Cover of the first issue of The Iranain
Keeping it real
Four years on the Internet is a mighty long time
By Jahanshah Javid
August 13, 1999
The Iranian was born four year ago this month. What a trip! I
remember after the first issue I proudly boasted about "70,000 [hits],
from 2,500 hosts in more than 20 countries in less than two months."
This month iranian.com has had just over 100,000 hits PER DAY, and
at the current pace, it will be visited by 60,000 individuals (uniques)
Not bad. Not bad at all. But I lost interest in all these numbers long
ago. Who cares (except for my dear advertisers)? Give me a good quote,
a few lines of sincere, interesting, refreshing words, a picture that would
take my breath away -- or make me angry as hell --, a cartoon that would
make it all worth it, despite the seemingly endless bad news from home.
Four years on the Internet is a mighty long time. Probably longer than
When I recently looked back at the first
issue of The Iranian I thought, wow... that's it? Two months'
worth of work? Back then it seemed like the hardest thing in the world.
And we -- my cousin Karim Ardalan and I -- wondered what the hell are we
going to offer in the next issue -- two months down the line.
Today The Iranian is updated every weekday AND there's also The
The day begins at around eight in the morning with a call from my producers
at the radio station to do a story on, say, the latest mass-shooting in
some city in the U.S. Fine. That will be taken care of in a couple of hours.
I get up from the floor where I have fallen asleep in front of the TV
in my last last night's clothes. I look at myself in the bathroom mirror.
I should comb my hair. But I have work to do.
I sit behind the computer and, for pretty much the rest of the day,
I stay there. First I download emails (about 150 a day). I delete most,
read a few others (only the first three lines, usually), and reply to a
couple if ABSOLUTELY necessary. Replies are rarely more than two sentences.
Often they are limited to, "Thanks" or " :-) " or "That's
There's simply NO TIME to think and respond to every email in a decent
manner. I have convinced myself that snappy, impersonal responses to emails
are unavoidable. I feel less and less guilt, but can't get rid of it entirely.
What to do? Go on working.
I go into the unused articles file. What would be good for today? Hmmm...
had too many political stuff this week. Need something lighter. Another
story about Iranian-American identity problems? Give it a rest. An excerpt
from a book... sounds good. Go through the text, add some related links,
pick a headline. Come up with a matching image. All done in about an hour
and a half. Maybe two. It's getting late... shoot!
Okay. Next item. Photo of the Day. Search AP and Reuters photo banks.
Nothing. Payman hasn't emailed anything either. Go through unused photo
files. An old photo of some street in Tehran... no. Not again. Can't decide.
Update the Today page in The Iranian with material published
the previous week in The Iranian Times. Rearrange some ads. Check
to see if everything is okay. Forgot to change the date. Fix the date.
Go to daily Neshat on the web. Check out today's column by Ebrahim
Navabi. First smile of the day. Use screen-saver to capture an image of
the column. Edit in Photoshop. Upload image onto server. Prepare the satire
Check emails. Soma has another nice piece from Tehran. Email it to subscribers
of the Times as an extra.
File radio report. It's late.
Back to Photo of the Day. What to do, what to do? Hmmm... Check out
the front page of Iran newspaper on the web. The huge banner tells
some important (miserable) event. Screen-saver. Upload image. Turn it into
the Photo of the Day as a record of yet another memorable (unhappy) day
Next. Nostalgia section, thanks to Pedram. I go through the images of
Pop stars of yesteryears. Can't help laughing at their silly poses. Pick
one. Upload. Move on.
Download emails. Nothing, really.
Pour a big glass of grapefruit juice. Turn on the radio. Pop tunes.
Light a Marlboro Ultra Light. Leave it on the corner of the computer desk
until it burns the edge.
Phone rings. Radio producer wants a story on the lifting of Iran food
sanctions by the U.S. Okay. It's getting late... very late.
Go through the day's news emailed by Laleh and Payman. Read the headlines
only. Go to Reuters, AP and BBC sites to check out their news as well.
Pick the most important ones. Take a paragraph or two for news briefs.
Add links. Select best feature article, usually from foreign sources, for
the Outlook section.
Go back to Neshat and Iran newspapers on the web. Also
see Hamshahri. Pick two or three items for the Sports and Arts news
sections. Screen-save, edit, upload images. Create web pages for each news
The room is too cold. Adjust the thermostat. Warm up a piece of chicken
in the microwave.
Web section. Go through Iranian web sites emailed by various people.
Pick one that's most interesting. Is the web address correct? It works.
Take one glance. Looks fine. Also pick a non-Iranian site of the day from
Yahoo's weekly favorites.
It's three o'clock. Good lord it's late.
Exchange rate. Call Sehaty Exchange. Up another 10 tomans. Update.
Community news. Update.
Letters. Go through letters file. Pick the most interesting ones, preferably
critical. Ignore the sweet comments about The Iranian, but save
them anyway. Nice to know they're there. Update the Letters section with
new comments. Wished more people would use their real name. I know, I know...
there's still a lot of fear.
Anyway section. My favorite. Let it all hang out. Be outrageous. Forget
all the sad and serious news. Life's too short. Laugh at all the ridiculous
things around you...
Quote of the day... Christ it's late!
I know. It sounds disturbing, because it IS disturbing to any normal
human being. But what can I say? I love my work. It's insanely hectic,
but I wouldn't give it up for anything. As a result, I've lost a loved
one and stopped virtually all contacts with family members and friends.
Often I don't even reply to their emails.
My only contact with the "real" world is going swimming for
an hour a day (if I have time), buying groceries once a week, or driving
to the post office to check the mail. I might go to the movies once or
twice a month or join friends for a meal now and then. But that's it. And
then I want to get back behind the computer as fast as I can.
But why? It's the satisfaction I get from finishing each issue of The
Iranian Times. At the end of the day, all the pieces fall into place
and there it is, a reflection of who and what we are. It's sad, ugly, funny,
outrageous, ridiculous, cruel, brilliant and beautiful. It's us in front
of the mirror, before we take a shower and clean our teeth and comb our
hair and put on make-up. It's real.