Tweeting Wolf?

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Many of the activists and citizen journalists tweeting from Iran must be struggling with a difficult balance between 1) reporting the truth and thus gaining credibility, and 2) using hyperbole, or even fabrication, when the attention of the Western media wavers. Tehran Bureau's Jason Rezaian touches upon this dilemma:

No one is calling the tragedy of Neda, the young woman gunned down in a protest last week, a hoax; but the story of yesterday’s “Baharestan Massacre,” in which people were reportedly “shot like animals,” and axed to death in the street, seems questionable. Although few will admit it, it’s well known among Iranians that we are prone to hyperbole and rumor, and those who want to have their say from Tehran must consider this carefully moving forward. The future of their struggle, as it is perceived in the eyes of the rest of the world, depends on it.

At the first whiff that a developing story might be fabricated, traditional media outlets covering Iran will put the story on the shelf. There is already a sense of fatigue and frustration, as it’s become such a difficult story to report, and yet Iran has also become somewhat of a juggernaut, recapturing the world’s imagination in much the way it did thirty years ago.

Iran is in the process being re-branded globally, with most media outlets showing younger, more Western friendly faces, as opposed to the tired, stereotyped religious fanatics we’ve seen for the past three decades. At the moment, the power and responsibility is in the hands of the younger generations, but if the Western media feels burned this time around, I doubt they will come running the next time Iranians cry “foul.”

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