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Citizen Journalism and the Iranian Uprising

A Demonstration of the Power of Twitter and Facebook


In June of 2009, hundreds of thousands of Iranians, outraged by what they saw as a fraudulent election that returned hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, took to the streets to protest. As the Iranian regime cracked down, Iranians using the tools of citizen journalism - cellphones and digital cameras, and blogs, Facebook and Twitter, chronicled the protests and the brutal government response. It was a brief moment in history that nonetheless demonstrated the power of citizen journalism. Here, in chronological order, is a collection of blogposts and pictures about that moment.

As Protests Spread in Iran, Citizen Journalists Spring Into Action

Photo by Majid/Getty Images
With the Iranian regime cracking down on newspapers and TV in the wake of clashes over the country's disputed election, citizen journalists are using websites, blogs, YouTube and Twitter to get the word out about what is happening. For example, on the site Tehran 24, a blogger has posted videos and pictures taken at the frontlines of the election protests. There are images of demonstrators confronting riot police, tires being set ablaze in the middle of a Tehran street, and injured protesters.

Under Ahmadinejad, Iran's Record on Press Freedom Has Gotten Worse

Photo courtesy Tehran 24
As Iranians clash in the streets over the presidential elections, studies show the country has a poor record on freedom of the press, one that has only gotten worse under current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Under Ahmadinejad, "Newspapers have been shut for increasingly arbitrary reasons, and reporters' physical security has been compromised by threats and imprisonment," says a report by Freedom House, an advocacy group promoting democratic movements worldwide. Most reformist newspapers have been closed down by the conservative judicial authorities, the report adds.

Journalists' Group Blasts Iranian Crackdown on Media

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A journalism advocacy group that defends reporters persecuted for doing their jobs is urging the international community to not recognize the results of the Iranian presidential election "because censorship and a crackdown on journalists are preventing a democratic electoral process." Reporters Without Borders says media censorship and arrests of journalists are growing in Iran as the dispute over the election results continues.

Iranian Regime Tries to Muzzle Citizen Journalists

Photo by Getty Images
Iranian citizens angry about the presidential election have used Twitter, websites and blogs to spread the word about what is happening in their country. Now the government is trying to muzzle those voices. The Revolutionary Guard, an elite military force answering to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that Iranian websites and bloggers must remove any materials that "create tension" - or else face legal action, according to news reports.

Key Sites Where You Can Find the Latest Updates From Citizen Journalists in Iran

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There's been an explosion of blogsposts, pictures and videos sent across the web by citizen journalists covering the anti-government protests in Iran. Here are some of the key sites.

Government Threats Don't Faze Citizen Journalists in Iran

The Iranian government's attempts to muzzle citizen journalists who are using Twitter, blogs and websites to spread the news about the protests in that country don't seem to be working. Some of the most widely followed Twitterers and bloggers - including Tehran 24, Tehran Bureau and Change for Iran - appeared to be still up and running. The Revolutionary Guard, an elite military force answering to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned earlier this week that Iranian websites and bloggers must remove any materials that "create tension" - or else face legal action. The regime also barred foreign media from leaving their offices to report on the demonstrations.

Covering Iranian Protests Gets Harder and More Dangerous for Citizen Journalists

Photo courtesy Tehran 24
With the Iranian regime cracking down on protesters over the weekend, it became ever more difficult and dangerous for both citizen and mainstream journalists to get the word out about what was happening. CNN reported that at least 19 people were killed in clashes between protesters and riot police in Tehran on Saturday, while unconfirmed reports put the number as high as 150. Still, the protests appeared to be continuing. Internet postings on Twitter and Facebook said there was expected to be a vigil Monday for a young female protester, reportedly named Neda, whose death was caught on camera.

The Week in Pictures: Photos From the Iranian Demonstrations

Photo courtesy Tehran 24
The Iranian protests were the biggest story of the week, so this "Week in Pictures" gallery consists entirely of photos from those demonstrations. These pictures all come from the blog Tehran 24, which is run by one of the citizen journalists who has been covering the protests.

Seven Things the Iranian Uprising Showed Us About Citizen Journalism

Photo courtesy Tehran 24
The Iranian uprising was a watershed moment for citizen journalism. As the regime clamped down on foreign journalists, average Iranians using Twitter, websites, blogs and YouTube spread the word about what was happening in a way that mainstream news organizations could not. So what has this experience demonstrated?

A Year After Iranian Protests, Tehran Bureau Covers the Country As Best It Can

Photo by Iason Athanasiadis

One year ago, Iranian protesters outraged by an apparently fraudulent presidential election filled the streets of Tehran to vent their anger. And when the Western media was muzzled by authorities, citizen journalists used cellphones, blogs and Youtube to tell the rest of the world about what became known as the Iranian uprising. Now, one year later, the Iranian regime's brutal crackdown on the protests has seemingly succeeded. But Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, founder of a small, web-based news outlet known as Tehran Bureau, remains as committed as ever to covering Iran in all its facets, even if doing so is tougher than ever.

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