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.
Will Green Movement news websites survive26 September 2013
Translated by:Mehrdad Safa
Khabarnegaran.info-Niki Azad-sara mohseni: After the disputed Iranian presidential election of 2009, a number of news websites were launched to specifically cover the news on the Green Movement’s street protests, intimidation against opposition groups, and imprisonment of political and human rights activists.
Once the street protests ebbed away after about nine months, these so-called Green Movement websites continued to report on the status of political prisoners and the deterioration of economic and political situation.
However, after President Rouhani’s election in 2013, with whom reformists are sympathetic, there is seemingly a notable shift in the policy of these websites which are affiliated with reformists. This report closely scrutinizes the performance of two of the most distinguished Green websites, namely Kaleme and Jaras by doing a comparative content analysis in the period before and after Iranian presidential election of 2013.
Political prisoners and opposition leaders house arrest
A content analysis of Kaleme and Jaras websites shows that their news coverage of political prisoners and house arrest of three prominent opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karoubi has been scaled down this year.
However, a more detailed categorical comparative analysis indicates that the fall is more related to the news on political prisoners. In fact, the news coverage of opposition leaders’ house arrest has increased in Jaras and remained almost unchanged in Kaleme. Instead, prayers and invocation relating to political reporters have seen an increase this year.
“It seems that you have not performed a careful statistical study,” a senior editor of Kaleme told us regarding the scaled down news coverage of political prisoners after President Rouhani’s election. “Quantitatively speaking, nothing meaningful has happened. Even if it happened, it wouldn’t reflect any changes in policies.” Changes in the scale of news coverage of political prisoners may also be because of the status quo of political prisoners at a given time, he said.
News coverage out of interest
“These websites acts in the political interests of their faction and gives political prisoners the coverage with a regard to their interests,” an independent journalist told us.
“There has been a sharp fall in the news coverage of political prisoners, both quantitatively and quantitatively speaking,” he believes. “Prayers and invocation are topics that draws far less public attention.”
Will Green Movement websites shut down?
The Green Movement websites were launched in a heightened security state of post-election June 2009. But how they will transform, if they can, under the new circumstances? What are their red lines for the news coverage of political prisoners? Do they selectively report on a special group of political groups?
“Our website has not been launched for an emergency state, so that it will shut down after the emergency state is lifted,” said a senior editor of Kaleme.
However, an experienced journalist who wanted to remain anonymous believes that they will shut down once the heightened security state is lessened down. “Even if you take a look at their articles today, you will find nothing of much importance. They are full of prayers and heavily biased analyses and their losing their visitors. Many of them impose their self-constructed red lines in the news coverage of political prisoners.”
Our study also reveals that Jaras uses more alternative sources and gives a wider coverage of political prisoners compared to Kaleme. For instance, Jaras’s news coverage of religious minorities such as Baha’is and Christian converts are far greater than Kaleme’s. Also, Jaras regularly quotes Mokrian, a news website on Kurdish minorities, while Kaleme do not use it as a source.
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.