I am pleased to see that Aussie expat Craig Bellamy has put together an as it happens blog on the events in Iran in the aftermath of the disputed elections. I noted yesterday the minute by minute reportage coming from Andrew Sullivan’s blog, and The Guardian has put together an excellent news blog on this.
In Australia, the bloggers themselves can be their own worst enemies. In a generally self-congratulatory discussion on Larvatus Prodeo about what a fool Christian Kerr from The Australian was, I put up this post:
Just to take the conversation out of the realms of the Canberra cognoscenti for a moment, I can agree with all of this about the likes of Christian Kerr and David Penberthy BUT…
At the moment I think what is happening in Iran is very interesting. It confirms that social media is not just apolitical fluff and chasing around Ashton Kutcher, but may have a political significance at certain moments. At the same time, I am quite glad that there are “journos as hard men of the streets” like John Simpson, who are employed by places like the BBC, and who have a very clear understanding of how to cover events like those currently happening in places like Teheran.
I’ve been following Andrew Sullivan’s blog, among other things, on this, and his observation on the MSM and the blogosphere and MSM-bashing is interesting in relation to these events:
Some of it is overblown. The NYT’s Lede blog has been outstanding, as I’ve said for the past several days. PBS and NPR are doing important work. Many MSM reporters are risking their lives to report this story from within Iran and we bloggers should honor their courage and work. Most of the photos I’ve published come from Getty and the remarkable Olivier Laban-Mattei. Cable news is useless, but we knew that already. But the future is a fusion of MSM tradition and new media open-source news gathering, aggregating, editing, filtering.
While some responses were well thought through, others were of the stock standard “You can’t trust the mainstream media” stuff:
Terry yes, there are plenty of journalists still out there gathering primary data and reporting it, which is what I think we would all like journalists to do. However an increasing number of these ‘news’ stories consist of little more than summaries of what various anonymous people allegedly said, all written to support the journo’s evaluative opinion piece … one usually presented in the context of an argument full of assumptions about causation and implications for a particular interpretation of likely future developments.
Ken Lovell – well said. I also note that these unsourced reports are usually chockablock full of loaded epithets, of which my particular fave is ‘moderate’, closely followed by ‘reformist’. Both are usual in discussions of ‘hot spots’ in foreign correspondentdom and denote, if not actually paid agents of the CIA, at least willing Quislings.
As there is little point in being poster #60 responding to poster #40 responding to poster #25, I thought I’d reiterate a few points about what seems to be happening in Teheran:
- The West is not behind these protests. Iranians are making their own judgements, and taking matters into their own hands. Barack Obama’s foreign policy strategy in the region was premised upon the idea that he would still be dealing with Ahmadinejad after the election, who was the devil they knew. The U.S and others like Britain are basically playing catch up, and decidedly unsure on whether to support the uprising;
- Blogging, You Tube, Twitter and other social media have been central to getting the messgae out to the wider world. The idea that this is all apolitical fluff that is about following Ashton Kulcher around and “are not terms that signal any form of collective intelligence, creativity or networked socialism [but] are directives from the Central Software Committee” (to quote a recent pooh-poohing manifesto from the land of Digital Media High Theory) is actually being exposed in a sharp light on the streets of Teheran right now;
- The mainstream media are not a monolith in relation to these matters. Several people have commented on the appalling lack of coverage on the U.S. cable networks, the BBC has been great, as has The Guardian and the New York Times news blog The Lede. Moral: don’t write off media outlets that invest in serious coverage of international affairs. Bloggers are not filling this gap at this stage.