Iran: A New Media Watershed Moment?

CNN broke the mold and became one of the world’s most respected news sources during the first Persian Gulf War, as they were able to deliver amazing pictures and video of events on the ground, much more quickly than anyone else.  The tables are turning with the Iranian election and the subsequent protests.  I think we may be seeing a watershed moment in news gathering: a final, permanent switch from the old media to the new media.

Andrew Sullivan’s blog is probably the world’s leading source of news coming out of Iran right now.  Sullivan and his team have been aggregating video, twitter feeds, photos and comments from people inside and outside Iran, as is Nico Pitney’s blog on the Huffington Post.  I wrote about it yesterday and its fascinating.  The cable news networks are mostly useless, still debating Palin vs. Letterman and other useless drivel, while spending a few minutes on Iran, but not really digging deeper.  Another article in the Atlantic talks about the information disparity between people who are getting their news from blogs, Twitter and YouTube, while this exchange from Fox and Friends is pretty representative of what most mainstream media outlets are talking about on the air.

The Obama Administration and the State Department realize that the new, social media is incredibly important to the coverage and organization of the protests, prevailing on Twitter and its hosting company to stop scheduled maintenance that would have brought Twitter down.  Part of the reason this uprising is so digital is that Iran boasts the 3rd most bloggers in the world.

As I said, I think we may be at a watershed moment in media history, similar to CNN’s huge surge in popularity during the Persian Gulf War.  The information divide between what is available online, both from primary and secondary sources is so much greater and more informative than what is available on the news and in newspapers, its astounding.  Newspapers and radio have been struggling with news gathering and Iran’s  uprising might be the last straw, especially if the old media does not adapt.

Do you think this is a watershed moment in the development of new media?  What do you think about the coverage of the Iranian election?


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