On May 26, 2004, a year after the invasion of Iraq, the New York Times issued an extraordinary apology for their failure in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, The Times and Iraq
. . . we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged or failed to emerge.
Flash forward to June 12, 2009. Thousands of tweets claim the Iranian elections are rigged. Mousavi supporters fill the streets of Tehran. Within 48 hours, hundreds of thousands of retweets echo and amplify the chants and the cries of mostly anonymous twitterers reporting Iranian state violence. The tweets are homepage news on Huffington Post and Drudge Report. All the diaries of leading blogs are further amplifying the information disseminated by the tweets and retweets.
The Twitter Revolution and the Green Revolution were on! The MSM had failed!
But then. Someone from the Main Stream Media actually investigated on the ground in Tehran – Robert Fisk for the UK newspaper, The Independent
At around 4.35 last Monday morning, my Beirut mobile phone rang in my Tehran hotel room. “Mr Fisk, I am a computer science student in Lebanon. I have just heard that students are being massacred in their dorms at Tehran University. Do you know about this?” The Fisk notebook is lifted wearily from the bedside table. “And can you tell me why,” he continued, “the BBC and other media are not reporting that the Iranian authorities have closed down SMS calls and local mobile phones and have shut down the internet in Tehran? I am learning what is happening only from Twitters and Facebook.”
You will recall that the SNM was, of course, buzzing with declarations that the main stream media was failing to report the “truth” as evidenced in the almost entirely unsourceable, unchallengeable tweets. One of the top trending hashtags at Twitter was #cnnfail.
Fisk, however, did what good journalists do, he put on his shoes and went out to investigate. Most of these ‘truths’ circling the socially networked universe, he quickly found were simply untrue. Continue reading