A Fragmented Landscape: Barriers to Independent Media in Iraq

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Research Centres Meeting Suite, 9th Floor, Pankhurst House, Clement's Inn, WC2A 2AZ


Aida Al-Kaisy

Aida Al-Kaisy



Dr Jessica Watkins

Dr Jessica Watkins

LSE Middle East Centre

mosul cameras 800-600

The Iraqi media landscape has been characterised by partisan ownership, in the main based on political and religious affiliations. Comparative ethnographic research has revealed highly irregular practices and the struggles of Iraqi journalists to adhere to the norms of professionalism, suggesting that these practices are contributing to and fuelling the on-going context of conflict and violence in Iraq. Within this challenging environment, there have been some attempts to develop media platforms that carve out spaces which can contribute to better journalism and, ultimately, better local and national governance. This report explores, in the context of this environment, the challenges that these media are facing. It examines a number of barriers to the development of independent media in Iraq, providing some recommendations to how these obstacles might be be tackled. Based on interviews with key media and political stakeholders that took place in Iraq in January and February 2019, it provides some insight into the complex interaction between political and social conditions, structure and agency in Iraq.

Aida Al-Kaisy is a Media Reform Advisor and has worked extensively on media development projects across the MENA region including in Iraq, Palestine and Jordan. She is currently working on a number of projects, focusing on issues related to youth engagement in media, media in conflict, social cohesion and the media and the development of independent media platforms in MENA amongst other things. She is completing a PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where she also teaches on a part-time basis, on the performance of the media in conflict, using Iraq as a case study. Aida is also programme consultant for the Ethical Journalism Network and a keen promoter of ethical values in journalistic practice and media governance. 

Jessica Watkins is Research Officer at the Middle East Centre, currently working on a DFID-funded project looking at regional drivers of conflict in Iraq and Syria. The project ties in with Jessica’s previous research at the Rand Corporation into Iraqi and regional security issues. Her PhD at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, was on policing and dispute management in Jordan.

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Image: March 30, 2017 - Mosul, Nineveh Province, Iraq - After the animals had been loaded onto the truck DR. AMIR KHALIL gives a media statement before the team evacuates from the zoo. Mosul, Iraq. (Credit Image: © Gabriel Romero via ZUMA Wire). Source: Alamy


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