Background of News Agency
Iran has several news agencies; both independent or private, and government controlled agencies (Shahidi). Fars News Agencies is amongst the many independent news agencies operating in Iran; with its headquarters in Tehran, Iran. Abbreviated as FNA, the news agency describes itself as “Iran’s leading independent news agency” and it covers an extensive range of subjects mainly political, economic, legal and social (FARS News Agency). Additionally, it covers stories in sports, as well as military affairs. It prides itself in delivery of the most-up-to-date, unbiased, independent, as well as reliable reports and news; delivered in both English and Turkish as well as Persian and Arabic. The news agency was founded in early 2003 (FARS News Agency). Ever since its foundation, it has developed to turn into one of the trusted sources of news dissemination. This, it does by presentation of accountable and the latest analyses, reports, articles, and interviews; all done by its team of experts trained and qualified in their respective fields (FARS News Agency). These newsmen and women are dedicated to their jobs and satisfaction of their audience when the story hits the papers and online webpages. The agency’s English department was founded in late 2005; probably with the aim of expanding the agency’s viewer and readership base away from the domestic Persian speakers and readers.
Fars News Agency has a number of competitors such as the Tehran Times and Press TV among many others. These rival agencies are as fierce in competition as they are considered credible and authentic as far as their news content is concerned (Shahidi). If the audience who consume the information produced by media houses consider a given media house to be unreliable and biased in any way, they tend to shy away from it and look for unbiased information sources to get the real stories behind issues at hand. Whilst Fars News Agency considers itself independent and unbiased by all accounts, internationally renowned media houses like CNN and Reuters describe it as a semi-official news agency that has ties to the government (Shahidi). These claims, however, can be true or false but it is upon the readers and audience to determine whether there are biases that render the News Agency “semi-official” and government linked, as opposed to an independent News Agency that aims to disseminate information in the best way possible without any biases.
Foreign Policy Correspondence
As far as foreign policy correspondence is concerned, Fars News Agency has a section of its website dedicated to Politico-Defense news and analysis. The section is further divided into foreign policy, politics, nuclear, and lastly defense news sections. Under each of the sections, stories on various subjects from various countries are reported but individual foreign policy correspondents are not credited with the stories; instead, almost each of the stories is credited to the organization.
Nonetheless, the news agency covers various countries under foreign policy, but mostly Arab countries such as Syria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, and Egypt amongst others. In few cases, other countries outside the middle east are covered, but again this happens when there is a relation that Iran has with the mentioned countries in those stories (FARS News Agency). Thus, it appears that the bulk of foreign policy stories revolve around Iran, its allies and enemies; as far as international relations are concerned.
Some of the stories covered include a story about Iran’s readiness to assist Nigeria in its quest of finding the abducted girls, another story on the broadening of judicial cooperation between Iran and Iraq, a story in which Russia called for the extension of relations amid Tehran and Moscow and finally a story about the ties between Kazakhstan and Iran, amongst many other stories (FARS News Agency). As it appears, most of the stories have to do with bilateral ties aimed at the political and economic wellbeing of the Iranian state and its allies; both neighboring countries and far-flung nations.
Other than “Politico-defense” stories under which foreign policy correspondence falls, there are other subjects of news coverage such as:
• Society and Culture
• Interviews and Commentaries
Under society and culture, the Fars News Agency has sections for society, culture, sport, art, and lastly lifestyle (FARS News Agency). The Sci-Tech section of news stories is also divided into a number of sub-sections. Each of the sections have several stories that are not necessarily centered on economics or foreign policy correspondence; thus, the news agency scores highly as far as reporting of other news stories is concerned. Sports, art, technology, interviews and commentaries all appear to have as numerous stories/reports as there are in the economic and political news sections. As such, the press coverage of these other aspects balance well with economic and political news.
There are news stories on art, lifestyle, sports, and so on. Under art, for instance, there are stories about movies and documentaries ranging from religious based ones to others like death announcements of renowned artists or movie legends. The most written about story in this section is the controversy that the movie “Noah” has elicited in the Islam world. One of the stories is about the impending or rather looming ban on the movie for allegedly “contravening Islamic rules on the depiction of prophets” in its storyline (FARS News Agency).
The coverage of stories is based on its importance to the people and their way of life – lifestyles which include Islam as the main religion. The FNA has no preference for a given subject over any other hence underlines its description as a news agency that covers an extensive range of subjects from the political, economic, legal and even social, among many others.
- FARS News Agency. “FARS News Agency -About Us.” 2014. FARS News Agency. 19 May 2014 http://english.farsnews.com/Aboutus.aspx
- Shahidi, Hossein. Journalism in Iran: From Mission to Profession. London: Routledge, 2007.