The Branch Committee has agreed to support an appeal for funds and equipment to launch an Indymedia centre in Baghdad. Given the scarcity of internet access in Iraq at the moment, this is going to be a paper-based equivalent. The project is based on the same principles of giving a voice to those who don't normally get heard.
If you have a spare computer or other kit, contact the Freelance editor now. See www.freelancenews.org for updates. There will have been a debate on this at the May Branch meeting.
Message from Baghdad
Here's what we've come up with so far:
- A weekly (or semi-weekly if we can swing it, but
likely not at first) newspaper in Arabic and English,
called Al-Muajaha, The Iraqi Witness. (al-Muajaha
means "The Facing"), to be printed & distributed here
in Baghdad, and world-wide on the Web.
- Six sections to the paper:
This gives us 14-18 pages each issue (dbl the #s for
- News & Features (news & human interest stories), 2-4
- Arts & Culture (to include 2 poems by local poets),
- Religion (inclusive of all faiths & sects in Iraq),
- Iraq Under Saddam Hussein (but called something
else, tbd, where 1 submission per issue would be
accepted/solicited talking about experiences under the
previous regime), 1/2 page.
- Community Announcements, 1/2 page.
- Opinion/Editorial, 2 pages.
We need: editors for each section, extra writers
for at least the News & Features section,
photographers, Arabic & English copy editors, and a
layout editor. We could rotate the editorial jobs to
make it less hierarchal, but I, personally, would be
worried that - at least at first - if we didn't have
one person responsible for each section, that it would
be difficult to actually get it done...
- In terms of equipment, we need:
The sat modems are $1300 each, plus $13/megabyte
(downloaded or uploaded), the other stuff comes to
$12K, by our estimate (purchasing it locally)
- 5 computers w/arabic language support & keyboards
- 2 printers
- a xerox machine
- a fax machine (once phone lines are back up)
- 2 phone lines
- a dedicated internet line (sat modems to serve until
phones are up)
- 2 digital cameras
- 2 video cameras
- 2 file cabinets
- 5 desks/chairs
- a sofa & lounge chairs
- an air conditioner
- a fridge
- a generator (even when power comes up, it's
likely not going to be available 24/7)
- Additional costs are:
(it's taking some time as most places are still shut
down from the war, and travel in the city is both
time-consuming due to roadblocks, and expensive due to
gas prices & all the journalists here jacking up
- Rent: estimated $7-12K/year
- Transportation: est. $5K/year
- Food: est. $1K/year
- Office supplies: est. $1K/year
- Utilities: est. $1K/year
- Printing Costs: unknown, we are researching this
So... we've got an initial estimate of $32K/year, plus
printing costs, to start this...
We also talked about salaries, and while everyone is
committed to making this happen for free if need be,
but they would like to make at least $20/month for
themselves & their families - so that would be another
$3K/year or so if we have a dozen people on staff...