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 Majid Saeedi, photo journalist
Talented photographer with censored and directed visions20 June 2014
Translated by: Hanaa Jam
Khabarnegaran.info- Majid Saeedi surveys photography’s problems in Iran’s press from a more general point of view which he calls "Press Weaknesses" in Iran. This Iranian Photographer is the winner of "Photo Evidence" in 2014 in America.
This prize was given to him because of his photo collection with the name of "Living in War "which is about people of Afghanistan. Before that, one of the global societies of Lucas de Lega gave him a prize for his photos from the same collection.
Mr.Saeedi, as a photo journalist, in what professional level do you think photos are used in Iran’s press?
Iranian press has experienced different decades so did photo journalism, so we can look into it at the same direction. After Khordad the 2nd and election of Mohammad Khatami , photo journalism grew so fast .
So you see Iran’s photojournalism in professional levels now?
I compare Iran with Iran; I don’t compare it with America or Europe. I’m Comparing it with countries like, Iraq, India or Bangladesh, yes, Iran’s photo journalism is more professional.
So if you do compare, how far we are from professional levels?
If we talk professionally, I’d say we don’t have any papers , all we have is some political party bulletins which are dependent on government’s Subsidies and if they don’t get enough advertisement they don’t get published at all . For example now days we have many news agencies like more than 10 or 15, all dependant to Sepah which publish photos and stories for free, this puts all the professional levels in a not so professional position.
You mean there’s no news agency in the world which publishes photos for free?
No, in rest of the world you have to pay some money and get subscription. Even though these days, the world of photography is glutted and every one taking photos with cell phones and other photography equipments which puts photos in a lower possible price ever ,but I remind you , it’s just low price , not for free ! But in Iran, they call it cultural activity and they spend government budget which is better to be spend on construction projects, to fund news agencies with no effective work, and they’re only voice of some particular party at the end.
In these agencies which you call dependent and with no effectiveness, is there professional photo journalism?
In general, we have the best visions and creativity in photography in all Middle East and Aisa, but when a photographer has financial problems, s/he has to work for an agency. We have many good photographers in these agencies whose work and visions are directed and censored, so as time goes by, they lose motives for getting better.
How a directed and censored vision can be still creative and talented? You say these censored visions are still talented?
A photographer, who does good work, always does a good work no matter where you put him/her. If you’re a good writer, no matter what topic they give you, you write a good piece, for example if they ask you to write about war memoirs, you do a good job.
If you want to just name a couple of important elements in photography in the world which is totally ignored in Iran, what would those be?
I’m just going to point out the "New York Times", at least 200000 people start their morning coffee with that paper and this is regarding all the websites and news channels all over the world. We call it professional audience. we don’t have professional addressed or independent paper in Iran . So, there is many professional elements to be ignored in Iran’s press. When you don’t have professional readers, editors don’t value their work enough . for example if an earthquake of float happens in north or south of Iran , they don’t send a reporter or a photographer down there , they say to themselves , my audience read my paper if s/he wants to read it , so they pick a photo from a website and fetch it to their story . But if the audience is professional, s/he would complain about the photo, s/he takes it as an insult to him/her, like why a second hand or a fake photo? And s/he would eliminate the paper from his/her breakfast table. We don’t have such professional audiences.
You see it in a more general way; you mean our press society makes such weaknesses?
Yes, it falls on our press which contains photos and stories, when the director isn’t professional and the audiences don’t care, it makes a problematic cycle at the end.
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.