FP On How Media Misread Tehran

Foreign Policy has an interesting package of stories reflecting on the media coverage of last year’s elections in Iran, including “What We Got Right,” by the New York Times’s Nazila Fathi and “What We Got Wrong,” by Reza Aslan, author and Daily Beast contributor.

From the intro to the package:

When Iranians took to the streets the day after they cast their ballots for president, the Western media was presented with a sweeping, dramatic story…

It was a story that seemed to write itself. But it was also a story that the West — and the American media in particular — was destined to get wrong in ways both large and small.

Journalists faced the proverbial perfect storm of obstacles in producing calm, reasonable reporting about the events in Iran. Soon after the election, the Iranian government revoked all the press passes of visiting foreign reporters, forcing them to leave the country immediately. Some journalists with permanent residences in Tehran were told not to leave their offices, while others were arrested seemingly at random. The government slowed Internet access to a crawl and shut down the country’s cell phone and telephone networks for long stretches at a time. Meanwhile, audiences in Washington have proven to be less receptive to hearing nuances of Iran’s internal debates, as the tense nuclear standoff between Ahmadinejad and the West has dominated all discussion, often drowning out street-level stories about the long-term viability of the Green Movement or the social and cultural aftermath of the past year’s brutal crackdown.

Also interesting: Golnaz Esfandiari, a senior correspondent with Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, writes that while “the Western media certainly never tired of claiming that Iranians used Twitter to organize and coordinate their protests,” “there was no Twitter Revolution inside Iran,” in a piece titled, “The Twitter Devolution.”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.