Iraqi media outlet visits Columbia

By Heather Scroering

Five Iraqi journalists from a news outlet in the newly democratized nation visited Columbia’s Journalism Department on July 12.

In the United States for a 16-day leadership program funded by the U.S. State Department, the members of the Iraqi Media Network came here to understand the inner workings of Columbia’s journalism program.

“We are striving in Iraq to build new media outlets and have effective rule in new media outlets,” said Jasim Hashim, a member of the board of trustees of the Iraqi Media Network and dean of the media college at the University of Baghdad. “We’re very interested in knowing Columbia’s curriculum.”

The Iraqi Media Network is a U.S. funded news outlet with TV stations and radio stations as well as newspapers, such as Kuwait’s Al-Sabah, across the globe. According to Alyasiri Abbas, vice chairman of the organization’s board of trustees, the Iraqi Media Network has a satellite station in Washington D.C. and in other global capitals, such as London, Paris and Beirut.

Visiting Columbia was just one of the group’s stops. Prior to their visit to the city, Abbas said they spent time in Washington meeting with representatives of Voice of America and will continue on to New York to participate in conferences on U.S. media law and public broadcasting.

According to Abbas, the group has had conversations with political officials about the relationship between Iraq and America with regard to media and the want to show Americans the values of the “new” Iraq.

“We came here carrying our values of civilization and peace,” he said. “We convey to the American partnership through pictures of the new Iraq, democracy in Iraq and freedom of religion in Iraq and now we have new values in social media.”

Another goal of the visitors is to observe American culture to familiarize themselves with their partnering country, according to Abbas. He added that they have been visiting with American families in their homes and met Jackie Spinner, assistant professor in the Journalism Department, that evening.

“We have come here to get familiar with media outlets, but [also] to experience coexistence of American diversity,” Abbas said. “Because we have a strategic partnership with the United States, we want to know everything about each other.”