As the first ever media education in Iraq, Baghdad University’s four-year journalism education is to expand with specialised training in investigative journalism
Baghdad University Media College, the IMS-supported Network for Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism, and IMS have agreed to jointly develop a new curriculum on investigative journalism.
– Media education in Iraq is weak and has suffered for decades under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and subsequently during the past nine years of political, sectarian and religious parties, said Mr. Hisham Hasan, the dean of Baghdad University Media College to IMS.
Taking part in a weeklong workshop on investigative journalism organised by IMS and the Network for Iraqi Reporters for Investigative Journalism (NIRIJ), Mr. Hasan expressed a need for a master’s level curriculum for investigative journalism to be developed for Iraq’s journalism education.
– I would like to ask IMS and NIRIJ to assist in developing the curriculum. As for teaching, currently we have no qualified professors to teach investigative journalism, said the dean.
To meet the lack of qualified teachers, the dean asked prominent journalists from the NIRIJ network to provide the teaching of the new curriculum.
Abandoning ‘propaganda journalism’
Together with four media professors of the University Media College and eight NIRIJ members, the university dean confirmed that the education at the media college lacks the modern techniques and models of journalism, and that techniques of working with investigative journalism are completely unknown to both teachers and students. Something, which is set to change once teaching of the new curriculum commences next year.
– It’s about time we abandon decades of propaganda journalism. This is a first step in bringing Iraqi journalism up to and above the levels we see in our neighbouring countries in the Middle East, said Khulood Al Amiry of NIRIJ on their new collaboration with the university.
– With this collaboration we hope to be part of the teachers who will educate a new generation of journalists, who may serve society and be the watchdog for citizens, exposing misuse of power and corruption, continued NIRIJ Supervisor Mohammed Al Rubaii.
Resuscitating the Iraqi media
Mr. Hasan said the curriculum of the media college is inherited from the previous regime, where critical writing, and conducting broad research of news sources, was prohibited. Meanwhile the current media landscape is still lacking the right of access to information, which makes it difficult for journalists to obtain the needed information to act as the watchdog of society.
– The Iraqi media is like a dead body. We need to inject life into this body. By providing teaching in investigative journalism, we help both the Iraqi media and society to confront the widespread corruption and lack of fundamental freedoms of expression in our country, said Mr. Hasan.
Baghdad University is now set to work closely with NIRIJ and IMS on developing the new curriculum. The new courses on investigative journalism are set to commence next year.