A useful account of Twitter and tweeting journalists

October 22, 2009

My Australian colleague Julie Posetti at the University of Canberra has written a good piece in The Walkley Magazine about how journalists are, should and might make use of Twitter as a tool.

Why journalism’s all a-Twitter, Walkley Magazine Oct 2009

Julie’s piece highlights some of the professional and ethical issues that arise when Twitter enters the newsroom, but I agree with her that attempts to stop journalists from using Twitter is over-kill.

It raises a difficult issue though: when using social media, where is the line between a professional and a personal persona?

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Al Giordano @ The Field: Interesting updates on Iran and background

June 24, 2009

Al Giordano at The Field has some very interesting commentary on the state of play in Iran.

For anyone interested in thoughtful analysis and deep background, I would recommend that you visit his site.

In a post from 23 June, Al’s talking about the situation in Iran from an informed perspective that certainly accords with my own thinking at this point:

What we can see in Iran today are two simultaneous struggles, one from below (people with legitimate grievances against their government), and one up above (a power struggle between factions).

Although many had hoped that the post-electoral struggle in Iran would be a one act play, this one seems more likely to be headed into a saga that is four or five acts long. Like many previous social movements throughout history, this has turned from a hundred yard dash into a marathon.

I don’t know about Al’s politics, but his analysis of the importance of a general strike to the success of any secular/humanist overthrow of the Islamist regime is spot on:

The conflict is now moving into a Second Phase, in which massive street protests show diminishing returns (it would be near impossible to keep them massive when communications are subject to such constant censorship and interference) and different sectors of the opposition – electoral, non-electoral, students, labor, religious, etcetera – have called for a General Strike, using varying words to describe it.

There are unconfirmed reports today that a national strike is underway already, including by Iran state television which has reported that today, Tuesday, thirty percent of workers in the country have not shown up on the job.

If state media is admitting 30 percent, it is a safe bet that adherence to the strike is larger than that. It would also be very impressive because the government has warned that any citizen that participates in a strike will be fired from his and her job, or lose his or her space in the public markets. Thirty percent compliance on what is only the first day a strike would also be heartening for the resistance because some sectors – specifically a call by the Grand Ayatollah and spiritual elder Montazeri for three days of mourning beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, have not kicked in yet.

I suggest that if you’re interested in this line of thinking, checking out The Field should be a higher priority than following the Twitter feeds, or mainstream media.

For the MSM, the story has now moved into a second phase too: one that privileges Washington and London over the bazaars. I will post more on this later, particularly the awful Fox network coverage from this week.

One other interesting source is a guy called NiteOwl who’s posting updates at Anonymous Iran and who claims to only be distilling his information from the Twittersphere. I like his writing style and the fact that he covers himself with a large disclaimer.

People Outside Iran: This is as clear and concise as I can be. I have not included ANYTHING that I have sensed to be remotely fishy, but human error will always manifests itself in even the most flawless of non-mathematical things. However, this includes nothing from the Western media, including the BBC which I have been generously using to inform people and I laud them for their courageous journalism.

People Inside Iran: Don’t believe a WORD of what I am telling you. Do what you think is best, keeping everything in mind. I know LITTLE of what you know so make your decisions based on your OWN judgment.

This should be on every news story coming out of Iran at the moment.


Iran update #1: Real revolution will not be taking the bus either

June 23, 2009

Mousavi suporters have called for a general strike to begin in Iran today (Tuesday Iran time). This is the way forward. In 1979 it was the industrial working class and in particular the oil workers who led the revolution until it was hijacked by Islamic fundamentalists.

This could be the beginning of a new uprising of working class anger that is secularist and organised. It is, in my view, the most significant working class action since Solidarity in the 1970s and could trigger a wider regional revolt against regimes that have given support to the Iranians over the past few years.

I was talking to an Iranian protester in Auckland yesterday. He was quoting Jean Paul Satre, not the Qu’uran. That is significant too. Secular Iranians don’t want Islamic fundamentalism, but where will their political leadership come from. Hopefull from comrades like these brave Iranian bus workers.

This is a statement the bus drivers’ union issued on the weekend. Full link is at Narcosphere

The Autobus Workers Union of Iran (Sendikaye Sherkat Vahed, in Farsi)

In recent days we have witnessed the passionate presence of millions of women and men, the old and the young, and ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, people who want their government to recognize their most basic right, the right to freely, independently, and transparently elect, a right that in most societies around the world is not only recognized officially but for whose protection no effort is neglected.

In the current situation, we witness threats, arrests, killings, and naked persecution, which threaten to grow in dimension and lead to the shedding of innocent people’s blood thus bringing a rise in popular protests and not in their decline.

Iranian society is facing a deep political and economic crisis. Million-strong protests, which have manifested themselves with a silence that is replete with meaning, have become a pattern that is growing in area and dimension, a growth that demands a response from any responsible person and organization.

The Autobus Workers Union in an announcement issued before the elections declared, “in the absence of the freedom for political parties, our organization is naturally deprived of a social institution that can protect it.”

“Workers of the Autobus Workers Union consider their social involvement and political activity to be the certain right of each member of society and furthermore believe that workers across Iran as long as they submit the platforms of presidential candidates and a practical guarantee about campaign slogans can choose to participate or not participate in elections.”

The fact that the demands of the vast majority of Iranian society go far beyond those of unions is obvious to all, and in the previous years we have emphasized that until the principle of the freedom to organize and to elect is not materialized, any talk of social freedom and labor union rights will be a farce.

Given these facts, the Autobus Workers Union places itself alongside all those who are offering themselves in the struggle to build a free and independent civic society. The union condemns any kind of suppression and threats.

To recognize labor-union and social rights in Iran, the international labor organizations have declared the Fifth of Tir (June 26) the international day of support for imprisoned Iranian workers as well as for the institution of unions in Iran. We want that this day be viewed as more than a day for the demands of labor unions to make it a day for human rights in Iran and to ask all our fellow workers to struggle for the trampled rights of the majority of the people of Iran.

With hope for the spread of justice and freedom,

Autobus Workers Union


The revolution will not be Twitter-ized

June 18, 2009

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

Revolutionary black musician Gil Scott Heron released “The revolution will not be televised” in 1971. It was the first track on side 1 of Pieces of Man.

I put it out there because I think it’s important to reign in a little the “Twitter Triumphalism” around events in Iran over the past few days.

I want to paraphrase GSH: The revolution will not be twitter-ized”

I was on TVNZ this morning discussing the Iran-media/Twitter Revolution stuff.
Vodpod videos no longer available. Posted with VodPod

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