ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Only nine months into its establishment, Kurdistan24 media and research outlet entirely reshaped its television programs, launching a new season in August.
A broadcast news station based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Kurdistan24 has foreign bureaus in Washington DC, United States; Moscow, Russia; Brussel, Belguim; Diyarbakir, Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey; Baghdad, Iraq and Qamishli, Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
Kurdistan24 was launched on October 31, 2015, with television programs in Sorani and Kurmanji dialects of Kurdish and websites in English, Arabic, and Turkish.
Noreldin Waisy, the founder and general manager of the station explained in an interview that even though Kurdistan24 started its activity in hard times--while Peshmerga was liberating Shingal from the Islamic State (IS) and the region was tackling other geopolitical issues--some Kurdistan24 reports made headline around the world.
In less than a year, Kurdistan24’s exclusive videos of interviews with American, Swedish, and Dutch former IS members were cited numerous times in some of the most prominent outlets in North America and Europe including the New York Times, CNN, Daily Mail, Reuters, Associated Press (AP) and others.
“At one point Kurds had to rely on international media to get updated on the news, even their own news, but now it’s the other way around. International media relies on us to get accurate and timely news,” Waisy said.
The general manager added that Kurdistan24 has been the leading voice for Peshmerga fighters who fearlessly combat one of the most vicious forces of our time, the IS.
In the new television season that was launched on August 2, Kurdistan24 not only updated the technical and graphic aspect of broadcasting but also introduced new programs, including an enlightening Kurdish program titled “The Road to Independence.”
“Our crew has traveled to and studied other countries around the world that are now independent. We examine what these nations have gained and lost in their new country, what their challenges and achievements have been,” Waisy said.
He later explained some of the difficulties that he encounters when running a TV in Kurdistan.
“Broadcasting in a modern style in Kurdistan is an infant industry without a significant history. In the current ambiance, some journalists believe if they don’t attack their guests, they are not good journalists. That's not our style. We ask tough questions but maintain our dignity and that of the guest.”
Waisy was asked to explain why despite the financial crisis that has crippled the Region, Kurdistan24 has been able to function.
“We initiated the project long before the economic crisis hit the region. Anyone who is familiar with establishing a TV would know that it cannot be done overnight. The project needs long-term planning and budgeting,” Waisy said.
He also pointed out that Kurdistan24 is not the only TV working in spite of the crisis in the Region and there are some that were recently launched.
Commenting on the independence of media, Waisy explained there is really no fully independent outlet in the world.
“Journalism is a science,” he said. “Just because an outlet is financially independent, it does not mean they are a reliable source.”
He explained one of the unique achievements for Kurdistan24 is offering impartial news. The station has offered airtime to various political parties in greater Kurdistan and has never been boycotted by any group.
“We have been a gate. We have given voice to various groups and parties, even when we did not agree with their views.”
Waisy clarified that Kurdistan24 has been part of the democratic transformation of Kurdish society through a commitment to provide clear, comprehensive, timely and unbiased information for the people of Kurdistan.
The general manager explained that in Kurdistan and the Middle East, it is difficult, if not implausible, for media outlets to work without being close to political parties, however, the affiliations have never been an obstacle to professional journalism in Kurdistan24.
“Being close to a country, or an organization or a party is not the criteria to judge a media outlet. What matters is how professional the network is. Just because a source is financially independent, does not mean the quality of their work is high. On the other hand, not all the dependent media outlets are unreliable,” the general manager explained.
He pointed out that many powerful outlets such as Fox News, Al-Arabiya, Al-Jazeera are affiliated with various parties or countries but they are still effective mainstream media.
The founder of Kurdistan24 was asked if the TV’s affiliations have created red lines.
“We do have red lines but they are not imposed by a certain political party. We have not and will not allow anyone to use our TV to launch attacks on any individual, or any political party,” he said.
He added that racism, sexism, violence, hate speech, and any other inappropriate and harmful manner is prohibited in Kurdistan24. “And these are red lines we are proud of,” he said.
“Our team of journalists and technicians at Kurdistan24 strive for the highest possible standards. We aim to shake the world of regional journalism, to ask the questions that others dare not ask, to investigate in the interests of public and to provide the platform of knowledge without which no democratic society can function,” Waisy concluded.
Kurdistan24’s goal has been to set unrivaled international standards in and for the Middle East. For this goal to be achieved, the team has been given the full opportunity to work freely and professionally.