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14/06/2009 by

#CNNFAIL: A Warning Sign To News Agencies?

With the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran a surge in protests by supporters of the pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has risen. Thousands of people went to the streets of Teheran crying fouls of the elections and clashed with the riot police, despite a ban on public protests.

Photo by Napalm Nacey

If you haven’t been living under a rock you have read or heard about it or even seen the disturbing images. However, this news was barely mentioned on the website when this was actually happening on Saturday June 12th.

On Twitter people were asking why CNN wasn’t reporting on this breaking news? President Ahmadinejad is highly criticized in the US on his stance on Iran’s nuclear programs, and supposedly Iran meddles in Iraq and Lebanon.

Taken this into consideration and one has to imagine Iran has a very strict policy on public outcries and authorities even try to prevent any form of demonstration from happening, thus actual demonstrations in Iran can be considered as breaking news.

The hashtag #CNNfail was born and fast became one of the top trending topics on Twitter where the Twitterazi continued their talks and reports on Iran.

While other news agencies (BBC, NPR) were faster than CNN, one starts to wonder if news agencies are even capable of bringing breaking news items. After looking for one of the best user generated websites bringing the current news on the Iranian elections and aftermath, I have bumped into Iran Unrest, a Twazzup powered site, bringing images, items, video’s and more. User Generated Journalism has never been obsolete but seems to be outperforming news agencies when it comes to breaking news items.


Remember the first reports on the plane crash in New York City’s Hudson River came via Twitter and Moldovans turned to Twitter when no agency reported on their outcries over the alleged election fraud. Even in my country, The Netherlands, Twitter was the news outlet on a plane crash at Schiphol Airport.

Have news agencies lost ground to user generated media? One might think so and I believe news agencies have had their warning. On the other hand, the rise of user generated journalism can be seen as a welcome addition to reports from news agencies where the latter should be able to do in-depth reporting and have checked sources.

Either way, change is here and it perhaps it will also occur in Iran?

Sources: CNET, WSJ, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, BBC, Economist.


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