Mark Wright

MA International Relations: Global Security & Development, University of Plymouth (UK)

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Is the current "lack of" media coverage of Iran linked to sanctions imposed on Iran or a decrease in a threat?

From October 2011 to May 2012, Iran was at the forefront of media discussion regarding its nuclear program and IAEA investigation. During this time, western governments battled to gain control of Iran's ambitions and with the help of the media coverage, succeeded in gaining some momentum that eventually manifested into imposing sanctions to control Iran's finances.
Its now September 2012, and with all of the fierce media representation and sanctions, Iran has disappeared off the media radar. Noam Chomsky once said that if the government of a country wants something done, use the media. Is this the case with Iran? The "lack of" coverage, all be the situation in Syria, seems unjust for a country that the media claimed could cause a global problem and even war. Has the media just forgot about the situation or has Noam's theory of propaganda just scored another point. In my opinion, the lack of media coverage and lack of government talk is linked but in a deeper way than we think. Is a covert media blackout part of the process to de-sensitize the issue with Iran until someone acts or are they trying to relax the situation by not feeding Iran with the fear generated by biased media coverage?
In light of recent developments between Israel and Iran I'm encouraging this debate to see what the TED community has to offer.

  • Sep 6 2012: Is it possible that we don't hear much about Iran these days because there is not much to cover? If there are no major development then the media focuses on other events like Syria. I also think that Iran events continue to be covered by independent media that focus on Middle East?
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      Sep 6 2012: But the question of mass coverage is at stake. Not everyone tunes in to independent media and thus the margin of the population that is aware of the situation is narrow. A smart saying that i heard from my old lecturer at university once was "we cover a subject till the problem is solved or we create a subject from a problem that has yet to be solved". Does this not apply to a state that to this day has neither confirmed or denied its actions or at least provided evidence for either?
      Thanks Zdenek
      • Sep 6 2012: Hi Mark, I think UN and individual states do keep track of what is happening or not happening with Iran, we just don't see it in the main outlet news.

        Given that we have hundreds of problems around the world that sometime take decades to solve there is just not enough airtime to cover it all every day?

        I do agree with you that media coverage is problematic esp. given it is usually concerned with sensationalist news rather than news that really matter. They are also usually controlled by certain interest groups with questionable ethics around reporting independently ;)

        That is why I think growing number of people turn to other types of online media where they choose topic of interest. That does not mean we should not keep eye on Iran for some new development.

  • Sep 23 2012: Stories that are slow to progress don't hold many readers'/viewers' attention, so the media move on to something else until there are new developments, it's that simple. The media report whatever (they think) attracts the most readers/viewers because then they maximize advertising revenue, of course smaller media are limited to report what they have access to, they can't just send a crew to Iran because that costs a lot of money.
  • Sep 23 2012: The reason for the low media coverage is the fact the most americans are more interested in thier own problems, and do not consider or understand any effects the Israel-Iran pissing contest may have on their lives. And they are probably more irght than wrong.
    Whatever noise is generated, comes from Israeli govt officials that simply hope the US would do what they probably have no desire to do themselves.
    I my opinion, the real crowd that needs to worry from an Iranian bomb are the Iranian people. Once the Mullah regime has an effective deterant against outside threats or intervention, they can keep that thumb on their dessidents without worrying much. Look at Arab/Muslim war history : they always hit their own people first, and than their neighbors. They almost never venture beyond.
    That fact is understood by the US media, which is probably why you don't get too much coverage.
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    Sep 6 2012: The situation is dire. The spectre of massive violence, whether it be pre-emptive or offensive (there is a difference), is imminent. Tensions are high. The whole thing is locked and loaded and controlled by a hair trigger. The slightest misdeed, or offense can ignite it all. Everyone is tip-toeing. Will Iran complete a bomb and deliver it, or will Israel destroy Iran's weapons production capability? There is a distant, very distant, third possibility and that is peaceful negotiation leading to settlement. The quiet we are hearing is the sound of extreme caution.
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      Sep 6 2012: I some do agree that tensions are still high and that the problem is far from gone but do you think that the lack of public knowledge because of a media closure on Iran could escalate any further developments? I for one would feel more comfortable if the public was aware of the things we in this discussion are aware of. Is it wrong for the media to follow how the government is acting?
      Thanks Ed
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        Sep 6 2012: I'm not sure the media can be silenced so easily Mark. I tend to believe they are not covering it because it does not sell well. It's like old news. But it may soon explode onto the front pages world wide when the first punch is thrown. Stay tuned!
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    Sep 20 2012: I don't exactly know why there is a lack of media coverage on the Iran issue . There are many reasons , I guess any of them contributed to the actual situation . It could be because there is no such important news for the front pages . It could be because the media pressure didn't prove effective enough in stopping Ban Ki-moon visiting Iran therefore reporters sources got quite for a while .....
    Of a single thing I'm sure though , the tensions between Iran and Israel are not lower . Only when Iran will stop the nuclear program Israel will have peace ...... personally I'm waiting the next assassination .
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    Sep 6 2012: Mark, Stevie Wonder can see the tension on stage when world leaders meet with the US President. Our Secretary of State has had to have her husband attend meetings that would normally be chaired by her. Our foreign policy is a sham.

