How the Iranian Green Revolution was Brought to You by Twitter

“The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live”
-Gil-Scott Heron, 1970

My working thesis tonight comes from Gil-Scott Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Ostensibly about social issues swallowing mainstream America at the time, the Heron piece serves as a rallying cry to this day for social unrest and upheaval. As the American public’s world vision grows increasingly more myopic news hounds are turning toward social media for up-to-the-moment reports.

This piece is not about tyranny in Iran, nor is it about Ahmadienjad’s seemingly fraudulent reelection. This is about the ability of citizens to break news, to serve the world consciousness in manner once reserved for men with helmet hair behind news desks televised nationally. This is about the great reawakening taking place in a world without borders – the Internet.

“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”
-Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

The minority here are those on Twitter breaking news at every available opportunity. They are the minority by the nature of them following news, world news in a Farsi-speaking nation at that. The minority screamed out in a great, collective, revolutionary voice today that Tehran and Tabriz are rife with social injustice while the media godheads at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and others neglected the story.

Ahmandienjad’s administration is a matter of great concern to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. I cannot state for certain what the major U.S. media outlets stated objectives are. I can only state what they made the conscious decision to air. They were discussing attractive 25-year old females gone missing, polls on General Motors and an American-prison piece.

Meanwhile, tweeters were setting the Internet on fire, posting stories, videos and photos from every available source, including brave citizens on the streets of Iran who were tweeting about the state of Tehran University, power outages, government control of cellular devices, rioters, police beatings and brutality, arrested government officials, dissenters, Ahmadienjad’s opposition being arrested and on and on and on. Prominent national news agencies across the pond were posting stories and photos as well. Big ups to Reuters, the BBC, Al-Jazeera and several other news organizations for doing what they could in a media-controlled state with little connectivity.

The true heroes of any revolution are the people themselves. The ideas the people put forth, the actions and chances they take and the fear they overcome. While a great deal of those of us stateside were doing what we could, the true credit comes to the brave people who have since been cut off from the West on the ground in Iran, most notably in Tehran and Tabriz.

During the initial outbreak, Firefox released a patch designed to bypass restrictions to websites such as Clearly, the need to hear the citizens was fast becoming the priority. I say priority hesitantly. American views regarding world events could accurately be described as provincial. Case in point: The current most popular news stories on are of a submarine colliding with a U.S. Navy sonar array, a suspect found not guilty of a girl’s death in California and an outrageous sum of money paid to park an automobile. Americans aren’t getting the full picture, or perhaps, as I believe to be the case, they don’t want it. Major news outlets lean toward what the people what and right now they don’t want to know about what’s happening in Iran.

The U.S. media failed us because they failed to report on this major world event. The U.S. media failed to report because U.S. citizens are concerned about irrelevant, unimportant and nonsensical stories. They are a business and there is more money to be made in selling ads on sites about those stories. Meanwhile, the Twitterverse is raging. Tweeters are telling the story in ways the media outlets could only dream of – without marketing and without dollars and cents being lumped into the equation. They’ve grown fat and lazy and forgot about why they are in the news game.

Twitter has emerged as, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most relevant, most topical, newsgathering group in human history. We are seeing a great change in the established order, folks, and it’s happening live as a young, black poet once told us it would 39 years ago.

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