Since Iran held its presidential election June 12, early accusations of vote-rigging have given way to large-scale protests that many are calling a direct challenge to Iran's system of government. Our community has tracked the developments in Iran day by day, comparing news stories and looking for the best journalism on this now global event. Last week's top stories suggest that even as the Iranian government violently cracked down on protesters and expelled many foreign reporters, news coverage remained timely and increasingly journalists are providing more context on the unrest in the country.
Understanding the Actors
Several news organizations, some lacking feet on the ground to report breaking news, profiled the actors in the Iranian election aftermath. The New Yorker ran a special report (NT review) on the plain-clothes Basij militias, loyal to Iran's leadership, who have clashed with protesters in Tehran. Their role as a civilian paramilitary force can be traced back to the 1979 Revolution, the magazine reported.
In 'In Iran, an Iron Cleric, now blinking,' (NT review) the New York Times analyzed Ayatollah Ali Khameini's backpedaling on early election results -- Khameini, the Times said, "may have opened a serious fissure in the face of Islamic rule, one that may prove impossible to patch over." Karim Sadjadpour, a leading Iran analyst, said as much in an interview (NT review) with the Council on Foreign Relations: "It's very difficult to see how the status quo ante could prevail no matter what happens," he told CFR.
The Guardian reported (NT review) less hopeful views from the street on Monday, as the arrest, beating and killing of protesters appeared to have disrupted rallies across Tehran. Breaking news from the scene of anti-government demonstrations was otherwise scarce among our top stories.
The Use of Social Media
The Iranian opposition's use of social networks to communicate and coordinate efforts also remained a major subtext of the events in Iran. Atlantic Monthly blogger Andrew Sullivan has emerged as one of the leading Western journalists covering Iran from afar on his blog the Daily Dish. Last week he ran what amounted to an apologia (NT review) of his 'round the clock blogging, in which he praised the Iranian opposition for creating a "whole new paradigm for world politics" through their use of these technologies:
As Iranians continue their demands for a freer, more democratic society, we'll be tracking the developments here on NewsTrust. Check out our Iran topic page for updates, and keep submitting great stories on Iran.
-- Derek Hawkins, with Fabrice Florin, Kaizar Campwala and Joey Baker