Sep 3, 2018, 9:51 AM
News Code: 83020924
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IRNA chief calls for ending information despotism worldwide

Tehran, Sept 3, IRNA - Managing Director of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) Zia Hashemi criticized Western media for being formed in the context of the colonial history and urged the need to end information despotism in the world.

Big Western news agencies, like other Western organizations and phenomena, were formed in the context of the colonial history; so their ideological foundations, approaches and functions are basically Western. Even their technical structures, economic interests, and dominant literature originate from Western culture and civilization, Hashemi said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 43rd meeting of the executive board of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) in Tehran on Monday.

He noted, 'Dominance over media and news agencies has provided the big powers with a huge extraordinary might for a long time, in a way that they have been able to use the news and information leverage to take measures to change beliefs and attitudes and to engineer domestic and foreign public opinions. These powers' exploitation of media has resulted in the emergence of a phenomenon which can be called 'Information Despotism'.

Information Despotism is de facto a form of traditional despotisms that were manifested in military and political frames. Therefore, it can be claimed that the attempts made by the freedom seekers, the anti-despotism, and anti-colonialism militants have not stopped yet; there is a long way to go to eliminate information despotism.'

Hashemi said,' Today the issue of news imperialism, information trusts, media cartels, and cultural colonialism, has expanded further, especially with the help of information revolution. Big Western news agencies, like other Western organizations and phenomena, were formed in the context of the colonial history; so their ideological foundations, approaches and functions are basically Western. Even their technical structures, economic interests, and dominant literature originated from the Western cultural and civilization.'

The following is the full text of IRNA chief's speech:

In the name Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance,
Mr. President,
Secretary-General,
Dear guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As the Managing Director of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), I welcome you, on behalf of myself and my colleagues, to Tehran and to the 43rd meeting of the Executive Board of Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA), and the meetings of technical and ethical committees. I hope you will have a pleasant stay in the Islamic Republic of Iran. And I also hope that we will be able to have effective professional discussions about executive, technical and ethical issues of OANA in the short opportunity.

As the host of the executive, technical and ethical committees, I consider it as my duty to thank AzerTAc's Director General Aslan Aslanov, as the rotating president of OANA, and his colleagues, and also wish success for South Korean Yonhap News Agency which is supposed to shoulder the important responsibility soon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It has been 180 years since the establishment of the first modern news agencies in the world; and IRNA, as one of the oldest news agencies in Asia and Oceania, celebrated its 84th anniversary this year. For long years, news agencies were the pioneers in producing and publishing news in the national, regional and international levels and have experienced numerous transitions in their path; however, the news agencies of our region suffered from a lack of balance in information dissemination and were under the one-way influence from the North to the South.

One of the most important developments that occurred in the 20th century in order to counter the lack of information dissemination balance was the formation of news coalitions in different parts of the world including Asia and Oceania.

OANA was established 57 years ago by our forefathers; despite numerous ups and downs, it survived with the presence of 44 news agencies from 35 countries. Today, we have gathered together as a part of continental coalition in Tehran to play our role in strengthening and enhancing OANA's effectiveness.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Cherished guests,

Having the majority of the population in the world, OANA state members have more than half of the information dissemination and commerce in the world. But I have to confess that despite all the enormous capacities and six decades of history, OANA has not been able to have the expected effect in the international arena.

The lack of success of OANA has its roots in all of us; considering technological developments in the recent years and the need felt by all the members for closer cooperation, I, in my capacity, hope to elevate OANA as a professional and efficient coalition.

There was a huge distance between our forefathers' financial and human capitals, as well as professional ability and expertise, and those of the big and regional news agencies; hence, they didn’t have a hope to fill the gap. But today, due to the technological advances, expansion of professional training and enhancement of public awareness in the Southern countries, we have a bright prospect. With brainstorming and full cooperation, and using the capacities of organizations such as OANA, we will undoubtedly be able to fill the gap between the North and South information dissemination faster than before and move toward fairer and more democratic and humane global community.

Mass media, as the fourth pillar of democracy, alongside the other pillars: the constitution, parliament, and free elections, has played an important role in expanding democracy, countering oppression and injustice, stating the truths, and providing the citizens' rights in national and regional levels, examples of which are the recent developments in Western Asian and Northern Africa.

Dear colleagues,

Dominance over media and news agencies has provided the big powers with a huge extraordinary might for a long time, in a way that they have been able to use the news and information leverage to take measures to change beliefs and attitudes and to engineer domestic and foreign public opinions. These powers' exploitation of media power has resulted in the emergence of a phenomenon which can be called 'Information Despotism'. Information Despotism is de facto a form of traditional despotisms that were manifested in military and political frames. Therefore, it can be claimed that the attempts made by the freedom seekers, the anti-despotism, and anti-colonialism militants have not stopped yet; there is a long way to go to eliminate information despotism.

Today the issue of news imperialism, information trusts, media cartels, and cultural colonialism, has expanded further, especially with the help of information revolution. Big Western news agencies, like other Western organizations and phenomena, were formed in the context of the colonial history; so their ideological foundations, approaches and functions are basically Western. Even their technical structures, economic interests, and dominant literature originated from the Western cultural and civilization.

Developing counties and the countries with a long history and civilization are still getting the main portion of their information and news from big Western media. In fact, the political and cultural dominance of the West over a large part of today's world has been materialized through controlling the sources of news collection, mass publishing cultural productions all around the world, owning publications and news agencies, and enjoying advanced media tools. Many authorities from politicians of developing countries to Western intellectuals unanimously agree that news agencies are still under the influence of some western news agencies that are inherently West-oriented and move toward the imperialistic goals of the West.

But the recent years' developments in communication technologies have maximized the extension of concepts like Communication Age, Information Explosion, Communication Revolution, and Information Society and have introduced news interactional media to the society. Therefore, the one-way path of production and distribution of news and information is changing to a two-way one; i.e. the recipients of the news and information have changed into senders as well, and can, in return, influence their audience. The governmental monopoly of the news agencies and media has fallen and the government's ability of observing and controlling the information currents has considerably decreased. In fact, satellite stations, internet websites, and social media channels have travelled beyond national borders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

OANA, as an independent organization with cultural and humane causes, must renew and reconstruct itself through utilizing all the member agencies' capacities to be more active in regional and international arenas by setting a new agenda and prioritizing training and using novel technology.

In the end, I hope such developments will show their positive effects in international arenas in the near future and coalitions, such as OANA, will be able to turn more effectively into the real voices of nations, especially the oppressed ones that are fighting for independence, freedom, progress and development, and put an end to the news injustice throughout the world.

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