Monday, 30 April 2012, 07:27 GMT
Publishers concerned as sales drop precipitously

A number of men browse headlines in a newpaper kiosk in Erbil Downtown in this file photo./ GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamed

The Kurdish Globe

There are currently more than 133 newspapers and magazines published inside Kurdistan.

Newspaper sellers in the region's markets claim that demand for newspapers has significantly dropped this year, and with the exception of a few publications, "90 percent of the papers" sent to the market for purchasing are eventually sent back to publishers.

In the downtown

Aree Mohammed, 19, who is reading a newspaper at a kiosk in downtwon Erbil, says his interest in sports news compels him to buy a couple of sports newspapers and even magazines every week.
But for Aso Hasan, 26, most Kurdish newspapers are waste of money.

"All the newspapers write about the same thing that viewers see on TV at night, so there is no reason for all of the publication to exist," Aso says.

In the mean time

Now, 114 years after the publication of the first Kurdish newspaper, newspaper sellers are concerned about the situation of their publications.

A newspaper kiosk owner who has been selling publications for 21 years and introduced himself as Ashti, says that newspaper markets have passed through different stages, and despite the fact that Kurdish journalism entered a new era after 2003, starting early last year the situation worsened.

Ashti argues, "Magazines that used to be very popular and were sold out the same day, arrived at the market now and stay in kiosks in bulks," he tells the Globe. "All kiosk owners share the idea that the number of the publications should decrease while quality and authenticity must improve so that people have more trust in the newspapers."

Ako Mohammed, editor in chief of Rudaw, a weekly newspaper, believes that the market and readers should be able to decide which publications should continue and which should stop, and some publications should make the decision to close on their own, especially those that are funded by a specific entity and think that they don't have the desired impact or sales volume.

Kurdistan Region's newspapers suffer from a shortage in financial resources and don't have the characteristics that newspapers in other countries have. For instance, Mohammed argues that Kurdish newspapers lack legal advisors to support the interests of the public.

"Media organizations should try to reach this stage of comprehensiveness and should consider the public interest while publishing important and good quality news articles," explained Mohammed in a Globe interview.

Addressing the weak newspaper market in Kurdistan, Rudaw's editor said that the market of printed media is decreasing globally except in some countries such as India and Turkey.

Shwan Dawoodi, Deputy Chairman of the Journalists Syndicate of Kurdistan, believes that lack of subscriptions, specialized distribution companies, newspaper shops outside city centers, and management of some newspapers by unspecialized and inexperienced managers, the transference of political conflicts into the media organizations, and widespread Internet use by the public are among major reasons for the weakening market of print journalism.

Dawoodi, however, argued that there are still 15 to 20 publications that have maintained their place in the market and have tangible impact on decision-making centers.

According to a report by the Media Network, currently there are more than 133 magazines and newspapers, and kiosk owners see decreasing quality and integrity of the publications and most importantly wide use of Internet a source of information and news have weakened the market for newspapers and magazines.