In our last post, I reported on the questions of a senior editor at an Iranian news website. I only responded to the first three and promised answers to the other questions later. Here now are those other answers.
Can any Iranian journalist enter the United States and report on what they consider as “the realities of US society” to their audience?
According to the State Department, an Iranian journalist who wishes to travel to the United States has to go to a U.S. consulate overseas (Dubai, for example) and apply for a media visa. The decision to issue the visa is made by consular officers. Six such media visas were issued in 2009. There are no quotas and no travel restrictions once the journalist is in the U.S. and they can report on whatever they like.
During the last summer and winter, the Persian service of the Voice of America broadcast a picture of an Iranian lady named Taraneh Mousavi and broadcast the story of her arrest, rape and setting fire of her body. Can Mr. Belida say what was the source for this news in VOA? Can VOA present just one more picture of her, any ID document, address of her school, workplace or house, a neighbor, family of this person?
We reported news of her death based on information from multiple Iranian sources. And we subsequently reported the official denials of her death as carried by Iranian media. Later we reported on the fact that Iranian media outlets themselves had contradictory reports on the woman’s fate. According to a senior editor of VOA’s Persian News Network, we do not know for certain if this woman is alive or dead. However the same editor says the contradictory official information could be easily interpreted as a cover up.
Why did VOA zoom in on last summer’s turmoil in Tehran and encourage its viewers openly or suggest to them to set fire to public properties and break the law? Are these actions considered media related work?
The demonstrations and disturbances in Iran following the disputed June election were news. We reported what happened. We did not (and do not) encourage, or suggest, that anyone break the law. It is possible the Alef editor believes that by advertising a link to which people could send videos of police shootings or other forms of brutality, VOA was asking people to break the law. Like other news organizations, we were merely trying to get access to information and images the Government of Iran was trying to suppress. We in fact advised people who were considering sending us video not to endanger themselves or violate laws.
Why did the Voice of America introduce Abdolmalik Rigi as "the leader of popular Iranian resistance movement" while interviewing him?
Rigi was head of a group known officially as Jondollah or the People’s (or popular) Resistance Movement of Iran.
I was extremely pleased to see the spirited comments sent in after the last posting.
A couple weren’t satisfied with my response to the Alef editor’s first three questions, suggesting the answer that all three questions were absurd was flippant. So let’s try again. Here were the original questions – and some new responses:
Can Mr Belida and his colleagues release any news which is against the national interest of Israel?
If the question means “can VOA and especially its Persian service report news that is critical of Israel or critical of Israeli government policy”, the answer is yes.
When the US government closed the case for the September 11th attack in an unfinished way and with no conclusion, which American journalist protested against this decision? What was the conclusion of this possible protest? What was the answer of US government to revelations made in this regard in the 9/11 documentary made by Michael Moore?
Again, the question is a bit confusing (journalists don’t protest, they report) but I’ll take a stab at it. There are, as one of the other comment contributors pointed out, numerous websites and publications that continue to challenge official conclusions about the events of 9/11. Take a look at 911truth.org for example. And filmmaker Michael Moore’s movie and personal views on 9/11 continue to generate discussion that can be followed on-line. Take a look at his site michaelmoore.com.
Can any journalist in the west question the holocaust and present documents to deny the holocaust?
Yes, and non-journalists as well. That few do suggests most people accept the holocaust as a historical fact. VOA’s Persian News Network, on the program “Straight Talk”, recently reported on the holocaust denial issue and profiled five prominent holocaust deniers. The show went on to debunk Iranian misinformation about whether individuals in the west can discuss and conduct research into the holocaust. They can, even in Israel.
By the way, we attempted to get Iranian officials and others allied with the government to participate in that show. They declined, including an editor at the Alef website who called the show’s host “a traitor.”
Might I suggest that as a first step toward greater understanding that journalists like the editors of Alef drop the attitude of confrontation and harsh rhetoric. As one of our recent comment contributors noted, that “just feeds insecurity and suspicion.”