13 Feb 2007, 1:36am
News & Media

1 comment

Monday Edition: Pars Links

Loving Tehran in Tel Aviv
Iranian godfather of blogging Hossein Derakhshan (pictured above) was the subject of a documentary on Israeli TV. Most of it’s in Hebrew, but there are snippets of English and Persian. We’re working on an interview with him for ParsArts.com, so stay tuned.

“Mad, Mournful, Mysterious, Serene”
Here’s a new page in the chapter of irresponsible American photojournalism: Newsweek has posted a beyond-slanted photo gallery entitled Modern Life in Iran. Take a look; it’s fifteen black-and-whites of religious rallies and mosques. We’re not opposed to religion or its depictions but how’s that supposed to be representative of the entire country? The intro to the photos claims that these images are “of Iranians as they are: mad, mournful, mysterious, serene.” Way to play up stereotypes, Newsweek; perhaps Iranians wouldn’t be so mysterious if media outlets were more committed to telling the truth rather than feeding the American people what’s familiar or easy. We emailed their editors today, saying:

I’m appalled by this photo essay you’re billing “Modern Life in Iran.” Your intro states that “Iran is a nation of millions” but you show nothing but the most religious depictions of its people, reinforcing stereotypes of Iranians that are already entrenched in American minds. There’s nothing modern or representative about these photos; the grave of the Imam Khomeini has existed for many years, for instance – why show it now? And frankly, are all Iranians truly “mad, mournful, mysterious, serene”? From these photos, I’m forced to conclude that you don’t understand Iran or its people at all.

I’m beyond disappointed in your editorial choices; it seems your view of Iran is as black and white as these photos. Iranian (and American) people deserve better coverage of Iran than this photo essay. I hope you’ll reconsider how you approach your coverage in the future.

There’s strength in numbers: Please email Newsweek to let them know the way they’ve framed these photos is not acceptable.

And Now for Some Better News
The Sunday Times article This is Iran, but not as you know it is a must-read. Rageh Omaar writes: “Very little has been said that accurately describes this nation of 70m, which is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse countries in the Middle East. Despite a recorded history of more than 5,000 years, making it one of the oldest civilisations on earth, Iran remains shackled to a small number of clichés; turbaned mullahs, women wearing the black chador and antiwestern rhetoric.” (Are you listening, Newsweek?) Then Omaar covers Iranian pop entrepreneurs and the government’s censorship of journalists.

I Say Shia, You Say Sunni
NPR today started a series about Islam’s Shia-Sunni split. Iran is predominately Shia, and since most people don’t know or understand much about this religious divide, we think this is going to be some really helpful reportage.

Siamack Salari’s Video Posts
Funny man Siamack Salari is the star of these quite entertaining video monologues. He’s got a British accent and a streak of gray in his air, both of which lend him an amazing air of authority. Even when he’s talking about stealing firewood from a gas (aka “petrol”) station or his kid’s disrupting nose-picking during a Sikh ceremony. Besides being funny on video and in print, he’s also CEO of this pretty cool marketing research company, Everyday Lives.

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so scary how the media is already dehumanizing and vilifying iran — and homogenizing all iranians. we need to force our minds to stay open and help others do that, too… trashy tabloid-style reporting from newsweek doesn’t help.


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