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The launch of the new Outlook Afghanistan internet-based news service is an important step for the Afghanistan Group of Newspapers. We also believe that it is significant in the progress of our country. Our Group is proud to be part of the process of developing a democratic Afghanistan. After three decades of conflict and power struggles, only freedom of expression offers the people of Afghanistan a sense of having a stake in governing this country. Every day of the week we in the Afghanistan Group work to consolidate this hard-won freedom and build the popular foundation of Afghan democracy.
Our approach in the Afghanistan Group is informed by experience of the role of media in development internationally and in the history of our country. The hallmark of our publications is that they are independent, professional, informed by a national vision and globally connected.
People living in established democracies take it for granted that the media serve as the fourth pillar of state. Protection of freedom of expression is fundamental to the constitution of countries like the United States. There the media hold democratic politicians accountable. They inform citizens and politicians alike and thrive on political debate, whether at local or national level. Any professional journalist has studied the famous cases in which the printed word has been the downfall of rulers who had become contemptuous of their people and their laws.
Afghans have experienced every form of tyranny and take none of these freedoms for granted. As we make our difficult transitions, struggling for security and political stability, Afghanistan needs vibrant media more than ever before. But in its history of 130 years, the print media in the country mostly remained under firm government control. Successive narrowly based regimes used media as a mouthpiece, offering citizenry a distorted, propagandist view of reality. The Taliban regime for its part strangled the media, destroying infrastructure, burning archives, banning photography and stopping woman journalists from working. Afghans will not tolerate a return to those days and nurturing independent media is fundamental to the struggle for peace.
Superficially there has been rapid progress, with hundreds of newspapers, periodicals and magazines born since 2001. But most of them are amateurish, run on a shoestring and lack the capacity to engage in real news-gathering. Even more worryingly, many of the new media organs are owned by power brokers and government figures, and so are tied to the new governing elites.
Our group's flagship publication is the Daily Outlook Afghanistan, the country's pioneering English language publication. After a period of consultation, we launched it to fill an important niche in the market. On the one hand a new generation of Afghans has a global perspective and is comfortable inter-acting with the world through English. Young men and women in Kabul University and the provinces and Afghans in international organizations and business are empowered by their use of English. Meanwhile, foreigners working in Afghanistan need access to up to date information on public affairs, reconstruction and security but do not necessarily trust the government version as the last word on anything important. The Daily Outlook aims to be the daily newspaper on the desk of all those who want to read on Afghanistan in English.
The newspaper covers national, regional and international developments with daily editorials and articles on important issues. On Sundays, the paper publishes an additional «Weekend Special» covering political, health, science, politics, culture, cross-cutting issues like gender, HIV/AIDS, environment, youth affairs, sports and showbiz. We have received appreciation from friends in the United Nations, diplomatic missions, educational institutions, civil society and even government. We are delighted that our pages offer a show case for Afghan democratic opinion. Astute observers of the Afghan scene, trying to keep up with the public debate, look first to the Daily Outlook. Our paper has offered some of the hardest hitting coverage of corruption, electoral fraud, security blunders, regional diplomacy and the realities of governance.
The Afghanistan Group also publishes in Pashto and Dari. It launched "the Daily Afghanistan" on September 06, 2006. This paper has built on the Daily Outlook's reputation for professionalism and has achieved distinction with the biggest circulation of any daily newspaper in the country. We are proud to have won the trust of readers in both English and the national languages.
Not only do our publications provide the best news coverage available to an Afghan readership, we have developed a truly national distribution network, to ensure access for readers across the country. Our network distributes across Kabul and the provinces of Afghanistan. Our bureau offices operate in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, in the eastern city of Jalalabad and in historic Ghazni. We are continuously working to expand our news-gathering and distribution networks throughout Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Group of Newspaper