PHOTO: Iranian women journalists covering this month’s nuclear talks in Vienna
Mansoureh Farahani writes for IranWire:
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance issued Iranian journalists with new censorship guidelines on July 22. Journalists and editors were told that failure to follow the directive could result in prosecution.
In what has been termed a “highly confidential” letter, the ministry’s press and information department released detailed instructions on how the country’s reporters should cover the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries, which was signed in Vienna on July 13.
In the directive, journalists are forbidden from publishing any articles that suggest rifts among “high-ranking authorities in Iran” — referring to President Rouhani’s administration and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and his closest allies. In addition, journalists have been told to not report on anything that “indoctrinates” the public into believing that the nuclear deal goes “against the nation, Islam, or revolutionary values and ideals;” they have also been instructed not to report anything that might “polarize society”.
Quoting foreign ministers or members of the negotiating teams from any of the P5+1 countries is also off limits, unless the reporter allows for a “decent response” from Iranian negotiators.
In addition to bans on general criticism of the Vienna talks and the resulting deal, members of the press have been informed they should always emphasize the fact “American extremists and Zionists are opposed to the deal” and have “respect and praise for [Iranian] negotiators” in all news reports, demonstrating their “courage, politeness and professionalism” at all times. Journalists must frame the talks as a “unique” political event and “historical agreement”.
Under Iranian media law, the press are obligated to follow the directive. Journalists who fail to do so could face prosecution, and associated publications could face temporary closures lasting two months. It remains to be seen how the media will respond, and whether some agencies will risk defying certain aspects of the ban.