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New Media Center Launched in Erbil, Iraq

“Today marks a new era for our students and journalists – this center means the Erbil Technical Administration Institute (ETAI) can train our young people in new technology and modern media ethics.” With these words Dr. Azad Khoshnaw, the Dean of ETAI cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the Institute’s new media center on November 22, 2010.

The use of technology and new media is growing rapidly, particularly among the younger generation of Iraqis. Social media, mobile phones, on-line media, and blogs are becoming an increasingly important means of communicating. The government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government have also recognized the important of technology in their delivery of government services and their ability to interact with civil society, as was highlighted at a recent conference on new technologies organized by IREX and IWPR.

Given the rapid growth of new media and the lack of consistent training opportunities for journalists and journalism students in Iraq, IREX worked with ETAI to develop and equip the training center. It will be used both by students at ETAI to learn about the use of new media and new technologies in journalism as well as by IREX for trainings for current journalism professionals. IREX is also developing a training of trainers program for new media that will be used at ETAI and throughout Iraq. In addition, IREX recently supported the development of a new media curriculum in Kurdish to further help develop new media skills among journalism students using a practical, hands-on approach.

“The center will provide a forum for peer to peer networking and professional development. We hope to encourage other media faculty to incorporate new media into their curricula and to train their students how to use the internet in a responsible and ethical way,” says Saman Omer, IREX Regional Media Manager in northern Iraq.

The IREX program in Iraq, “Media and Technology for Community Development” supports the capacity of media and civil society to use technology to promote transparency and accountability of public officials and to engage in dialogue. It is supported under a grant from the US Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

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