The New, New Journalism: Andrew Sullivan on Iran

June 15, 2009

There’s a lot of noise circulating right now about how the mainstream media networks like CNN and Fox have failed in providing adequate coverage and on-the-ground reporting on the events taking place in Iran. But there hasn’t been much talk about who HAS been providing stellar coverage of the situation.

Over the last couple of days I’ve been glued to Andrew Sullivan’s blog over at The Atlantic. Andrew’s blog is already high-quality content on a daily basis, but over the weekend he began blogging up a storm in real time as the events unfolded in Iran. Unlike big mainstream media outlets, whose reporting has been hindered by elaborate quality regulations, a lack of foreign bureaus to provide them direct on-the-ground footage, and a strong dislike for all forms of new media, Andrew’s blog has been going nonstop, hindered by none of those things. He is updating multiple times a day, sometimes multiple times an hour, every time he has any new piece of information.

He is gradually weaving together a complex narrative of the events taking place half a world away by piecing together a collection of eye-witness accounts, Iranian tweets, cell-phone videos uploaded on Youtube, reader emails from the US and from far away, riveting photos, and links to a multitude of blogs both big and small.

Old media types might shudder at the idea of linking to an unknown blog, but new media journalists like Sullivan aren’t concerned about how big the readership of your blog is or whether you’re just a student writing your observations on Twitter. It’s not about your press credentials; it’s about free flow of information. In this new media landscape, if you’ve got information, it’s worth sharing — no matter who you are.

CNN and other MSM outlets are running a few articles about what’s going on, but they can’t compete with this – real-time accounts through a variety of different mediums, collected together in one place being updated by the minute.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to. Sullivan’s blog is becoming the only source worth reading for accurate, detailed coverage of the events in Iran.

This is what journalism should be.



  1. Great post. The issue of new media v. old media is extremely interesting and this is a great case study.

    Another important think to bring up is the issue of the real time web in all of this!

    • Absolutely — real-time web is important in this. But I think the very concept of real-time web is so new that it’s still hard to grasp the full effects of it — but it certainly has proved useful for outsiders to see what’s going on in Iran in real time.

  2. There is an interesting interview at “Wronging Rights” if you haven’t seen it. One of my good friends has spoken to family in Iran and what she says mimics that interview.

    I am currently trying to get in touch with an old blogger friend of mine who is from Iran but hasn’t lived there since childhood, her family still does though.

    I used to dislike Andrew Sullivan to death, over the last few years I have become more fond of his integrity. I do have him on my reader but haven’t looked at that in a week. I am on my way over to check it out now.


    • Yeah, at times in the past I have found Sullivan a bit misogynistic but his coverage of Iran has been really stellar, and he’s been updating round the clock which is really impressive, definitely worth checking out.

  3. Very cool, props to him for filling the void left by traditional media. Thanks for drawing my attention to him!

  4. Unbelievable, I swear that right before reading the last sentence I was thinking to myself “this is what journalism should be”. Clearly, you thought so too 🙂

    I had a long heated discussion with my mother yesterday about how massive media is tainted so I don’t take their so called “news” seriously. If your source is old media, I will be doubtful of what you’re saying right from the start.

    I’m sure that this is what journalism will be. Someday.

    • Ha, does that mean my kicker was too predictable? I’ll have to work on that 🙂 But yes, I agree that the type of new media journalism that Sullivan is practicing is what journalism will be someday.

  5. I see you’re interested as well in the issue new media v. old media. Iran election has been such a display of the difference between the two and how new media such as Twitter are crucial to get the information going through. The only point is how can we know whether what is said is reliable. Although old media has the same issue, I find that rumors can go on pretty quickly on Twitter without knowing whether it is supported by evidence. What do you think about that?

    I totally agree that the future of journalism is in the new media, where information is freely shared and exchanged. I think it is exiting to finally have the medium for a wide exchange of information, it really makes the internet a borderless world.

  6. Good post. I’ve been glued to Andrew Sullivan and Nico’s live blog on Huffington post since monday as well. Its amazing to see the difference between the amount and quality of information available in these sources, compared to the MSM.

    Nico’s blog is here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/13/iran-demonstrations-viole_n_215189.html

  7. […] blogger is convinced that Andrew Sullivan provides new journalism that deals with the events in Ian. There is nothing like getting good, quality content and the use of different media such as cell […]

  8. […] that the social media is benefiting those outside of Iran more than those facing the Links include: Politicoholic |  “Over the last couple of days I’ve been glued to Andrew Sullivan’s blog over at The […]

  9. […] out on some of the most interesting aspects of using Twitter for journalism. Andrew Sullivan’s curation of information coming out of Iran (or gatewatching, as my colleague Axel Bruns called it long before the recent hype around social […]

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