Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
An Interview with Asieh Amini
I Support Teamwork among Journalists26 October 2012
Reported by Sara Mohseni
Translated by Rose Arjmand
Khabarnegaran.info-From the beginning of the interview she knows what she wants to say. “Supply and demand policies must be according to the current standards of demands.” Asieh Amini, journalist and winner of the Oxfam Novib / Pen Award in 2012, believes that journalism in Iran in in desperate need of research.
Khabarnegaran.info: Ms Amini, do you find teamwork journalism as important as newsroom journalism?
Asieh Amini: I have always believed that if any products are presented to the market according to its needs and they suit the supply and demand circle in the market, they would be welcomed by customers. I know several journalists who never were associated with any parties or networks; still their works were read and were quite popular. We should find out the ratio of the supply/newspapers and demands/readers’ taste. At the time that reformists were in power, they issued permits for numerous newspapers and magazines, which led to a massive number of job vacancies in journalism. A large number of these people were trained for journalism and did not know much about this field. Simply put, they were keen to learn by they did not know anything about their career.
Khabarnegaran.info: How do you evaluate the high supply in the market?
Asieh Amini:We reached to a point where quantity outpaced quality. As amateur journalists outnumbered veteran journalists, we were hoping that they would initiate measures to train themselves or promote their knowledge. Unfortunately, it did not happen. The main reason was that constant political pressure led to newspapers be closed one after another. If they were constantly running, journalists would have a chance to grow their potentials.
Khabarnegaran.info: Have you experienced any sort of teamwork that would be a member of a team and never leave it?
Asieh Amini:I never was a permanent member of a team. However, I try to have a fair opinion about it and I tend to support them. From what I learned, I think we should invest more time and money on teamwork. In Norway and in the city that I live, a national newspaper has been published for the last 200 years. If a journalist starts her career there, she is fully aware of the history of the newspaper and the staffs’ experience. The current staffs know very well how to train a newcomer and they support her warmly. Unfortunately we lack such a system in Iran.
Network journalism is another form of journalism that I am involved in. I am working for a magazine that commissions journalists from across the world. The magazine has leftists perspectives and they commission anyone writing in their direction of thoughts; and they rather to have writers based in various countries rather than centering them in one newsroom. We have writers from South Africa, India, Latin America, and many other countries.
New members are invited to the networks and teams. And relationships are not the bases of such invitations. They invest in you and your career and they provide job security for you as you become a senior journalist.
Khabarnegaran.info:How can you keep the teamwork going? Do you need associations to push it forward?
Asieh Amini:Teamwork is essential to keep the wheels of a magazine turning. But to keep the wheels of teamwork turning, you need associations and to support your team and guarantee your rights are not violated.
In our country mostly newspapers are closed easily which means journalists lose their jobs. Lack of job security makes journalists suffer a lot. There are cases that you see finding a job for someone leads to losing a job for another. People are replaced quickly.
Khabarnegaran.info: Do you find political pressure more effective than individuals’ roles to keep networks working?
Asieh Amini: It is a risky world of journalism in Iran. Iranian journalists should deal with not only a political pressure but also economical pressure. The investors do not have any guaranty what happens to their money. They cannot afford sending their journalists on assignments.
The polarization of news on the capital city is another major problem in this field. Telephone reporting is not real journalism. Journalists should leave their desk and go to the scene of the news.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.