Hossein Derakhshan at PostGlobal

Hossein Derakhshan

Canada/Iran

Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. Since 2001, he has been based out of Toronto, Canada, running his award-winning weblog, Editor: Myself, which has been among the most influential blogs in the Persian language. Close.

Hossein Derakhshan

Canada/Iran

Iranian-born Hossein "Hoder" Derakhshan is a blogger, journalist, and internet activist. more »

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is biased against Iran

Last week, the French press and Internet watchdog, Reporters Sans Frontier, sent out a press release announcing that Iran has blocked access to The New York Times, implying that the Islamic republic has expanded censorship to Western news websites and this is in line with the new anti-Western policies of president Ahmadinejad.

A few hours after that, through trusted journalists and friends in Tehran, I verified the report and realized that almost none of the websites mentioned in the report, including the New York Times were filtered. I even checked the websites of Israeli newspapers, Haaretz and Jerusalem Post and they were open too. So I concluded that the filtering has been a technical glitch in the Iranian-made filtering software and it's not a policy.

The combination of The Guardian's inaccurate reporting and RSFs unfair and partial press realase made a lethal mix last week and numerous news outlets used this to reinforce the negative image of Iran as the other North Korea.

The RSF, though, probably as a result of a post on this blog which was the only place questioning its findings, has retracted its report. But the way they've done it reveals how biased they are, even when they want to correct themselves.

Instead of removing the whole false story and unfair analysis based on it, from their website, they've just added a few paragraphs, confirming reports that the New York Times is unblocked.

In addition to that, they've refused to send a new press release correcting their big mistake which has significant implications, especially because of their hard work and efforts they're now seen as a trustworthy source of information on Internet censorship by thousands of analysts and policy makers. This is clear breach of fairness and impartiality, two principles of journalism for which RSF is supposed to defend as a media watchdog that protects journalists.

This reminds me of a similar false story on Iran forcing Jews to wear badges, first published by National Post by Amir Taheri, and in a few hours was spread all around the world in all languages and consequently affected hundreds of millions of people's perception of Iran. But predictably only a tiny fraction of all those outlets ran the retraction and only a few millions of those people were informed about its total falseness.

We live in a dangerous world where the reality is more and more constructed by the media and the media is losing its independence to governments or big corporations more and more everyday.

Unfortunately, until blogs are breathing in this same air and get their facts from these sources, nothing is going to change either, no matter how many trillions of blogs are out there, chewing on the same stuff the mainstream media is producing.

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