    We have big guns and depend on others to be afraid of our power. Our President wants us out of the war but is willing to take full credit for killing Osama Ben Ladin. We try to buy friendship with American big bucks. Good luck with that.

    I find the other news disturbing, but also feel that it is good for us to know that not everything we are fed is the absolute truth. I am lucky to have a military background and understand some of the gamesmanship that goes on. But learned early on to think both sides as an advantage to a solution.

    I don't think that the intention is to sound patronizing I truely believe that our leadership is clueless and if we seem to be patronizing that is better than the truth ... that we are being stupid.

    I love the US. However I love my kids also but know when they are in the wrong. To not admit it is the biggest step into a bigger problem.

    Thanks for your reply.

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    Sep 6 2012: Media has two purposes: 1) to gain political favor thus scooping others in media releases and 2) Selling copies and both are inter-related.

    As you may have heard it is election time. It is my opinion that the media is currently behind the current administration, with the exception of FOX news. Again my opinion ... Coverage of all of these issues would sway public opinion by reporting that we have no political clout, our diplamatic efforts are a sham, our economy is in a freefall, and our allies are questioning our direction.

    We went over 15 trillion in debit .. not a word ... Obama care will finicially break all of the states ... not a word .... that seniors will lose medicare right after the election ... not a word ... That millions of jobs will be lost by shutting down coal fired power plants ... not a word .... that the power loss by shutting down coal fired plants has not been planned for ... not a word ... that the white house has stated they will add 3 trillion to the national debit next year ... not a word ... However .. that is all Bush's fault ... in every report.

    One would think that if the world is on the brink of war it would be news worthy. The US people have been used by the media and the administration. In this I believe that Norm Chomsky is accurate.

    Our economy and our foreign policy are in the trash can. Our leader is called the Prince of Fools around the world and the US has lost crediablity on the world stage. I try to listen to other nations news and read columns from papers around the world to get info on MY country. I try to be honest in my evaluation of these reports.

    Mark, I think this is a timely and important conversation. I look forward to the debate.

    All the best. Bob.
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      Sep 6 2012: I think your dead right about the state of US media representation. Its a shame that more people like you don't question its feasibility and its people like you that HAVE to talk about this in public forum, especially in the US.
      As an addition to this debate, I would also like to ask you on how you, as an American, view the portrayal of the US from international media sources (UK, European, Asian). Do you think there is a misconception in the US about your own security and also a slight misguidance by the Government and Media from within the US with regards to International Relations?
      Here, we never mention or bad mouth US relations as we treasure our relationship but we do hear about the vica versa towards other nations from the US which in some cases comes across as somewhat patronizing. Do you think this is true and also has an affect on how the US public views the Iranian problem differently to other nations?
      Thank you Bob