Local magazine inspires community

30 Mar 2008 | Cpl. Billy Hall

The free flow of information through local media can give citizens a feeling of involvement and understanding. It fosters hope and growth within the community.

For years, citizens of al-Qa’im, Iraq, have gone with minimal access to any type of local media. However, a promising hope has come to rise within the region.

Local leaders, school teachers, women, children and all those who support freedom of speech came together recently to celebrate the two-year anniversary of an up-and-coming local magazine.

Teacher Magazine finds its roots in a local high school in Ubaydi, Iraq, and after a promising growth and a buzz of interest in the surrounding area, the publication is expanding and may fill a void as a local media outlet in al-Qa’im.

Readers and supporters of the magazine were in attendance at the Ubaydi Secondary School to recognize the true accomplishment and significance of a successful local magazine made by the people, for the people.

“Most of Ubaydi is without any type of media,” said Odai Ne’ama Najen, a local teacher and an editor for the magazine. “The people miss TV, they miss radio. They came to us and asked us what we can do.”

The two-year anniversary celebration included skits and songs performed by local school children and readings of poetry by both teachers and students.

Task Force Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 have been working with the magazine staff to help boost production and reach a wider audience.

“The magazine reflects the progress made in the al-Qa'im district because it demonstrates two principal freedoms – freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” said 1st Lt. Albert Culbreth, the information operations officer for 3rd Bn., 23rd Marines. “People here haven’t had this opportunity in a long time.”

Each monthly magazine features an interview with leaders in various professions as well as articles on education, religion, sports and local happenings. As the magazine has grown, comics and even crossword puzzles have made their way into the content.

Teacher Magazine has also found success in accepting submissions from a variety of people within the community.

“The magazine is an effective way for getting information to the people,” said Culbreth. “The people enjoy the magazine because it not only provides them with news and information but also because local citizens write and publish the magazine.”

The publication is appealing to the people on many levels, helping them to grow more in tune with their community and by giving them a venue for their voices to be heard.

“All the people are really taking a liking to the magazine,” said Odai. “We’re finding that many local people have a skill for writing.”

As funding and popularity has steadily increased for Teacher Magazine, a precedent has developed that is slowly sweeping away the restrictions of the past.

“The old regime mandated the composition of all publications,” said Culbreth. “To see a magazine that allows people to write what they feel is a big step forward for the people of al-Qa'im.”