P.K. Abdul Ghafour, Arab News
JEDDAH, — The International Islamic News Agency (IINA), the media wing of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), will soon undergo a major face-lift in order to play an effective role in highlighting Muslim causes and bolstering Islamic unity.
“We have appointed a specialized company to restructure IINA and have begun the long process of rebuilding the agency,” OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told Arab News.
The IINA restructuring is part of a 10-year action plan approved by the emergency Islamic summit in Makkah, he added.
Earlier, addressing a sendoff given to former IINA Director General Abdul Wahab Kashif, the OIC chief commended the support of Saudi Arabia and other OIC countries to the agency. He noted Kashif’s role in establishing IINA and steering the agency through difficult times.
Erdem Kok, who replaces Kashif, spelled out his plan to strengthen IINA, matching international standards. “We have a three-phase strategy to develop IINA. First, restructuring; second, improving news production; and third, expanding to visual coverage,” he told Arab News.
Former brand and marketing director of Turkey’s Cihan news agency, Kok looked bullish in taking up the challenging job. He wanted to change the internal system to have a sound foundation to build on.
Kok spoke about the challenges in the fast-developing news industry and stressed the need to adopting new strategies to cope with modern developments. “We are planning to have a faster news production and distribution system,” he added.
The new IINA chief intends to expand cooperation with news agencies in OIC member states. “We will provide a common platform for these agencies to work together to protect the interests of Muslim countries,” he said, adding that IINA will recruit qualified journalists as part of the restructuring plan.
Kok said his agency would focus more on analytical reports and feature stories rather than breaking news. “We’ll prepare analytical reports on various events in the Muslim world and supply them to news agencies in OIC countries,” he said.
At present IINA distributes news and reports in Arabic, English and French to newspapers, radios and televisions in different parts of the world. The Qatar News Agency carries IINA news to at least 700 subscribers in the Arab world, Europe and America. IINA also sends its news bulletins by email to news agencies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia and the Central Asian countries.
Kashif, who worked as IINA director for 20 years, explained the difficulties he had to face in running the agency. Ezzat Mufti, assistant OIC secretary-general for political affairs, and Muhammad Subaihi, director general of Islamic States Broadcasting Organization (ISBO), commended Kashif’s efforts to develop the news agency.
Saudi Arabia presented a paper at the last meeting of the OIC information ministers in Jeddah on strengthening IINA and ISBO and the conference approved the proposal. Kok’s appointment was within the framework of IINA’s restructuring process.
IINA was established in 1972 with the aim of enhancing and preserving Islamic cultural heritage and strengthening ties among Muslims all over the world.
5 May 2008