Flexibility, Gray Areas and Journalism

I’ve been avidly following the developments of the Iranian election right now – and just to make it clear, I’m fully on the side of the protesters. All indicators suggest that the only violence from the protesters have been harsh words at the current regime, and that the real violence has been coming from the Basiji “militia” and pro-Ahmadinejad security forces. The latter of which have seen dissent within their own ranks regarding the ongoing chaos.

Of course, first-hand accounts of this are almost completely crowdsourced, as opposed to direct media reporting. And the reason is simple: journalism is de facto banned from Iran at present time. The only information we’ve been getting out of the country has been either the blatantly biased reports from the Iranian government, or shaky footages, pictures and frantic tweets from Iranian citizens.

The BBC, Newsweek (of which Khamenei apparently has a subscription) and all other major news sources have since been kicked out of the country or arrested outright. This is not responsible of the regime in any way, shape or form. The health of a nation can be very aptly gauged by the health of its news – at least, if the intent is to demonstrate to your citizens and the world, via transparency, that what you’re doing is, in fact, legitimate.

So what can the Iranian or Iran-based media then do to work around the informational blockade that is currently being implemented around the country? Go gonzo – go outright rogue, in fact. The key vulnerability that the Iranian media has is its geographic centralization – if their office is shut down, so are they. And because their reporters have to report to their office, it’s easy enough to note who works for whom.

So what if you remove that vulnerability? Distributed media – so long as you have access to the internet and can use The Onion Router, you have access to global publication tools and means in which to prevent yourself from A. being identified, B. being traced, and C. being caught.

I originally wrote up my idea for a distributed national and international news company as a way to bypass the materials overhead in traditional print media, but there’s a mischevious nugget of subterfuge built in – removing most of the major physical overhead also means removing major avenues of potential retaliation. If you’re paranoid enough, and know better than to leave a traceable money trail, a journalist, or even an entire editorial staff, can go to ground for months, even years at a time, amidst all but the most despotic and controlling of governments – guerrilla journalism at its finest.

What’s happening in Iran right now is an overt war – not of guns and blood, though we’ve seen plenty of that, but of ideas and ideals. On that particular battlefield, the most powerful weapon in the world palls in the face of a dedicated observer and servant of truth and reality.

All eyes are on Iran right now. Even if it is half-shrouded by tear gas and gunsmoke. Let’s hope it’ll clear up soon.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on June 22, 2009.

One Response to “Flexibility, Gray Areas and Journalism”

  1. +1 :]

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