers and freedom-loving people around the world should donate to Ma'an and other Palestinian news agencies to free them from the pro-Israel NATO donors.  

                                                                       ***

The same can be said about the Voices of Iraq news agency, which was established with help from the British news agency, Reuters, and which does not have any apparent sources of funding such as advertising, The claim that it is an independent news agency, not affiliated with any governments or entities, cannot stand scrutiny.

Like the case of Ma'an, Voices of Iraq follows conflict terminology, which is pro-government and anti forces which oppose US and US-led Iraqi forces. Further, it uses long quotations of the US forces spokespersons and US-led Iraqi forces spokespersons. However, it never does the same towards the spokespersons of the Iraqi organizations resisting US forces and the US-backed Iraqi government forces.

                                                                      ***

It is important to inform ccun.org readers of the backgrounds of these two sources of news in Palestine and Iraq used by ccun.org daily.

This is of course should not tarnish the great efforts of Palestinian and Iraqi journalists working in these two agencies. But readers deserve to know the truth about some of the sources of news used by the publication they read.

The other two Palestinians sources of news used by this publication, imemc and pic, are not funded by any governments. Therefore, they deserve donations from readers. The same applies to the other Iraqi news sources used by ccun.org daily: yaqen.net, amsi.org, ina, and albasrah.net.

With absence of advertising due to the troubled economies in Iraq and Palestine, journalists need support in order to continue providing the public with the news it deserves to know.

Here's a list of these agencies for readers and donors wishing to support them:

Palestinian news agencies:

http://www.maannews.net/en/

http://www.imemc.org/

http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx

Iraqi news agencies:

http://www.aswataliraq.info/

http://www.yaqen.net/

http://www.iraq-ina.com/

http://www.iraq-amsi.org/news.php?action=list&cat_id=81

Ma'an signs contract with Dutch and Danish governments, Voices of Iraq assisted by Reuters

Date: 30 / 06 / 2008  Time:  20:49
Bethlehem Ma'an

Ma'an signed a contract on Monday with representatives from the Dutch and Danish governments who have agreed to provide a further 465,000 US dollars in funding for the news agency.

Chairman of Ma'an's board of directors Salim Swidan signed the contract at Ma'an's main office in Bethlehem with Danish Representative to the Palestinian Authority Rolf Holmboe and Hans Teunissen, Deputy Head of Mission for the Dutch Representative's office to the PA. The Dutch government has agreed to donate 300,000 US dollars and the Danish government have pledged 165,000 US dollars.

Rolf Holmboe said the Danish government had extended their funding to Ma'an as "it is important to have freedom of expression and to have a broader independent media in Palestine."

He said he hoped the funding would enable Ma'an to continue with their "professional and objective reporting" and "become a beacon of high standards for other news organizations."

Hans Teunissen said, "We consider freedom of the press as one of the pillars of any democratic state."

"It is important that there is an independent news agency in Palestine, free of political ties that provides news as they see fit," he added.

Ma'an News Agency was opened in 2005 with the generous support of the Dutch and Danish governments.

Salim Swidan said, the funding "means they trust our work. Ma'an is a success story in the world of Palestinian media. Three years ago when we started most people didn't believe we were starting a real independent news agency. Now we are the only independent news agency in Palestine."





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