Opinion

The Great Debate

It’s not a Twitter revolution in Iran

reeseportrait1-150– Reese Erlich is a freelance foreign correspondent who covered the Iranian elections and is author of The Iran Agenda: the Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis (Polipoint Press) The views expressed are his own. —

Iran is not undergoing a Twitter Revolution. The term simultaneously mischaracterizes and trivializes the important mass movement developing in Iran.

Here’s how it all began. The Iranian government prohibited foreign reporters from traveling outside Tehran without special permission, and later confined them to their hotel rooms and offices. CNN and other cable networks were particularly desperate to find ways to show the large demonstrations and government repression. So they turned to Internet sites such as Facebook and Twitter in a frantic effort to get information. Since reporters were getting most of their information from Tweets and You Tube video clips, the notion of a “Twitter Revolution” was born.

We reporters love a catch phrase and, Twitter being all a flutter in the west, it seemed to fit. It’s a catchy phrase but highly misleading.

First of all the vast majority of Iranians have no access to Twitter. While reporting in Tehran, I personally didn’t encounter anyone who used it regularly. A relatively small number of young, economically well off Iranians do use Twitter. A larger number have access to the Internet. However, in the beginning, most demonstrations were organized through word of mouth, mobile phone calls and text messaging.

from For the Record:

Counting quality — not characters — in social media

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

Are we too connected?

In recent days and weeks I’ve been wondering if our mobile phones, Blackberries, text messaging and constant access to email and social media have brought us too close together for our own good.

Or maybe the quality of our connected life is only as good as the information we share.

Facebook, shmacebook: What’s the next great thing?

John Abell

John C Abell is the New York Bureau Chief for Wired.com and edits the Epicenter Blog. The opinions expressed are his own.

Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in the social media space, with some 200 million members, a valuation of perhaps $5 billion and a base that has expanded well beyond its early roots as a private hangout for bored Ivy League students.

But, like the ad says, life comes at you fast — and there is nothing more unforgiving than internet time. So, are the best years ahead for Facebook, or is the finicky mob of cool kids — and now their parents and grandparents — already peering down the road for another Next Great Thing?

Did Twitter make flu fears viral?

twitter1 Now that the panic over the H1N1 flu strain has somewhat subsided, experts are contemplating what role Twitter played in helping the virus, commonly known as swine flu, go viral.

The H1N1 virus has caused around 6,500 infections in 33 countries and 65 people have died so far, according to the World Health Organization. Common seasonal flu kills up to 500,000 people a year worldwide.

So did Twitter put the media before the message and escalate anxieties by propagating rumors of biological attack and pork production infection?

from For the Record:

Twittering away standards or tweeting the future of journalism?

I've been tweeting from the World Economic Forum, using the microblogging platform Twitter to discuss the mundane (describing crepuscular darkness of the Swiss Alps at 5 a.m.) or the interesting (live tweeting from presentations).

Is it journalism?

Is it dangerous?

Is it embarrassing that my tweets even beat the Reuters newswire?

Silicon Valley Insider

Am I destroying Reuters standards by encouraging tweeting or blogging?

(These aren't rhetorical questions - I've been challenged by many people who would answer those questions as No, Yes, Yes, and Yes! I answer them as Yes, Potentially, No and No.)

The foundation of what we do as a company and as a news service are the Reuters Trust Principles.

from Reuters Editors:

Typewriters, Technology and Trust

dean-150Dean Wright is Global Editor, Ethics, Innovation and News Standards. Any opinions are his own.

A little girl in my family got a typewriter for Christmas.

Not a laptop. Nothing with a screen. A typewriter. The old-fashioned manual kind with a smeary ribbon and keys that stick.

Typewriters had pretty much gone the way of dodo birds, car tail fins and cigar-chomping editors who yell “Stop the Presses” quite some years before my granddaughter was born. But it was the typewriter used by the school-age, aspiring journalist in the movie “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" that captivated her.

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