Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dangers of relying on journalism

There is a healthy and informative debate going on in the pages of Foreign Policy about how and why Western journalists misinterpreted the 2009 election in Iran and the subsequent political events.

It's good background if you're teaching about Iran, but there's probably not much useful teaching material for comparative politics, unless you choose some excerpts to illustrate how journalism differs from scholarly study and analysis.

Now, if you're teaching journalism…

Misreading Tehran — Leading Iranian-American writers revisit a year of dreams and discouragement.
When Iranians took to the streets the day after they cast their ballots for president, the Western media was presented with a sweeping, dramatic story…

It was a story that seemed to write itself. But it was also a story that the West -- and the American media in particular -- was destined to get wrong in ways both large and small…

FP asked seven prominent Iranian-Americans, deeply immersed in both the English- and Persian-language media, to look through the fog of journalism at what actually happened in Tehran -- and why so many of us got it so wrong...

Who's Really Misreading Tehran? — Wishful thinking and bad analysis has inflated Iran's Green Movement into something it certainly is not: a viable alternative to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Foreign Policy's seven-part series, "Misreading Tehran," is, for the most part, a disappointing example of the phenomenon it purports to explain -- inaccurate interpretations of Iranian politics surrounding the Islamic Republic's June 12, 2009, presidential election…

From literally the morning after the election, the vast majority of Western journalists and U.S.-based Iran "experts" rushed to judgment that the outcome had to have been the result of fraud. These journalists and commentators largely succeeded in turning the notion of a fraudulent election in Iran into a "social fact" in the United States...

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