To mark World Press Freedom Day, a unique, independent initiative to promote dialogue, debate and understanding among Iranians and between Iran and the international community has just been launched by the Institute for War & Reporting (IWPR), the media development network headquartered in London.
The Farsi- and English-language website Mianeh (middle or neutral) aims to be an open space for ideas, news and debate where writers inside Iran can reach out to each other as well as to international audiences. The website (www.mianeh.net) launches with a first package of 10 stories examining international, nuclear and regional issues as well as exploring Internet filtering, censorship and the role of the student movement.
The project has been conceived and developed by IWPR, winner of A OneWorld Media award for “outstanding contribution toward greater world understanding”. IWPR (www.iwpr.net) is an independent non-for-profit organisation governed by boards of journalists, academics and peace activists and supported by a wide range of individual, foundation and governmental sources.
Photojournalism, blogs, podcasts and online debates and discussions are planned as the project develops in the coming months, with individual donation and foundation support being sought – particularly from Muslim communities around the world. No state funds will be used to pay contributors. All articles commissioned will be sympathetically translated and edited in the English section, checked back with the authors and disseminated via free email subscription. All material may be republished freely by others provided the author and the Mianeh site is sourced and material is not re-edited.
Mianeh aims to fully respect and support the identity, national sovereignty and the constitution of the Islamic Republic throughout. Editorial policy is built on the belief that the question of how Iran should develop is strictly a matter for the citizens of Iran. IRNA, the Islamic Republic News Agency in Tehran has already reported on the launch of Mianeh and its desire for “feedback, criticism and suggestions on how to keep it free and fair”. We are already talking to the authorities about the possibility of organising debates and discussions inside and outside Iran.
While appreciating that some of our writers have requested to use pseudonyms to begin with and as the site gets going, Mianeh is strongly urging all contributors in the future to write under their real names in the spirit of full openness and proper debate. We will not publish anything sent in anonymously. International readers are encouraged to participate in the online forums and debates.
IWPR also works to build capacity, cross-border and cultural networks and provide platforms for local voices in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central Asia, the Balkans, the Caucasus, Zimbabwe and Uganda. We also run international justice programming with a new media project starting in the Philippines. For more information about Mianeh or IWPR visit either website www.mianeh.net or www.iwpr.net, or email Alan Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org.