7 فروردین 1393

Local journalists or crafters of advertorials

27 March 2014

Translated by:Mehrdad Safa

Khabarnegaran.info-Saba Etemad : Hossein Zandi, a local journalist, shares his experience of working for the local press in Hamadan Province, Iran, and the widespread practice of “advertorials.”

“Running advertisements as news stories has become quite common in Hamadan,” Zandi says, “So common that both the advertised individual and the journalist have a positive attitude to it.”

Zandi believes that ads disguised as news stories have been a serious impediment to the evolvement of professional journalism in the provinces of Iran.

“The process is often like this; after a contact is made between a journalist and an organization, a full-page article is written to lavishly praise that organization or the one in charge. Once the article is published, a bank account is given to the advertised person, who will pay a significant amount of money,” Zandi explains.

“In short, it is journalism ethics and standards being undermined. A critical attitude no longer exists. The journalist has now become a marketing expert affiliated with certain organizations,” says Zandi, who sees all these behind the low circulation of local press in Hamadan.

Professional journalists leave for Tehran

In Zandi’s opinion, lack of a free union or guild presents a serious challenge to journalists in Hamadan.

“The House of Journalists and the House of Press are both affiliated with the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry. No organization exist to pursue the legal rights and professional interests of media workers. So, when a photographer or journalist is beaten by landgrabber, hardly a voice of criticism could be heard from fellow journalists.”He describes the practice of journalism in Hamadan as an “affiliated” profession, with most media workers lacking knowledge about their own rights.

Zandi makes a few interesting observations about his fellow journalists, “Journalism is a launch pad for seizing other job opportunities. Since, in many cases, a journalist has not chosen this profession by interest, they leave their job as soon as they are offered another.”

“Most journalists do not care what to write about. Whatever they receive as an order, they make up the exact same story, working like a marketing expert,” he further explains.

Zandi believes that the emigration of professional journalists to Tehran is mainly because of the huge amount of advertorials.

Only two daily papers are published and distributed throughout the province of Hamadan. One of them is owned by the Hamadan Municipality, while another is privately owned.

The circulation of newspapers and weekly magazines usually ranges from 1000 to 3000 copies. A considerable portion of copies is purchased by government organizations, which are a year’s subscription to these publications. The remaining publications are sold at newsstands. Unsold publications then are sent back to the distribution center where they will be sold per kilo.

The area of press distribution almost includes all of Hamadan province. “Compared to the 1950s, no significant difference can be seen in the circulation, while literacy rate and number of newsstands has been multiplied by tens, as well as the population,” Zandi concludes, “So one can say reading newspapers has seen a backward, rather than a forward, progress.”

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