Lessons From ‘the Abyss of Yesterday’s News’

Realizing that “by now, talk of the Iranian elections will have traversed into the abyss of yesterday’s news,” Warehouse magazine contributing writer Mohsen al Attar (7/10/09) still thinks “the events narrate a highly educational tale about the role of media in present-day society”:

Few would question the media machine’s efficiency. Once a major media outlet decides to run with a story–as was done with the Iranian election protests–there is little to arrest its circulation or to challenge the implications the particular telling makes.

Of the Iranians and non-Iranians supporting the protests–and they are numerous in Canada alone–an important distinction can be made between those reacting to the events and those reacting to the story of the events. I suspect those belonging to the former must possess a perpetual feeling of dissatisfaction with the media’s porous and flimsy representation of Iranian politics, as if social reality can always be tucked away in neat little binaries: tradition and modernity, religious and secular, legitimate and illegitimate.

Al Attar goes on to contrast Amira Haas’ maxim that “the role of the media is to monitor the centers of power” with the appropriate term for such “stories that contain little substance, an obvious slant and are devoid of any critical analysis: propaganda.” In al Attar’s view, “cheerleading a particular position–there is a link between Iraq and al Qaeda, Hugo Chavez is a bad man, the solution to the economic crisis is to throw more money at the financiers who got us into the mess–is the role of a propaganda machine.”

Listen to the FAIR radio show CounterSpin: “David Barsamian on Iran Upheaval” (6/26/09).