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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 12:55 GMT
The press in Iraq
Iraq press graphic - Samarra mosque

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein the press in Iraq - like the rest of Iraqi society - has been in a constant state of flux.

The collapse of the old regime triggered a media free-for-all. Iraqis were soon able to choose from more than 200 publications, compared with just a handful during the Saddam era. But for every new publication that emerged, several others folded, largely owing to lack of funding. BBC sources in Baghdad estimate that the number of newspapers currently publishing on a regular basis is around 50.

Almost all of Iraq's papers are funded by political or religious parties, except for the Al-Sabah daily which is backed by the US-led coalition. Even those which claim to be independent are usually known to have political affiliations.

Whilst the present, rather chaotic media scene may be considered an improvement on what went before, for some Iraqis the new press freedom has not lived up to expectations.

Many newspapers have a credibility problem among Iraqi readers and often contain unverified, false or heavily-biased reports, undermining any notion of independent journalism.

The lack of security in the country is also hindering any development of a free press. The pan-Arab, London-based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, for example, has decided to close its Baghdad office temporarily after receiving threats against its journalists.

There are currently no reliable circulation figures available for papers published in Iraq. The difficult security situation causes distribution problems and some papers now publish internet editions in an attempt to overcome this.

Main papers

Al-Zaman

Al-Zaman was founded in London in 1997 by Saad Al-Bazzaz, an Iraqi media tycoon. The main editorial staff are still in Britain, but it now has offices in major cities in Iraq and publishes a separate Iraqi edition. Its website is published in Arabic and English.


Al-Sabah

Al-Sabah was set up soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The paper is sponsored by the Iraqi Media Network, which was set up by the now-defunct US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The newspaper's website contains Iraqi and international news, and a detailed sports and culture section. It also has a link to an editorial written in English.


Al-Sabah al-Jadid

Al-Sabah al-Jadid was set up by the former editor-in-chief of Al-Sabah, Ismael Zayer. Mr Zayer resigned from Al-Sabah in May 2004 after accusing the US-led coalition of editorial interference. Since then Al-Sabah Al-Jadid staff members - including Mr Zayer and his wife - have been the targets of violent attacks. On 29 May 2004 Mr Zayer's driver and bodyguard were killed in one such attack. Mr Zayer initially blamed "elements from Saddam Hussein's old regime" but added that it could have been "people who resented my resignation from Al-Sabah to found a new paper".


Al-Sharq al-Awsat

This is the Baghdad edition of the Saudi-owned, London-based daily of the same name. It temporarily closed its office in Baghdad after receiving threats, but said that it would continue to cover news in Iraq.


Al-Mashriq

Al-Mashriq was set up at the beginning of 2004, describing itself as an "independent" newspaper. One of the paper's journalists has told the website of Al-Jazeera TV that it is also "fiercely anti-occupation".


Al-Adalah

Al-Adalah is published twice-weekly by Iraq's main Shia Muslim political group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).


Baghdad

Baghdad is the daily newspaper published by the Iraqi National Accord Movement, the party of Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The paper was originally published in London, but has since moved to Baghdad.


BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.





MIDDLE EAST PRESS PROFILES
 

SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Iraq
18 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Iraq
16 Nov 04 |  Country profiles



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