These haven’t been good days for Iran and, though not nearly on the same scale, it hasn’t been a good 24 hours for CNN either.
The hashtag #CNNfail is currently reverberating around the Twittersphere as the Twitterati show their disgust for CNN’s seeming inability to give coverage to the goings on in the Middle East and, in particular, the protests occurring following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory.
As Readwriteweb reported last night:
“Hours after Iranian police began clashing with tens of thousands of people in the street, the top story on CNN.com remains peoples’ confusion about the switch from analog TV signals.”
This does seem bizarre, especially for a broadcaster that seemingly prides itself on its social media savvy and numerous Twitter accounts including CNN breaking news.
“One would think, then, that when the idea began to percolate around Twitter that CNN was missing out on a major, historical story like the one developing in Iran, the network would have noted the discontent and done something about it.”
If nothing else (and surely just a mishap or oversight by the broadcaster) it is a sign that democratised media can hold traditional media to account in a very loud and forceful way.
The whole situation in Iran is too a sign of how social media is becoming a powerful force, even in places that don’t enjoy the same freedom of information that we often take for granted.
Mousavi‘s own Twitter feed has been an important tool for him to communicate to an underground movement and it will be interesting to see how this develops in the days and weeks ahead.
As the New York Times reports, social media and the technology that underpins it are a vital lifeblood for many in Iran, but one that is now under severe threat:
“The text messaging that is the nervous system of the opposition was shut down, along with universities, Web sites and newspapers the government regarded as hostile. Mr. Moussavi was not allowed a platform on Saturday and barely managed to get out a communiqué calling the election ‘a magic show.’”
We can only hope that Iran’s army of bloggers and Twitterers can continue to have their say. Social media is providing a powerful and compelling real-time feed of the latest incidents and events that, with or without the help of traditional media, will be heard.