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CNA proposes Commonwealth news agencies alliance
2005-02-24 10:11:04

Sydney, Feb 24 (CNA) -- Cyprus News Agency has proposed an alliance of national news agencies within the Commonwealth.

Speaking today at a conference of the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU) in Sydney, Australia, CNA chief editor George Penintaex said the alliance would provide a forum for contact and cooperation, and also for exchange of information, experience and know-how among its members.

This, he told colleagues from the major print media of Commonwealth countries, would benefit their organisations, which would receive better and expanded services from the news agencies to which they subscribe.

Penintaex said CNA would be happy to host the inaugural session in Cyprus and to work together with the CPU in organising the event, should the idea of a Commonwealth news agencies alliance be accepted.

In his presentation on ''National News Agencies and National Identity'', Penintaex elaborated on the role played today by national news agencies such as CNA.

He said the news output of a national news agency ''is characteristically comprehensive with regard to covering all the constituencies of the country.'' By providing national and local news to the international news agencies and other major media, a national news agency ''can influence the international representation of the nation,'' he added.

He recalled a UNESCO workshop in Amman had looked at the status of news agencies and decided that ''their future constituted a proper subject of general public concern, as most countries had seen fit to have a national news agency and newly formed ones also quickly saw the need for one,'' acknowledging that they were important sources of news for political, economic and financial institutions.

At the same time, he underlined the need for national news agencies to safeguard their independence from government control and the influence of any political, partisan, economic or other grouping, and to uphold the values of truthful, unbiased and objective reporting.

Even though national news agencies received public funding, there were various constitutional and legal provisions defining such relationships and safeguarding editorial independence, he noted.

A further presentation on the role of national news agencies was made by the chief editor of the Australian Associated Press Tony Gillis, who later hosted his Cypriot colleague at the agency's offices in Sydney and expressed support for the idea to create an alliance of news agencies operating in Commonwealth countries.

The proposal is expected to be discussed by the executive body of the CPU, under whose aegis the alliance would operate.

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