turbotodd 100000388Y Comment (1) Visits (1634)
This weekend, I woke up Saturday morning to find out what had happened with the Iranian presidential election.
I figured with the voting over and having had plenty of time to count the vote, the results would be in and the anchors and talking heads would have started to recap the outcome.
So I did the same thing this AM, turning on CNN bright and early and, after hearing about the protests of the election results via Twitter and some independent Web sites, hoping to see some live coverage.
What can I say, old habits are hard to break.
As much of an Internet denizen as I fancy myself, I remember watching coverage of Tiananmen Square and the first Gulf War live on CNN.
CNN reporters risked their lives to get those stories out live and in real-time, and over the years the CNN brand really came to mean something, to me personally and to the greater world.
It was an entity we could depend on to provide breaking information from breaking stories, the consequences (mostly) be damned.
But when I turned on the TV this weekend, it was a major #cnnFail.
Mind you, I came to this conclusion before I started to see all the stories coming out online suggesting as much.
First, there was hardly a mention of the Iranian election, and there certainly wasn't the kind of on-the-ground-live coverage I would have expected on such an important story.
And I must say, citizen journalism has come to life for me in a way that it never has before, not because of selectivity but rather by necessity.
I'd been following the Iranian election with some interest, particularly since reform candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi seemed to be gaining in the polls these past couple of weeks.
Perhaps this could lead to a new day in Iran, I thought, so my interest piqued and I started trying to follow the story even more closely, especially leading into to Friday's election.
Considering the importance our U.S. elected officials, both Democratic and Republican alike, have put on the evolution of Iran's nuclear status, it seemed logical that I could expect the story to be followed closely by the U.S. broadcast media.
But it just didn't happen.
Instead, most of the information I've been able to gather has been via roundups and relays from citizen journalists and the likes of reader-funded reporters such as Michael J. Totten, or coverage/commentary from less mainstream writers like Andrew Sullivan (of The Atlantic).
And, of course, photos via Twitpic and Picasa and video via YouTube and, most notably, via Twitter (including the Mousavi1388 Twitter feed which informed us that "ALL internet & mobile networks are cut.")
I have to wonder if the use of the #iranelection hash tag will be looked back upon this weekend as a tipping point, one when the citizen-driven social media turned a corner and itself became the mainstream, looking to the global crowd for the story, not because of any ill-will towards the broadcast networks, but because nature abhors a vacuum, particularly during a seeming revolt, and that the void had to be filled somehow.
Moving forward, I won't give up on CNN, as I believe the major media can still play a critical role, particularly in a democracy such as ours.
But you can rest assured it will no longer be the first place I turn for breaking news.
Not anymore, not after this.