Iranians have expressed concerns after western mainstream media have used the news feed released by Iran’s state-owned news organizations to publish and report on Iran’s affairs.
Western media organizations have been accused of using the news feed given by Iran’s state-owned news organizations to publish and write about Iran’s current affairs and news and with the lack of independent journalism in Iran, western media seems to be relying heavily on these organization and their fake news!
Who owns Iran’s State News Organization?
In Iran, there is no such thing as a free and independent press/journalism and any journalist dare to write or publish anything deemed unacceptable in the eye of the Islamic Republic, would face prison and in worse cases even given the death penalty!
Organizations such as IRNA, ISNA, Fars News Agency, PressTV, IRIB are owned and controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, their staff, journalists and editors have strong ties with Iran’s security services, meaning in order to work at these places you must be a pro-supporter of the Islamic Republic and only publish materials which would be beneficial to the Islamic Republic’s interests. These organizations have been involved in cover-ups, corruption, propaganda and fake news.
In January 2020, some journalists started quitting the state broadcaster IRIB over the Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 cover-up. It was reported that at least two presenters working for the Iranian state broadcaster had announced their resignations, one of the presenters said she quit after having been told lies on behalf of the state for 13 years. Zahra Khatami quit her role at IRIB, saying: “Thank you for accepting me as anchor until today. I will never get back to TV. Forgive me.”
Independent journalism in Iran
Iran does not have nor allows free and independent journalism/press and has a track record for silencing and imprisoning any journalist/activist who dares to publish or criticize something about the Islamic regime or its officials.
What about the foreign press in Iran?
Foreign journalists and press are barely allowed in the country and those given permission have been vetted and are constantly under surveillance by Iran’s security forces which prevents the foreign press to freely investigate or wite about Iran’s affairs.
In fact, the foreign press is being used by the Islamic Republic as a strategy to spread its own propaganda news for the western readers.
Iran crackdown on journalists
In February 2020, the IRGC’s intelligence division (‘Hefazat-eh Etelaat-eh Sepah‘) was summoning journalists, raiding their homes and confiscating their electronic devices in a renewed campaign to silence criticism of state policies ahead of Iran’s parliamentary elections.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) says intelligence agents are summoning Iranian journalists, raiding their homes, and confiscating their equipment in a campaign to silence criticism of state policies ahead of this month’s parliamentary elections.
At least 10 journalists have been targeted by the intelligence arm of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) over the past two weeks, CHRI said in a statement on February 11.
“Muzzling journalists, detaining activists, and disqualifying parliamentary candidates will not silence dissent in Iran, as the recent protests have shown,” said the executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) Hadi Ghaemi.
“Engaging in independent journalism and peaceful activism should not be a life-endangering act,” he added.
According to first-hand testimonies provided to CHRI, the recent crackdown is aimed at journalists and activists who maintain active social media accounts.
Another well-known case is Jason Rezaian, on the night of July 22, 2014, Iranian government security forces raided Rezaian’s Tehran residence and arrested him and his wife. The agents reportedly confiscated laptops, books, and notes. In a separate raid that night, security forces also arrested a female photojournalist and her husband, both American citizens.