Nico Pitney, National Editor for the Huffington Post, is “live-blogging” the events from Tehran by pulling together content and information from people on the ground and others aggregating it across the Web.
There is no doubt the Social Web has made it easier for these modern-day “correspondents” and “international editors” as they aggregate the news of the disputed elections with hashtags such as #IranElection on Twitter, and bring video and pictures to the masses through YouTube and Flickr.
“That a new information technology could be improvised for this purpose so swiftly is a sign of the times. It reveals in Iran what the Obama campaign revealed in the United States. You cannot stop people any longer. You cannot control them any longer. They can bypass your established media; they can broadcast to one another; they can organize as never before.”
To be fair to the mainstream media, we can’t blame their lack of coverage or lack of portraying actual events (as they happen in Tehran) on their closure of foreign bureaus. They’ve made an effort to cover this. While people are criticizing CNN.com, their best international correspondent is directly addressing Ahmadinejad on the status of his rival, Mir Hossein Moussavi.
This is really a case of the mainstream media being hampered by authorities that want to vastly limit the information coming out of Tehran, especially from the international free press. But they can’t cut off all communications in this information age.
Citizen journalists aren’t waiting for the mainstream media. They’re taking to every communication technology available and filling in ”pieces of the puzzle,” as Iranian authorities scramble to take down telecommunications, Internet and mobile access. Mir Hossein Moussavi , himself, is taking to Twitter to update “his people” on his location and safety.
Iran, although closed off from the world in some respects by its regime, has embraced the Internet-age. Even with talk of the death penalty for those that oppose the regime through blogs on the Web, Iran is home to the 3rd largest group of bloggers in the world. They are driving this crowd-sourced news story through small tweets of information.
So while we should still fear the death of publications like the New York Times, this event offers hope in citizen journalism and processing through some type of objective, free press outlet. The Times, itself, has been outspoken against the act of “process journalism,” but this type of process journalism is crucial to the future of democracy.