By Deborah Amos
Shorenstein Center Goldsmith Fellow, Spring 2010
Correspondent, National Public Radio
After the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, Iraq’s news media environment transformed almost overnight from the tightly controlled propaganda arm of Saddam Hussein’s rule into one of the most diverse and unrestricted news environments in the Middle East. Built in an atmosphere of chaos and conflict, Iraq’s media landscape now reflects the ethno-sectarian divide in the country. These deeply partisan news outlets have the potential to widen the gap between communities and weaken the national identity.
However, new studies show the majority of Iraqis have learned to read the media landscape, sampling news programs across the sectarian divide with a high level of distrust for all news outlets. This paper describes the Iraqi media and raises key questions: Is the Iraq news media an environment that encourages democracy and state building? What are the prospects to retain an open and pluralistic media landscape within Iraq’s sectarian system?