Snapshot from Tehran's 6th International Digital Media Fair and Festival
© Your Middle East
Snapshot from Tehran's 6th International Digital Media Fair and Festival
Alborz Habibi and Christine Petré
Last updated: September 20, 2013

What Iranian op-ed options does Obama have?

Banner Icon We decided to guide the US President on how to pick and choose among Iranian media. Our Tehran-based correspondent also spoke to local journalists to hear what they thought of an Obama Op-Ed inside Iran.

Russian President Putin took the US media scene with storm last week when he suddenly appeared in the New York Times opinion section. Causing Internet buzz and widespread media attention, which made US senator McCain publish an Op-Ed in the Russian paper Pravda, Iran’s new President Rouhani, already famous for his pro-active approach and social media engagement, didn’t want to be any less innovative and quickly followed in Putin’s footsteps with an Op-Ed in the Washington Post.

The articles quickly launched a debate on whether or not we are witnessing a new trend and if so, who is next? In Iran a similar reaction has been spurred, with questions like, would President Obama publish an opinion piece in Iranian media? If he did where would he submit it and who would publish it?

To ease the workload for the President we made a list of his best options, take a look:

Bahar

The daily is one of the most famous Iranian papers with a reformist editorial line. Bahar attracts a mostly educated middle class audience and unlike many papers, it's said to be a private independent outlet. Bahar has been banned three times during the past decade. The paper was banned on April 19, 2010 and opened shop again on December 1, 2012.

Bahar has been banned three times during the past decade

“Publication of an op-ed by US president in an Iranian paper wouldn’t only be a significant diplomatic move, but also an important step to highlight the important role Iranian press is playing,” said a journalist for Bahar, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and added, “This will pave the way for world leaders to engage with Iran in a better way.”

Shargh

Supporting Rouhani’s new approach, the paper is affiliated with the reformist camp and has in particular a large audience in the capital, Tehran. The authorities have issued a ban on the paper four times in the past ten years. It was banned on September 26, 2012 for the last time and then republished on December 31, 2012 after a court acquitted it of all charges.

“Obama's Op-Ed in an Iranian paper is significant for two reasons: First of all it will simply be the US president’s response to his Iranian counterpart and also it will be the first time a US president could speak to the Iranian people and government through a legal domestic outlet,” Shargh's correspondent Sadra Mohaqeq told Your Middle East and pointed out that, “He previously shared his comments with Iranians via BBC Persian and YouTube videos but access to these media outlets is blocked and restricted here.

"An op-ed will emphasize the notability of independent media in Iran”

“And second of all it will be a move to greaten Iranian domestic media's role, given the fact that they have always faced pressure and limitations,” he added. “If the leader of the world's most powerful country chose an Iranian paper, specially a private one, for an op-ed it will emphasize the notability of independent media and private sector in Iran.”

Iran

The official state-run newspaper of Iran is traditionally backing the government in the face of other media outlets criticism, if there were any. Its low price has made it one of the most circulated newspapers, especially in recent months when the private sector has been struggling with financial shortages caused by rising price of paper, sanctions and mismanagement.

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