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Journalism for Peace: Iranian online editor speaks out

Source: The International Journalists' Network (IJNet)

“Iranian journalists live like guerrillas. They go into hiding and then resurface again,” explains the young editor of the online cultural news portal Journalism for Peace (  Mazdak-Ali Nazari, 26, is one of a growing number of Iranian journalists utilizing the Internet.

Over the last year, pressure on Iranian print journalists has increased resulting in a decrease in the number of print publications and an increase in online news sites and Web logs or “blogs.”

“Today, the quality and content of the press has been reduced to the lowest level. Some journalists have left the profession. Many well-known reporters have left the country, and those who have stayed behind move from one newspaper to the next or from one journal to another,” says Mazdak-Ali.

According to Mazdak-Ali, there is a strong Interest in journalism amongst young people in Iran. “They are looking for ways to enter the world of journalism. But many who came enthusiastically at the beginning left after being disappointed,” he explains.

Part of their disappointment is related to media training. In Iran, training opportunities remain few and far between.

“There are a few courses available at the university, but the level is low. Some of us have attended seminars offered by the International Federation of Journalists, but it has been more troublesome than beneficial,” says Mazdak-Ali.  

Training programs are sometimes held, but according to Mazdak-Ali, they are rarely open to all.

“Those journalists who are more qualified are not allowed to attend seminars or take courses; only those who are part of the establishment can benefit from these courses. The rest of us are in a vacuum for now.”

When asked about the future, Mazdak-Ali is optimistic. In his opinion, the establishment of a new independent guild which would solely support and defend the rights of journalists is vital to the development of a strong independent media in Iran.

Mazdak-Ali’s story is illustrative of the determination of a new breed of resourceful young journalists in Iran. While attending the Islamic Free University in Arak, he established its first university magazine.

“This was my first journalism venture,” he explains, “but because of the existing atmosphere, I was expelled.”  

After his experience at university, Mazdak-Ali continued to participate in the publication and editing of several other magazines, including a sports magazine which was also closed down, before establishing Journalism for Peace in 2005.  

As an Iranian and a journalist, Mazdak-Ali is concerned about the image Iran is projecting to the outside world at the present time.

“I heard that in Brazil someone asked an Iranian: ‘Do you people ride camels or do you have cars?’ This is not their fault only; it is what we have shown to the world, that we are underdeveloped. “

According to Mazdak-Ali, Iranian journalists can improve Iran’s image but only if they are given the freedom to do so.

“We are branded as spies working against Iran’s national security. Our leaders should think what they have done to give such a negative impression of us to the outside world.”

Journalism 4 Peace offers Persian language articles on cinema, TV, music, literature, arts, sports, and personal memoirs. The mission of the Web site is to promote cultural dialogue.

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