Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: Local journalist Mahdieh Amiri speaks of the hardships of practicing journalism in the southern Iranian province of Bushehr. Amiri has been working as a journalist in Bushehr for years. Since 2007, she has been the editor-in-chief of a few local websites, biweekly and quarterly magazines. She is now the editor-in-chief of hamooniran.com website and Ava-ye Dashtestan biweekly.
What is media and reporters’ duty?
Are Iranian journalists used to death news?4 March 2013
Reported by:Niki azad
Translated by: Rose Arjmand
Khabarnegaran.info – Apparently these days nothing but the news of death attract the attention of the Iranian public. Do arrests, political prisoners’ concerns, and hunger strike not attract people’s attention? The news of Iranian worker blogger SattarBeheshti’s death received much publicity. Should people die so that their effort would be appreciated?
Hoping society becomes indifferent to death and murder
Should we blame the media or the society for such indifferent reaction to some subjects of the news?
HosseinShahidi, Iran journalism lecturer believes: “media forms the public opinion, however, it is not the only and the most important element in forming the public opinion. Schools, neighbourhoods, friends, family, colleagues, cultural environment, religious foundations are among other elements that also form the public opinion.”
Shahidi adds: “the news of 23-year-old medical student who was gang raped and killed on a bus in Delhi enjoyed a significant reflection among Indian women. Or also the massacre in an American school is another example that raised concerns over gun policies in the US. These are two murder news that received much publicity in other countries. In case of Iran, it is very hopeful that after 30 years of violence, Iranians do show reaction to such news.”
SattarBeheshti’s death was a political death. However, it was more special than HalehSahabi and HadiSaber’s death because he was not coming from a high brow family.
Society is the main defendant; Media does main duty
SasanAghayi does not totally agree with Shahidi, saying: “there have not been any research done to estimate the “level of society sensibility” towards death news. Yet the general understanding of rape, armed theft, burglary, natural disaster and such news has been demoted. Undoubtedly, the media is responsible for such behaviour; yet is media guilty for covering such news? I blamed the society for ‘reproducing’ violence continuously.”
He continues: “I mean ‘death’ does not have the same impact on the society as it had before. Look at Kuwaitis’ reaction to news of political prisoners in their countries; or look at the Indian woman’s rape news and the reaction Indians showed to the matter. Shortly, I believe the Iranian society is dead. You cannot expect ‘sensibility’ from dead entity, either humans or animals, laptop batteries or trees. Media should not be blamed for it.”
Media tricks diminishes human sensibility
The media style and their choice of words to report news have a share in making people less sensible about the death and disaster news namely political prisoners and political deaths.
HosseinShahidi says: “journalists have a specialty, however, having a specialty in disaster news in not reasonable. The standard desks of society, politics and law should be good enough to cover such news. Look what is happening in Iraq. Death and murder news are printed in middle pages and no longer enjoy the high priority they had before. Still the choiceof words is very important in reporting such news. Sometimes the media takes advantage of its role and abuses this option by repeating them over and over again.
No newspaper can stop news from becoming boring
SasanAghayi, though, has a different opinion: “I believe the Iranian society is dead. I find it dangerous that our society doesn’t show reaction to news of arrests and execution. When a society faces unsolved and abandoned political and social problems, they reached such a level of indifference. I don’t think any democratic and developed society neglect people’s need and problems. Democracy is created to fulfil their needs.”
Aghayisays that even the worst regimes in the world, like North Korea, do not produce the execution and arrest as much as us. Iran has a very special capacity that such news is updated on daily basis. “Education plays an important role in journalism and on top of that we may add the experience of working under pressure and censorship for Iranian journalists. We are so very experienced in it that we can train Saudi and North Korean journalist about working under pressure.” He went on to add: “let’s say there is a shooting in the US every week. We cannot expect people to show shocked reaction to it every week.” SasanAghayi stated: “we need to define new desks for such news; namely human rights, civil law, and women issues. This is necessary in Iranian journalism. Here I raise a question: can Iranian journalists write about human rights while Iran is known as the second largest prisoner for journalists?”
Shahidi says: “if media doesn’t cover incidents comprehensively and look for excitement rather than raising people’s awareness, they will get nowhere but people’s indifference to news.
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad: How is life for Iranian journalists after prison? Does their attitude toward their journalism – the profession that put them in jail – change? Are they more conservative than before? Or bolder?
Khabarnegaran – Niki Azad: He has been put in jail three times for his journalist writing, though he says that jail has not made him feel disappointed with the profession of journalism.