Monday, Iran's president Ahmadinejad announced that there would be an investigation into Neda Agha Soltan's death.
Today, two days later, Iranian police have the answer:
"Iran's Police Chief says the mysterious death of Neda Aqa-Soltan, who became a symbol of post-election street rallies in Iran, was a 'prearranged scenario'...." (Press TV)There it is: neat, tidy, and about as good as the ayatollahs could expect.
We're also supposed to believe that Neda's murder - or, rather, all the fuss over it - is the fault of western media.
"...Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam, commander of the Iranian Police, said Wednesday that the unfortunate incident --which has been hyped and dramatized by Western media outlets--, was in fact a 'premeditated act of murder'.This really isn't anything new. Iran's leadership has been saying that terrorists and/or the CIA - anybody except their own enforcers - killed Neda Agha Soltan.
"The Iranian police chief said Arash Hejazi, a doctor who claims he tried to save Neda's life in her final moments, has fanned the flames of the western media hype...." (Press TV)
I think Press TV represents one form of traditional journalism: state-run, with an editorial policy determined by the country's rulers. The official news story I quoted from is from the English-language version of Press TV's website, and presents Neda's death in as favorable a light as possible, I'd say, in the circumstances.
Another sort of anything-but-traditional journalism is what what an op-ed piece called "Twitter journalism." (examiner.com) The author raised a legitimate point: that rumors can spread very rapidly on the Internet, and that some journalists are reporting 'tweets' on Twitter as news - without verifying the information. The op-ed concludes:
"...As a writer, it troubles me to see news sources reporting Twitter news before it has been authenticated. In our world of 24-hour information, having the freshest news seems like it's becoming more important than having the most accurate news." (examiner.com)I'm all for accuracy: but there's more involved in traditional journalism. Any item of news has to be observed or researched, and written: and then passed to at least one editor for evaluation.
If the news is, in the editor's opinion, sufficiently interesting and important to the readers, the editor will consider whether there's room in the paper. At a minimum, there will be a decision as to whether there are both time and resources enough to push the story into publication.
Editors are human. If the story conforms to what they expect or want to be so, they'll be inclined to believe it. If it doesn't, and the editor is very professional, the reporter may be required to do more research and verification. At worst, an editor will simply assume that stories which conform to his or her preconceptions are true, and those which don't, aren't.
Something like that may have happened last year, when The New York Times published a story about a letter sent by the Mayor of Paris. I'd have wanted to verify the letter, before assuming that the Mayor of Paris, France, was quite so interested in New York State politics. But, I don't work for The New York Times.
The letter was a fake. (December 22, 2008)
Yes: "Twitter journalism" can spread rumors as if they were facts. But I'd rather live in a world where incidents can be reported, in near-real-time, by people who aren't established gentlemen of the press in the American northeast, or west coast.
As far as verification is concerned: I think traditional journalism has a place in that regard.
I also think that "Twitter journalism" has a place, broadcasting facts that the traditional press isn't particularly motivated to publish.
"In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right." Ellen Goodman, American Journalist (1941-) (The Quotations Page)Related posts:
- "Ahmadinejad and Neda's Death: There's Going to be an 'Investigation' "
(June 29, 2009)
- "Protesting Election Fraud is 'Waging War Against God' - Ayatollah Khatami"
(June 28, 2009)
- "Pray for Neda: And Learn About the Real Iran"
(June 26, 2009)
- "CIA Shot Neda: Old Story, New Names"
(June 26, 2009)
- "Iran: 'Terrorists' Killed Neda Agha Soltan - Officially"
(June 24, 2009)
- "Iran: Win the Election, Lose the Country?"
(June 15, 2009)
- "Be Grateful for News Translated Into English - And Be Aware"
(March 24, 2009)
- "New York Times Prints Ersatz Letter, or All the News That's Fit to Fake"
(December 22, 2008)
- "Iran police: Neda's death 'prearranged scenario' "
Press TV (July 1, 2009) (backed by Iran's leaders)
- "The dangers of Twitter journalism"
Jennifer AlLee, examiner.com (July 1, 2009)
- "Iran reformists show fresh defiance against regime"
The Associated Press (July 1, 2009)