Iran Front Page (IFP) was officially launched at a gathering dubbed Iranian Media and the International Community in Tehran late Wednesday on August 20, 2014. Initially the content of iranfrontpage.com is in English, but the website will eventually translate select news stories, analyses and articles from the Iranian pressinto a few widely-spoken languages.
Mahmoud Askarieh, the founder and manager of Iran Front Page, organized the gathering which was held at the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia. At the start of the get-together at 7 p.m. refreshments were provided. The event ended at 11 p.m. after dinner was served at Rayzan Conference Hall of the center.
Dozens of veteran journalists and newspaper chiefs including Hojjat al-Islam Seyyed Mahmoud Doaei, the manager of Ettela’at which is the country’s oldest daily, editors, reporters, writers and translators attended the event. Also present was Dr. Hossein Entezami, who represents the managing editors of the Iranian publications at the Press Supervisory Board. He has also served as deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance for media affairs ever since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013.
A number of retired diplomats, some of them school friends of the IFP manager, Dr. Mohammad Rajabi, the head of the Library of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Kazem Mousavi Bojnourdi, the founder and director of the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, and some private firm managers and entrepreneurs were also on hand for the ceremony.
The official gathering which was hosted by Mohammad Reza Shahidifard, a noted Iranian TV presenter, got underway at 8:30 p.m. when the national anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran was played. That was followed by recitation of Az-Zumar Surah of the holy Koran that among other things says: “Give good tidings to My creatures, those who hear the word and follow the best of it.”
Afterward, Mahmoud Askarieh welcomed the guests and delivered a speech which featured a brief history of his journalistic background. He explained the reasons why he organized the event.
He said the invitation letters he had sent to the guests were the first distinguishing feature of the gathering. “My dear guests were probably surprised when they set their eyes on the signature of a single journalist rather than the logos of several state institutions or private firms on the invitation card. I am surprised too that you accepted my invitation. I thank you for taking the risk to come here. I am sure some of those who were invited have not showed up because they were unable to make sure that such an event was being held.
“I humbly welcome all of you including the principlists, reformists and moderates. I would also like to welcome all my colleagues who accepted my invitation and thus helped this gathering become a reality.
“Let me also thank the representatives of foreign media who are here tonight. I hope from now on we will be able to have closer interaction with them in an atmosphere which is free of any concerns.”
Mahmoud Askarieh also thanked Dr. Entezami for being there after attending a mosque service for a relative of his who had passed away and for accepting to address the gathering as a member of the Media Supervisory Board.
“To organize this gathering, I demanded no financial assistance from the Press Department of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and received none. I do appreciate the presence of Mr. Entezami at this meeting though, and thank him for his moral support and for accepting to deliver a speech here,” the IFP manager said.
Dr. Entezami’s speech which focused on the role of media diplomacy in the world community drew the undivided attention of the audience. He described the launch of Iran Front Page as a creative necessity.
The next speaker was Sabah Zanganeh, who is widely known across the country as a moderate individual and a veteran player on cultural, media and diplomatic fronts. In his speech Mr. Zanganeh, who is now retired, focused on the correlation between culture and politics and called the theme of the gathering as important. He offered congratulations to Mr. Askarieh on the launch of IFP and said the absence of such a medium was greatly felt in the country.
Afterward, Dr. Mehdi Forghani a veteran journalist and prominent journalism professor at Tehran’s Allameh Tabatabai University, took the microphone and delivered a speech which among other things dealt with ethics in media. He said the launch of a magazine with a similar content in Farsi in the 1990s by Mr. Askarieh was a great move and praised the high levels of creativity and ambition associated with Iran Front Page.
Eventually the host once again called upon Mahmoud Askarieh to come onto the stage and officially launch Iran Front Page.
Mr. Askarieh briefly elaborated on what motivated him to launch the website and asked those in attendance to personally go to the news and analysis website in the days to come and see its content for themselves.
The IFP manager also asked participants to overlook the shortcomings that go with the territory, but called on them to let him know about serious faults and their critical comments.
A translated version of the speeches delivered by Dr. Entezami, Mr. Sabah Zanganeh, and Dr. Forghani will appear on iranfrontpage.com come Sunday through Tuesday (August 24 – 26).
Here is a collection of the photos taken at the event: