Tag Archive for News

Foreign Media Having a Tough Time in Iran

tehranbeating

I think a big reason why we’re not hearing a lot out of Iran right now (other than Iran being a somewhat low priority over here in North America for most of the news networks) is due to what (allegedly) the government is doing to stifle communications coming out of the country, mainly shutting down land lines and cell phones, blocking various Internet sites, revoking foreign media press credentials and visas, confiscating their equipment, ordering them to stay in their homes/hotels, randomly abducting them, jamming communication satellites, and going as far as warning the Associated Press that foreign media must be prepared to evacuate the country (aside: if you legitimately won an election, why would you feel the need to control the flow of information?? Yeah, I thought so.).

Just a few articles out there regarding the foreign media in Iran:

Massive censorship accompanies Ahmadinejad “victory”
Italian TV crew attacked by police in Tehran
CNN Newsroom: Beaten in Iran
Globe & Mail freelancer detained, beaten
Foreign media say Iran blocking coverage of protests
BBC News – The Editors: Stop the blocking now
“An election without free flow of news and information is not democratic”

There are only a few reasons I can think of on why they’d want to silence and/or kick out all the foreign press (domestic too, I suppose), and none of them are good.

The Next Day

After getting a little sleep, I decided to tune into CNN to see what they were doing.

To their credit, they’ve had reports all day long and have scheduled a couple of live broadcasts in the evening dedicated to the Iran issue. So at least there’s that. I still think they can do better though. Didn’t they have live 24-hour coverage during the Gulf War and the last Iraqi invasion? The only insightful thing they did today was Fareed Zakaria’s GPS show which gave good content and context. All day, CNN was pimping the fact that they had “all the global resources of CNN” working for them, but with the exception of one live and one recorded report from their Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, the rest of their “reports” from the region were re-run throughout the day from that same things that debuted in the morning. I know it’s tough getting reports out of the region right now, but still. Are they really throwing everything they have on this?

Still though, I’m finding that Twitter is a good resource for getting a general sense of the type of chatter going on, despite its low signal-to-noise ratio (ex. Tehran did not end up burning to the ground last night despite Twitter reports to the contrary, but according to citizen videos taken on cell phones and other cameras, there were lots of things on fire in the streets).

In fact, I’ve been addicted to following http://iran.twazzup.com/ all day. This is really fascinating stuff to me, and a real-time Twitter search aggregator like like twazzup.com is the best way to follow “news” on Twitter.

Nico Pitney has been liveblogging stuff from Iran all day via his blog at The Huffington Post. This is a really great source to follow what’s going on in quasi real-time, with some context and a bit of vetting and verification.

I still don’t know much about the politics of the region, but the more I read about what’s going on now, the more my curiosity regarding whether or not the election results are real is piqued, and the more intrigued and fascinated I find myself becoming. Right now, I’m really curious about the truth and wonder if we’ll ever know? I’ll say this: if not for the Trending Topics sidebar on Twitter, I would not have been aware of what’s going on in Iran, and based on what was available on the so-called 24-hour news channels at the time I heard about it, I probably would have never known.

I’ll also admit to feeling a little worried. It seems that these circumstances (communication black out, mis-information, arrests, foreign media having equipment confiscated, detained in their buildings, or asked to leave the country, and other such things) sounds very, very familiar…

Tehran is Burning, But There’s Nothing About it on the TV Right Now

manifs-teheran-4

I must admit, I haven’t followed what’s going on in Iran, but logging into Twitter a few hours ago and seeing #IranElection and #CNNfail as a couple of the trending topics, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to see what was going on.

What’s going on is that Iran just held their elections, and there are riots going on in the streets regarding their outcome.

Like I said, I don’t know much about Iran politics so I’ll refrain from commenting on them until I learn more, but what I’m more ticked off about is that when I heard about riots, people getting arrested, buildings burning, and such via Twitter, and wanted to see what was going on on TV (this was around 2am MST my time), all I saw was this:

CNN: Larry King interviewing the hosts of American Chopper
BBC World: Some show that wasn’t the news
CBC Newsworld: News Documentary
CTV News Channel: Repeat of CTV National News

Furthermore, the top story on the front page of CNN.com was a story about the switch from analog to digital TV signals.

In other words, none of the so-called “24 hour news” media outlets were covering the developing story live.

With some declaring that the election was stolen, citizens getting arrested, foreign media getting beaten by riot police, communications black-outs, rumors that a rally for opposition leader Mousavi being a trap to capture protesters & that the AP has been told that foreign press must be prepared to leave the country, and God knows what else, you would think that at least CNN would be covering this literally breaking news story RIGHT NOW like they did 20 years ago at Tienanmen Square (which some say is what earned them their reputation for being the worldwide leader in news).

In fact, if anything, what’s going on in Tehran right now sounds like the closest thing to Tienanmen Square this century.

That said, I totally concede that this could all be blown out of proportion (remember the old game of “Telephone” and how rapidly messages can get corrupted?) but with no one covering this live except for the web teams of the news outlets (and even then, their information flow is nothing compared to what’s coming through Twitter right now), it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.

While I’m waiting for some 24 hour TV news outlet to pick this up with live coverage, I find myself glued to http://iran.twazzup.com/ and watching the real-time reports from citizens come in via Twitter.

It doesn’t matter if the reports coming from citizens are conflicting or unverified and it doesn’t matter if the news outlets covered stuff earlier in the day; there’s stuff going on RIGHT NOW and the (so-called) 24 hour news channels should be live trying to verify reports, or at least give a running tally on what’s going on. Instead, they’re all running recorded programming. Is there no one at the offices now? Just because the work day is over, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t important news happening elsewhere in the world!

Anyways, some frontline looks on what’s going on down there from people who are in the midst of things:

http://bit.ly/17SDk4 – Cell phone video from the streets
http://tr.im/oqOE – Photos from the riots
http://bit.ly/qikNS – Gun shots from the streets

And some nice articles bemoaning the lack of live coverage on TV:

Twitter Users Shame CNN For Not Covering Iran Elections, Riots
Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter for News About Iran
‘#CNNFail': Twitterverse slams network’s Iran absence
Twitter Users Make Up For CNN’s Failure in Iranian Election Coverage
Another Journalistic Shift (Again) From Iran