#cnnfail and #iranelection
Somewhere in Iran, perhaps at Sharif University of Technology in the Tarasht neighborhood of Tehran a quick run from Azadi Square, a young Jack Reed manages to connect to the Twitter API across some Internet proxy to send out 140 character dispatches about the protests over the announced election results in Iran. They note which sites are blocked, the status of cellphone coverage, how to connect to the outside world and other technical details.
There are thousands of tweets about the Iran Election, tagged #iranelection for people around the world to follow. Information gets repeated rapidly, without being confirmed. A clip of a BBC report on YouTube gets widely repeated:
Unlike the Jack Reed of yore, these young citizen journalists simply wanted to write about technology and are finding their stories caught up in a larger story. As misinformation spreads, perhaps at the hands of intelligence agents also on Twitter, things get uglier and many of them protect their posts and stop sending political messages.
Meanwhile, back in the United States, CNN airs a segment where "Larry talks to the stars of American Chopper and takes you on a behind-the-scenes tour." Insomniac news junkies are outraged and #cnnfail becomes a trending topic on Twitter.
This becomes a story in and of itself. My News Junkie runs Twitter Users Shame CNN For Not Covering Iran Elections, Riots. Michael Pinto creates an image that contrasts the coverage of the events by different news outlets.
Others note that CNN International is providing better coverage. They suggest going to the edition.cnn.com website, and highlight a report by “CNN's Christiane Amanpour on the angry aftermath of the presidential election result in Iran.”
Others join in the discussion, Read Write Web asks CNN to check Twitter for News about Iran. TheLetterTwo writes about Why Traditional Media Is Failing to Understand The Web.
Hours into the protests, CNN starts providing much more in depth coverage. People that are still tweeting from Iran are adding ‘confirmed’ or ‘unconfirmed’ to their tweets, although it is hard to tell how things are being confirmed.
As I write this, evening is settling into Iran. Will it be another night of violence? Will there be a general strike? Is this the new Tiananmen Square with crack downs to follow, or is it the new Iranian Revolution? Most importantly, what can all of us learn from this about news coverage in the twenty first century?