In North Iraq there are so called 'disputed territories' which are and will continue to be unstable and uncertain. One of the disputed territories is Kirkuk province, where online independent media agency Kirkuk Now aims to provide reliable information to people living in these regions. Independent media, providing reliable information, is invaluable to efforts towards building a stable society in these diverse areas.

In 2011, independent online media agency Kirkuk Now was established by the Independent Media Centre Kurdistan; a Free Press Unlimited partner. They started as a news organisation that provides information to the people of Kirkuk province, one of the disputed territories in Northern Iraq. With the help of Free Press Unlimited they have relaunched their website to focus on providing unbiased, independent news to all of the disputed territories.

Objective information for the disputed territories

In a country where the press freedom is under pressure, Kirkuk Now has renewed its focus on providing independent and reliable information to citizens of all the disputed territories. Kirkuk Now posts articles relevant to the disputed territories in the three main languages of the region: Kurdish, Turkmen and Arabic. Combining this inclusive approach with an active social media presence, on both Facebook and Twitter, Kirkuk Now reaches a broader audience.

Kirkuk Now reporting in a refugee camp

A relevant news source

Combining this inclusive approach with their renewed platforms, Kirkuk Now is able to reach a broader audience and bring them together through a shared understanding of independent information. Through their emphasis on issues pertaining to women, youth, refugees and IDPs, Kirkuk Now provides a source of relevant, local and critical information for the citizens of the disputed territories. 

Importance of independent information

In conflict and post-conflict regions independent information is vital to the rebuilding of an inclusive, diverse society. This is particularly important in Iraq's disputed territories, which are home to a mix of ethnicities and religions. Here the differences in society have been exploited by extremist groups such as ISIS, in order to drive communities apart.

Kirkuk Now reporter interviewing a women activist attending a peaceful coexistence conference. Photo by Yassin Saba’wy

Objective reporting

Independent media can play an important role in healing these divides by promoting dialogue and providing a platform for relevant, unbiased information. Salam Omer, editor-in-chief of Kirkuk Now, is convinced of the potential impact his agency can have. "I truly believe that we can contribute to creating a suitable environment through objective reporting, where all citizens of northern Iraq can get closer to each other and face the challenges together. I think misinformation has led to deep misunderstanding among people of those areas and objective reporting will help people make proper decisions about how to live together and how to build their future."

Cooperating towards media development

This project aims to strengthen independent media in and for the disputed territories, and support its sustainability. That's why Free Press Unlimited supports Kirkuk Now in corporation with WADI (a development cooperation organization which provides logistics and expertise). Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, director of WADI, states: “We've worked in Iraqi-Kurdistan for 25 years, focusing on a variety of programs including the empowerment of women and democratization. Cooperating with Kirkuk Now opens new horizons, because of their professional media knowledge and the concept of working in the disputed territories.”