The best and worst of blogging

Let’s face it, everyone is in favour of democracy in Iran – it is a no-brainer. I have not met one person of the left or the right who supports the theocracy in Tehran. I have not come across one weblog that is opposed to democracy for Iran. Nor have I read a single article in the mainstream media which suggests that the student movement is anything but a pro-democracy movement.

It is not a left-right issue. Political point scoring on the back of other peoples’ often life or death struggles for liberty is pathetic, sickening in fact. Less pathetic, but still unpleasant, are people who try and get some reflected glory from other peoples’ struggles.

And lets be honest, you can’t browse the US blogosphere without coming across some of this – the worst of blogging.

The usual suspects are trying to use the issue to score some cheap points. Find the odd word or expression in a BBC report you don’t like and then use it as a stick to beat the Beeb with. It is oh so predictable.

Instapundit on the BBC and Iran:
I guess state broadcasting services would tend to have a natural affinity for tyranny, wouldn’t they?

Andrew Sullivan on the same topic:
How do these BBC apologists for theocratic terror live with themselves?

Now read the BBC’s report from Tehran. And yes, it is a report from Tehran. From the streets of Tehran, written by a journalist who is working in the Islamic Republic of Iran and telling the world about the events going on there.

I don’t know Jim Muir but I do know that he has got some bottle to be reporting on a democracy movement in the capital of an Islamic regime which carries people off to prison for holding press conferences.

He’s not a smartarse Law Professor sat tapping at his computer all day nor is he a former journalist who now spends his time making snide comments about other people’s work. No. Jim Muir of the BBC is a reporter in Tehran bringing us the news at some risk to himself and at great service to interested people, Iranians and others, around the world.

And so are the little-known reporters for other news agencies, newspapers and radio. I respect them a hundred times more than the sad cases who slander that they are sympathetic to the regime of the mullahs.

There are other bloggers who are annoyed at the media’s supposed failure to highlight the events in Iran yesterday. It is a complaint of every single issue campaign that ever existed – why not our story?

Reality check: Between 400 and 500 people are feared dead in Bangladesh after a ferry sank. That is a tragedy and it is news.

In Tehran a planned demonstration didn’t happen and three people got arrested. That is sad but you don’t have to be an editor to realise it is not front page news.

Jeff Jarvis suggests that the bloggers have better news judgement than the mainstream media and there are others who are claiming that yesterday shows the blogosphere are the real champions of liberty while the media don’t care.

But this is missing the point completely. Bloggers don’t have to produce a balanced news service for people who pay for a product expecting to read everything that matters.

Bloggers write about what they want and you can take it or leave it. Jeff Jarvis, Andrew Sullivan and Instpundit didn’t make a mention of the Bangladesh tragedy. But I am sure they were saddened by the news as much as the rest of us.

Their decision not to link to that news is their decision and no-one gives a toss really. But if mainstream media didn’t report the Bangladesh story then we really would have something to be worried about.

Now what really is positive about all the blogging on Iran is that links have been forged between Iranian bloggers and others outside the country. People like Jeff Jarvis deserve great credit for building those bridges which can form the basis of real solidarity. That is something useful that online communities really can do and it shows the global potential of the medium. It is political blogging at its best.

But until there are a team of blogging reporters in Teheran risking their liberty to produce real journalism (and not just linking or pasting the work of others) then I’ll stick with the professionals for news.