Iranian “Correspondents” File by Twitter and YouTube

While the BBC is having its sattelite signals blocked by Iranian authorities and CNN is being openly critisized – across the Web and throughout the Twitterspere (#CNNFail) – for their lack of coverage on the fallout following the Iraninian election victory claim by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his party; information continues to stream out across the Web from online global “correspondents” (including citizen journalists).


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.

The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan poignantly sums up what this all means and why some people are saying: Tiananmen + Twitter = Tehran:

“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, their best international correspondent is directly addressing  Ahmadinejad on the status of his rival, Mir Hossein Moussavi.

The New York Times is dedicating their The Lede blog to the discussion and has correspondents and even columnists taking a look at the happenings on the ground in Tehran.

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.

About the author

Kyle Austin is marketing communications consultant, as well as the founder and managing partner at Beantown Media Ventures (BMV), a digital content and PR agency for startups. Throughout his career Kyle has provided marketing, communications, public relations and business development counsel for Fortune 500 consumer technology brands, venture-backed startups and non-profits.