All A-Twitter in Iran

There are two revolutions going on in Iran. A hopeful political one that is very much in the news. And a side revolution, as well: in journalism about the revolution, the very news that is describing the political unrest surrounding the recent election. Of the latter, more will come to pass, and better experts will comment on it. On the latter, however, the world is witnessing an evolving phenomenon regarding news reporting.

Increasingly, major news outlets — TV and newspapers — are relying on amateur individuals who are photographing and commenting about unfolding events that the traditional press cannot cover. Recall the tragedy at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University when students’ phone camera depictions of the shootings made it onto CNN before journalists could even get to the site of the breaking news. At the Scooter Libby trial, bloggers were provided 10 of the 100 press seats by the court. In the last few days, the world has been informed about the Iranian election protests largely on the basis of twittering by people who were part of the news they reported. Our State Department asked Twitter for its help — a social networking site doing what our government and media could not do! Even the ayatollah is Tweeting, according to news reports. Combined with cell phone text messaging, Twittered news reports are going around the world as it happens.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asks whether Facebook and Flickr and Twitter are the Iranians’ virtual mosques and muezzins — providing the democratization of national discourse. In his book We’re All Journalists Now, Scott Gant described the inevitable transformation of the press in the internet age. In what is transpiring today in Iran we are witnessing that phenomenon, one which will change the world of information sharing.

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