2 خرداد 1394

Bipolarity of Iranian journalism: In quest of a third alternative

23 May 2015

Translated by:Mehrdad Safa

Khabarnegaran.info – Niki Azad: For too long, Iranian journalists have been going to prison on charges of acting against national security. They are censured and censored by the government if they question, criticize or ask about the detail, for all these are deemed against national security.

This issue has resurfaced once again after Iran’s nuclear deal in Lausanne, this time surprisingly from the people out of the ruling government. The state-run television’s interview with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was labeled as ‘against national interests’ by journalism professor Ali Akbar Ghazizadeh, only because the reporter had asked Zarif about the details of the deal for a few times.

“An important principle of journalism is protection of national interests. National interests of a country are of the highest priority. I feel sorry for IRIB [the state-run television and radio] – an organization that is mainly financed by public funds and should practically protect national interests – has acted biased and puts the Foreign Minister in a position during a live televised interview that he might endanger our national interests with divulging information,” Ghazizadeh wrote in Sharq daily newspaper.

Omid Memarian, journalist, express his surprise at Ghazizadeh’s opinions: “This is completely against the principles of journalism and freedom of expression. The interviewer should put a politician in a situation to elicit answers to people’s questions, doubts and concerns. It is up to Zarif to answer or evade the question.”

“There is no place in the world where asking question is deemed against national interests,” Memarian adds.

Jila Baniyaqoob, journalist, wrote on her Facebook page: “It’s not a problem when IRIB reporter asks Zarif or another statesman a challenging question. The problem is that nobody from Ahmadinejad’s administration were ever challenged in televised interviews.”

“Phrases such as ‘national security’ and ‘national interests’ have been already used enough to suppress journalists,” she added.

Bahman Ahmadi Amouyi, a journalist who has served a 64-month prison term on charges of acting against national security, told Khabanegaran: “This view is similar to what the state says. That the judiciary should not be openly criticized. That the police force is sacred and should not be challenged.” Amouyi believes that a journalist out to criticize the ones within in the power circle. “A journalist must not become a keen supporter of those in power.” “Fearing the return of Ahmadinejad, many people are undermining the principles of journalism by overly supporting Rouhani’s administration,” Amouyi said.

For Amouyi, there has been a bipolarity – two ends – in journalism. “Journalists have been at the service of either conservatives or reformists.” “There’s a third way: professional independence of journalists,” Amouyi stressed. “But because media owners and executive directors are affiliated and funded with political circles, yet we are once again back to that bipolar journalism.”

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