Cablegate: Rrt Erbil: Iip Speaker Trains Broadcast
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R 011222Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
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INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001004
DEPARTMENT FOR ECA
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TAGS: OIIP OEXC SCUL OPRC KPAO IZ
SUBJECT: RRT ERBIL: IIP SPEAKER TRAINS BROADCAST
JOURNALISTS IN THE KURDISTAN REGION
This is an Erbil Regional Reconstruction Team message.
1. (U) RRT Erbil hosted IIP Specialist Professor Robert
Hooper of the University of California - San Diego, who
conducted a two-week training workshop from March 3 through
March 13 for eighteen local television journalists. The
program improved the technical skills of Iraqi journalists
and strengthened USG contacts with local media.
2. (U) Television is the primary source of information for
residents of the Kurdistan Region, as it is for residents of
the rest of Iraq. Although most media organs in the
Kurdistan Region are controlled by the major political
parties, the recent protests by journalists regarding the
Media Law passed by the Kurdistan National Assembly in
December 2007 and the subsequent decision by the KRG
President to return the law to the KNA for amendment indicate
a growing independent role for media within civil society.
Journalists have identified training as one of their most
important needs; international NGOs, such as IREX, have also
indicated a need for training of journalists. Journalists
(reporters, editors, and camera operators) from Zagros TV
(KDP), Kurdsat (PUK), Galle Kurdistan (PUK), Yegirtu TV
(KIU), and Nowruz TV (KRG) participated in the training
program which was conducted at a local hotel.
3. (U) Professor Hooper is an experienced television
producer and documentary maker who has extensive
international experience training broadcast journalists and
developing curricula in several countries. In his workshop
in Erbil, Hooper focused on basic techniques of interviewing
and reporting, writing and story narrative, lighting, camera
framing, and presentation. Hooper brought several video
clips to demonstrate concepts and had sent worksheet handouts
in advance for translation, but the class most appreciated
the hands on exercises. Although security considerations
precluded leaving hotel premises, workshop participants
utilized various locations on the hotel grounds for their
exercises. At the end of the workshop, Hooper could identify
specific areas of improvement in technical skills.
4. (U) Participants exhibited great determination to attend
the workshop. Journalists from Kurdsat came from
Sulaimaniyah to attend and during the second week of the
conference, downtown roads were closed to normal traffic due
to the Conference of Arab Parliamentarians taking place in
Erbil - forcing participants to walk a great distance to
reach the training venue. Workshop participant and reporter
Hemim Mam Rash said "as a journalist in more than one
organization (Galle Kurdistan TV, Radio, Kurdistane Nwe
newspaper, and PUKmedia.com) and a journalism student at
Salahaddin University, it was very useful to have an expert
professional provide practical training, especially such a
person as Dr. Hooper who has spent years in the media field.
The experience and information that I learned during these
two weeks was more valuable than two years in university."
5. (U) During free afternoons, Professor Hooper accompanied
the RRT PDO to visit the Journalism Department of the local
Technical Institute and three local television stations
(Galle Kurdistan, Yegirtu, and Zagros). In some cases, these
visits were the first by USG personnel to the partner
institutions and all served to strengthen the RRT's
connection to local contacts. All of the station managers
stressed how useful their journalists found the workshops and
expressed interest in further collaboration.
6. (U) The mission of the PRTs is to build capacity with
local government and civil society organizations; training is
one of the most effective means to build that capacity.
Professor Hooper's training program was also an important
component in RRT outreach to local media. RRT has also
provided OBS videos to local television stations for
broadcast; translated IIP's "Handbook of Independent
Journalism," and nominated local journalists for a study tour
and a TV Coop - but training of this type is the most
important element. It has improved the technical skills of
local journalists and has built great goodwill for the USG
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among key opinion leaders.
7. (U) Post appreciates IIP's support of this program in a
new and challenging environment. This was RRT's first
speaker program and the direct person-to-person interactions
that a speaker/specialist program provides were invaluable.
At the conclusion of the workshop, Hooper indicated a
willingness to conduct a follow-up workshop in the Fall.
Post would welcome that opportunity or other opportunities to
program IIP speakers or specialists.