The Kurdish Globe
By Shorsh Ghafuri
Twezhinawa "Research" Center, conducted a survey about Khabat Daily newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and one of the few Kurdish daily newspapers in the Kurdistan Region.
The results of the survey were announced during a seminar at the Chwarchra Hotel in Erbil. The seminar was attended by the directors and staff of the newspaper, a number of university professors and journalists. The survey was conducted during October 20 -- 27 2011 in the center of Erbil. 350 questionnaire forms were distributed, out of which 303 forms were filled in and returned.
233 forms were filled in by employees within Salahaddin University Presidency, College of Arts, College of Administration and Economy, ministries of planning, labor and social security, electricity and natural resources, Directorate General of Employment as well as the Erbil Directorate of Education. 70 forms were distributed in the city center, public places, newspaper kiosks and teahouses. According to the introduction printed on the first page of the questionnaire, the survey is conducted by 4 researchers and under the supervision of the Twezhinawa Center.
69% percent of the participants were males and 31% were females; 72% were between the ages of 18-35 and 28% were between the ages of 36-60.
The literacy level of 66% was high, while 30% was mid-level and the remaining 4% were basic level, and of 80% of the participants were government employees, 8% students, 5% business people, 4% other works and 3% unemployed people.
The financial situation of 65% of the participants was average, 28.1% was good and 5.9% was bad.
The response was classified into two groups, a group of those who have been reading Khabat for less than a year, and the second group was those who have been reading it for more than a year.
Among the survey participants, 41% read the newspaper on a daily basis and 59% read it periodically.
22% of those who read the newspaper on a daily basis felt that Khabat has improved, while 18% thought it had become static and hadn't improved much. 10% of them claim that it is better than before, and the rest did not have any comment about it.
Another question was around how people receive the newspaper. 62.4% answered that they get it at their offices, 18.2% received it from their friends, 9.2% bought it, 8.9% read it online and 1.3% had subscription.
A number of questions were posed about the cover page, including one about the main heading. The majority of the participants argued that it is normal, while roughly a quarter of them believe that it is attractive, while 10% believe that it is very attractive and the rest either do not read the heading or think it is not attractive at all.
In general the survey consisted of a number of general questions raised about the newspaper and the seminar organized in Chwarchra raised a number of issues of importance for readers of Khabat and other newspapers.
Among the participants were two parliament members, who have used to work at the paper, i.e. Abdulsalam Barwari and Aso Karim.
MP Barwari said that it is normal if the paper, as the organ of a political party, does not develop a lot and stays within its party framework.
"The party has not witnessed a dramatic development, hence it is normal to see Khabat unchanged either," MP Barwari told the attendants. "According to KDP standards, lack of this development is not a negative aspect."
MP Karim also said that Khabat follows a specific path and has a specific style. "I don't argue that this inadaptability is good, but this is Khabat," MP Karim argued.
Aza Hasib, a journalist, criticized the questions raised in the survey and labeled them as too general. Hasib said that these questions are not dependable in determining the opinions about the newspaper.
"During the past two years, a lot of changes have happened in all aspects and if among all these changes and developments Khabat is still not developed in parallel, then keeping the same path is a negative characteristic," Hasib said. "Even if it is a party newspaper, it should still change proportionate to the changes and developments in the party itself."
Dr. Tahir Zebari, head of the media department at Salahaddin University also supported the idea of change and development in the newspaper as the KDP has also witnessed changes.
Dr. Razwan Badini, a lecturer at the media department described the paper as a traditional newspaper.
"Someone who sees today's issue, knows what tomorrow's issue would look like, as it has taken a specific form and each day's issue looks like that of any other given day," said Badini. "This is negative."
In general, it was agreed that Khabat is a party newspaper and has been unable to let go out of its old framework and the only major changes that can be witnessed include changing its editor in chief, and the addition of an Arts and Intellectual supplement.
Sonia Qadir, journalist and editor in chief of both the Taw Photography and Taw Social magazines, says that Khabat should have enough courage not to hide its reality and try to change itself.
Salam Abdulla, the new editor in chief of Khabat, who also attended the seminar, talked about a few changes that they are planning to do in the paper in the near future, including increasing the circulation, assign Tatar Company to distributing the paper and distributing it for free in Suleimaniya.
"We are also planning to change the logo, and we have raised this issue for approval," claimed Abdulla.
Besides all the issues raised and the generality of the questions in the survey, there were a number of clear mistakes in the results announced, but neither the participants nor the members of the Twezhinawa Center realized it or bothered to address them.