Sunday, June 21, 2009

Uprising? What Uprising?

Call me old fashioned, but I believe a major political crisis and confrontation that happens next door to you should be well covered. That's why I find the Turkish media's basic non-coverage (or, perhaps more accurately, anti-coverage) of what's happening in Iran to be very strange. Despite being neighbors, I think most Turks probably didn't have a clear idea of what makes Iran tick before the recent events there. But the Turkish media is certainly not helping anyone get a better handle of what's happening now.

Over at the Kamil Pasha blog, Jenny White takes a look at the Turkish press's dismal performance:
The secularist newspapers have some coverage, but it is either odd or not Turkish. Milliyet, for instance, today has a photo gallery ‘Being a Woman in Iran’ with no dates or captions, showing Iranian women marching in formation, doing sports, shooting rifles in Wild-West-like scenes, playing piano, etc. There is a short piece on yesterday’s events in Iran, but taken mainly from official Iranian sources. While the article acknowledges this, it doesn’t give that statement enough context for the reader to know that official Iranian sources provide disinformation and instead presents it as news. Radikal today completely outsourced responsibility for news reporting and instead presented two “opinions”, one by Patrick Cockburn writing for The Independent, the other by Abdulvehhab El Efendi writing for the London-based Arabic-language Kuds ül Arabi. Both pieces were originally published two days ago, so given what has happened since then, are not really evaluations of the “news”.

The most disgusting coverage has been by the Islam-leaning Zaman newspaper that has blatantly printed misinformation, calling the protestors “terrorists” and focusing exclusively on the damage they supposedly have caused. The header? Quoting Iranian television, Zaman reports that clashes between terrorist groups and the police have left 13 dead. An earlier header: Masked attackers with truncheons torch a mosque, burning people inside alive; many wounded were brought to hospitals. (Another state-run Iranian television station showed only a broken window and mentioned three wounded, but this discrepancy didn’t make it into Zaman’s article). The only other item of “news” in the article was a claim attributed to Press TV (Iranian state English-language TV) that the demonstrators had set a gas station on fire in Tehran. I picture the Zaman reporter, feet up on the coffee table, flipping channels on the TV looking for something to write that didn’t make the “terrorists” look justified. Must have been a hard task.

That’s it. That’s all the news you need to know.
You can read her full post here.

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