As the Executive Director of PAAIA, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the concerns posted on this venue regarding the documentary, The Iranian Americans, that will be released by PBS in the fall of 2012.
PAAIA has NOT funded this documentary. This independent project was solely conceived and produced by the flagship PBS Station of Southern California (PBS SoCal) with Emmy Award winning Director, Andrew Goldberg, not PAAIA. Further, though we promoted the project in our newsletter, our organization did not provide any recommendations on whom the producers and PBS should interview for this documentary. We have also not contacted any individuals regarding their participation in or financial contributions to this documentary. The interviewees were selected based on their merits, background, accomplishments, and representation of the broad and diverse Iranian American community. We are, however, deeply proud and honored that some of the individuals featured in the documentary are, in some form, associated with PAAIA.
Providing any type of funding by PAAIA for the production of such a documentary would be against PBS regulations and would, in fact, jeopardize whether this program could be aired. In fact, PBS has strict and well-documented rules regarding conflict of interest and is prohibited from receiving any funding from anyone being interviewed on a program. These types of unfounded allegations can be harmful to an organization that is well known for the depth, diversity, and quality of its programming. We have been informed by the producers that, in the near future, PBS will release a webpage that provides the names of the major players involved in the development, funding, and production of this documentary. Transparency with respect to such funding is mandated by the FCC for PBS productions and ensures that PBS remains free of undue influence by funders. We are confident that, at that time, you will be able to learn more about the production, who was involved, who produced it, and, of course, how independent it is.
We have also been informed that should someone write them directly, not anonymously, or should a legitimate forum ask formally for comment or clarification on the matter, the producers, including the presenting station, PBS SoCal, would consider responding to that person or entity directly.
The Iranian American community is a small and growing one. We are a community that should embrace our diversity, our strength, and our successes. We should focus on uniting our community and making it stronger and more active. Both individuals and organizations play an equal role in our ability to do so. Using unfounded allegations to question the validity of a documentary that hopes to promote our culture, our community, and our people in an objective manner only serves to diminish who we are and what we represent as an immigrant population.
Finally, posting uncorroborated, fictional, and inaccurate comments about PAAIA or any other organization is not constructive for any of us and takes away from a venue that should be used for productive and useful dialogue. It also fragments and divides our community at a time when we should come together to forge better ties between us and our families and friends and the communities in which we reside. I invite any individual who has a concern about PAAIA, our programs, goals, and objectives, to communicate with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and allow this venue to be used for uniting and celebrating our community.
Saghi Modjtabai, Executive Director
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