Tweeting in Tehran

By , 16 June, 2009, No Comment

The fascinating thing about the media wars is that all sides see reality as supporting their cause. Take the election/protest story coming out of Iran this week. New media activists are overjoyed to see Twitter playing such a key role in mobilizing people and getting words and images from the protests out to the rest of the world. But, as a BBC reporter pointed out to me this week, the protesters are most concerned with making sure their efforts get on big outfits like the Beeb.


Here’s an obvious question no one is asking: how many new media startups actually HAVE staff reporters out there covering this? As far as I can tell, zero. Yet instead of admitting that they don’t have the institutional strength required to operate in places like Tehran, the bloggers are harping on the MSM for THEIR lack of coverage. It’s been thin, admittedly, but so far the outfits doing seriously awesome work on this–the NYTimes and the Atlantic–are seriously mainstream, despite Andrew Sullivan’s attempts to cast himself as an upstart. Sullivan, to his credit, has backed down from his rage.

Unfortunately, as Megan McArdle admits, the further we go into the media apocalypse, the harder it will get for even big institutions to support foreign bureaus. Increasingly, “there are too few journalists in too few places to cover a big story like this.” If we can’t be on the ground to cover stories like this, haven’t we failed at our most essential mission?
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