Judging by recent self-congratulatory reports as the media falls over itself trying to prove how hip it is, we are now meant to all hail Twitter. This ‘social networking’ site (more often used for trumpeting what you had for breakfast or which C-list celebrity you just spotted) has apparently proved invaluable because, after accredited journalists were banned from Iran, someone filmed Neda Agha-Soltan dying on the streets of Tehran and the images have gone viral.
Naturally it is very sad when someone dies a violent death. Repressive regimes are generally considered wrong in Western society, unless they have oil and are on our side. Now we can all jump up and down and decry the Iranian government because they are slaughtering innocents. We know this because pictures were smuggled out on a cell phone and people are ‘tweeting’ about it – don’t even get me started on the banality of that language.
There is no considered commentary from a reliable source – on either side. We may never be able to know the full story, but now we know even less than usual. The people who are trained in how to present these facts and occurrences are banned from reporting on them. The crack-down on the media provoked much outrage from those who believe in the freedom of the press, but I’m sure there are more than a few unscrupulous moguls rubbing their hands in glee at this unlooked-for cost-cutting measure.
Why pay for educated journalists and photographers with experience and credibility when you can get any Wayne, Trevor or Shirley with barely a rudimentary grasp of grammar to ‘capture live events’ for free? All they ask for in return is their five minutes of fame (it used to be 15 but attention spans are shorter these days) – it’s easier than eating live cockroaches on Fear Factor to get people to notice them.
Of course they will have to have an unlimited text programme because if they try to phone it through they will run out of pre-paid air-time before they can say, ‘It was like totally awesome and I was like, oh my god, just so freaking out – I’ve like, never seen anything like it before in my whole entire life.’ Of course you haven’t – you’re 15.
So, in the quest to bring you the news, who are you going to trust – a despotic megalomaniac, or a teenager with a cell phone? And, to be brutally honest here, is there any difference?