Iraqi reporters discuss their profession, perspective

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By Ryan Lecheminant

A group of Iraqi journalists offered a unique perspective on their profession in a BYU panel discussion Friday.

In a packed-house visit with Department of Communications students and faculty, the journalists addressed the difference between reporting in the U.S. and Iraq.

Wisam Fadhil, professor of journalism and deputy dean of Media Studies at Baghdad University, said each journalist present from Iraq has received death threats.

“We will not give up because we love this profession,” Fadhil said. “[Students at BYU] may stress about things, but in Iraq we worry about our lives.”

Fadhil said Iraq has roughly 85 TV stations and 45 radio stations.

Hamzah Hussein Shallal, senior reporter at Al-Iraqiya TV, said the closer you can be to the events you are covering, the more credible you will be in your reporting. Shallal has received numerous awards for his news coverage during various wars in Iraq. He advised students to set their emotions and feelings aside when reporting and try and be as professional as possible at all times.

Naza Mohammed Abdullah, senior reporter at Al-Sumariya TV, was the only woman journalist in attendance with the group. She said she is excited to work in the real world but said it is markedly different from college.

“What you say and write has a profound and very important impact on people,” Abdullah said. “It is a position of responsibility. Lives of others can be put in danger if you are not careful.”

In response to questions, the journalists encouraged students to gain as much experience as possible. They said simply going to school will not make you a journalist. The journalists also said the security issue in Iran is their biggest obstacle in reporting, but they hope to help create a more stable and secure environment over the next few years.

Brad Rawlins, Communications Department chair, said the journalists told him after the panel discussion this would be one of their most memorable experiences of the trip.

“The panel discussion between the Iraqi journalists and communications students provided a lively interaction between cultures and ideas,” Rawlins said. “What they had in common, a love of journalism and free speech, provided a bridge that allowed understanding and empathy to be shared. I believe we learned that there is more we have in common than we have differences.”

 

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