Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
Its history and activities, 2007
The Islamic Republic News Agency, or IRNA, is the official news agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is government-funded and controlled under the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) was established in 1934 by the Foreign Ministry of Iran as the country's official national news outlet. For the next six years it operated under the Iranian Foreign Ministry working to disseminate national and international news. Pars Agency, as it was then known, published a bulletin twice daily in French and Persian which it circulated among government officials, international news agencies in Tehran and the local press. In May 1940, the General Propaganda (Tablighat) Department was founded and the agency then became an affiliate of the department. Agence France Press (AFP) was the first international news agency whose reports Pars Agency used. Gradually, the Iranian news agency expanded its sources of news stories to include those of Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI). An agreement with the Anatolia News Agency of Turkey further expanded the agency's news outlets to countries worldwide.
It 1954 the Pars Agency began recruiting better-educated people thereby improving its professional services while continuing to avail of dispatches of international news agencies. It also went on air with radio broadcasts of international news which it translated into Persian and offered to subscribers locally. Expanding further in news coverage, it operated under the supervision of various state offices and ministries such as the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephones, Office of the Prime Minister and the Labor Ministry until 1947. In 1957, the General Department of Tablighat fell under the supervision of the Publications Department of Tehran Radio as an independent department. In 1963 the Information Ministry was created and activities of Pars Agency were brought under this ministry. Its name was changed to `Pars News Agency, or PANA, which then began operating around the clock. In July 1975 a bill was passed by the country's legislature which established the Ministry of Information and Tourism and changed the status of Pars News Agency to a joint public stock with capital assets of about 300 million Rials. It then became an affiliate of the new ministry.
After the Iranian Revolution in February 1979, the Revolutionary Council (Shawra-ye-Enqelab), in June 1979, renamed the Ministry of Information and Tourism to the National Guidance Ministry (or Ministry of National Guidance). This was followed in December, 1981 by a bill passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) changing the name of the country's official news agency from Pars News Agency to Islamic Republic News Agency.
IRNA's professional activities are aimed at securing Iranian national interests. Efforts of management and professional personnel of IRNA are thus focused on achieving higher ground each day in fulfillment of its stated goal. The organization functions as the "mother source of information dissemination" within the country, feeding its authorities, nationals and various publications with various types of news, bulletins, research works, opinion polls and stories of general interest through its various telex lines. It also provides channels for online foreign dispatches and photographs around the clock. IRNA's external services include those rendered to leading international news agencies in accordance with contracts signed with them, active membership in international news clubs, up-to-date news stories on the country supplied internationally through its International News Line, and an active presence in the Internet through its Persian, English and Arabic websites. For its services, IRNA is aided by a professional core of executive and administrative staff who work inside and outside the country in its various local, regional and overseas branches.
IRNA's administrative efforts are focused on an expansion of its international news branches around the globe. Branches ostensibly are given the task of producing news items or selecting from those produced by various news agencies, translating and disseminating them through its various news lines. Its management is also constantly on the look-out for possible new ways of expanding its level of news dissemination in qualitative and quantitative terms. It also seeks to expand its level of cooperation with various foreign news agencies and corporations. Personnel of IRNA branches abroad are currently in charge of monitoring their respective countries' radio, television, satellite and Internet networks to bring out news items not already found in news dispatches. The offices also organize regional news dissemination corporations with IRNA as a member, as well as monitor and program activities of its branches.
IRNA's editorial board is made up of eight main news desks:
Europe and America Desk
Africa and Middle East Desk
Indian Peninsula and Central Asia Desk
English News Desk: This desk is in charge of sending the most important news gathered from IRNA's various lines, as well as those items acquired through various IRNA cooperation contracts with various news agencies.
Arabic News Desk: The activities of this desk are similar with the English News Desk.
Persian Language International News Desk: Staff of this desk are assigned the task of surveying news items dispatched from various IRNA news lines in the country and selecting those which most likely interest foreign readers. These are then rewritten as new items with information that are not included as being of no general importance to Iranian readers inside the country added and those that need revision altered.
Foreign News Desk: This desk comprises three monitoring desks in charge of surveying the various foreign radio, television, satellite, Internet and printed media items and selecting the news items that IRNA is interested in. This organization works on a 24-hour basis to record and archive programs of many radio and satellite TV stations.
IRNA has divided its activities into news regions around the world:
Middle East and Africa Region - The head office is based in Beirut, Lebanon. It has branch offices in Ankara, Damascus, Abu Dhabai, Amman and Kuwait. All six offices cover news stories in the entire Middle East and Africa region.
Europe and America Region - The head office is based in London, England. It has branch offices in Bonn, Vienna, Paris, Rome, Sarajevo, Athens, Madrid, New York and Washington. All 10 offices cover news items pertaining to Europe and the North, Central and South American continents.
Asia-Pacific Region - The head office of this region is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It has branch offices in Tokyo, Beijing, Islamabad, Alma Ata, Dushanbe and Ashkhabad. All seven offices cover news stories from Asia and the Oceania region.
IRNA has spent tremendous efforts to convince news agencies of Third World countries to actively work within the framework of regional news agencies. The establishment of pools of news agencies, many of which have already gained international prestige, is thus indebted to the pioneering efforts of IRNA. Multinational and regional news pools therefore have the right to vote in international gatherings of news agencies and thus play the essential and critical role of safeguarding Third World interests in such venues. IRNA is currently a member of the following news pools:
International Islamic News Agency (IINA)
Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA)
Non-Aligned News Agencies Pool (NANAP)
OPEC News Agency (OPECNA)
Association of Caspian Sea News Agencies (ACSNA)
ECO News Agencies (ECONA)
IRNA currently publishes seven dailies and periodicals. Among these periodicals is the Persian-language Iran newspaper which is vastly popular among middle class Iranians.
Al-Vefaq is one of two Arabic-language dailies.
Iran Daily is the country's third English newspaper.
Iran Varzeshi is an Iranian daily specializing on local and foreign sports news coverage.
Iran Javan has gained unprecedented popularity among the youth.
Iran-e Saal provides a yearly report of the country's most outstanding events.
Iran Sepid, the only one of its kind in the Middle East, is published in the Braille language for visually-impaired Iranians.
Iran Azin is IRNA's monthly on interior design.
After conducting a series of research work on the country's need for a high-level academic institution that would provide training in news reporting and various fields of news dissemination, and after obtaining a permit from the Ministry of Sciences, Research and Technology, IRNA established the School of Media Studies (News College). Its courses lead to a university degree major in any of the four now offered by the college:
News Reporting, at the BA level (Bachelor of Arts)
News Translation (English), at the BA level
News Translation (Arabic), at the BA level
Photojournalism, at the AA level (Associate in Arts)
IRNA School of Media Studies holds short-term courses and trainings in various fields such as Editing, Journalism, Feature Writing, Photojournalism and Reporting as well as the above mentioned long-term courses.