Sprint Long Distance

The IranianFly to Iran


email us

Sprint Long Distance


Fly to Iran

Sehaty Foreign Exchange


July 6, 2000

The press & the government

I wanted to thank Azadeh Hamehdoni for her fine article on the contemporary Iranian press ["Red ink"] but also to quibble with the second paragraph of the background section.

Of course, all periods in history are unique but they may also have analagous precedents. There were other times besides "'October 15 to November 6'" fo 1978 when Iranian journalists enjoyed relative freedom from censorship: the 1940's following the abdication of Reza Shah and in the wake of the Constiutional Revolution of 1905-6. Also, from the late 19th Century through the early 1930's there was a vibrant and influential expatriate Persian-language press (which was free from Iranian censorship if not always Ottoman, British or other European censors).

On the issue of "professionalization," the role of the authoritarian state -- be it Qajar, Pahlavi or Islamic Republican -- is more complicated. It was the state that introduced the periodical press to Iranian culture in the 19th Century. Mohammad Mas'ud, the publisher of the controversial Mard-e Emruz from 1942-48, was sent to Belgium to study journalism in the 1930's by Reza Shah's government (not that it bought Reza Shah much affection from Mas'ud!). Mas'ud also went on to be a founding member of the Iranian Press Association in 1946.

The state has always had an interest in contolling the press -- most obviously through press laws, but also through education. The first effort to create an Iranian school of journalism came under the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah in the 1960's in the wake of the White Revolution. Mostafa Mesbahzadeh's Keyhan -- closely allied with the throne -- established an institute to train journalists and other press-related professionals.

Later, in the early 1970's, a school of communciation (including press and broadcast media) was established at the University of Tehran. These efforts were influenced by American models. Even into the late 1980's, the bibliographies of university journalism textbooks in Iran reveal a heavy reliance on American and European scholarship on the press and other media.

I do not mean to suggest that politics and censorship are not a vital part of the history of the Iranian press, but there is a bit more to it than that. The central role and faith in the power of the press in Iran today derives from over a 150 years of history in which the press has played a crucial role in politics, culture and economics -- sometimes despite the power of the state and sometimes supported by that same power.

Granted, this is "too much information" for an article on the contemporary Iranian press, but I thought I'd offer it for consideration anyway.

Camron Michael Amin


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.