Sunday, June 14, 2009


As I've already mentioned, Twitter has been the go-to place for news and updates about what's happening in Iran. American media has been pretty quiet, although some outlets seem to be getting into gear now. This has been criticized by American bloggers, but at this point the Twitterverse has definitely noticed and people arepissed at cnn for its pathetic non-coverage. There's a new hashtag going around: #CNNFail. (By contrast, NPR has done enough to get the tag #NPRWin. Good job, guys.)

This raises, to me, the interesting question of who gets to determine what news is and whether people have the right to see "their" events represented on the news. Not whether they're correct to desire it--I think they are--but whether they have a right. Probably in the strictest sense they don't, but it depends somewhat on how important you think discourse, language, and media are in the real world rather than in the abstract world, and on what your opinion of news as private vs. public enterprise is. I happen to think these things are extremely important, and I would rather news be either publicly run or public in the diffuse sense (i.e. Twitter, blogs, etc.) than that it be private corporations, but the fact is that CNN is a private corporation and therefore does not technically owe anything to anybody. I think they have responsibilities and they should uphold them, but if they don't I can't sue them for it.

In this case it's largely inapplicable, since I can't imagine by what logic the current upheavals in Iran don't count as newsworthy. Still. One of the effects of the social media/citizen journalist universe's breaking down of the centralized information systems of the 20th century is that everyone is a media critic at some point. This is related to the point I made yesterday about the role of communication technology in circumventing centralized power--knowledge is power, after all--but it's not always the same. Or at least, it's not always the same kind of power.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, TV stations do owe something to the public; this debt is defined and established through the FCC licensing process. (This made more sense when TV meant broadcast and spectrum was perceived as a scarce public resource than it does in an almost unlimited cable/IP world.)