The Listening Post

Iran: Diplomatic charm or harm?

How Iran’s new media-savvy president tried to use the UN General Assembly gathering to reshape the country’s image.

The annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York gives world leaders an international platform. This year, Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, used the opportunity to try and reshape Iran’s image.

The Iranian leader’s debut at the UN was timed to coincide with his op-ed in the Washington Post – a watershed moment for the US media and its relations with Iran – while an American diplomat was interviewed by the Iranian newspaper Shargh, also an unprecedented move for the Islamic Republic’s press.

Then there was the Israeli counter offensive. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used the UN stage to tell those at home and abroad that Iran’s media push was nothing more than a dangerous charm offensive.

In this week’s News Divide, we look at Iran’s new president and his message to the world. We talk to Suzanne Maloney from the Brookings Institute; journalist Hassan Beheshtipour; Jerusalem Post’s political correspondent Gil Hoffman; and Ali Reza Eshraghi from the Institute for War and Peace.

In the Newsbytes this week: First TV – Zimbabwe’s only independent news channel – shuts down after only two months of broadcasting; in Sudan, protests over fuel subsidies trigger a media crackdown; and in Italy, the leader of the main opposition party, Beppe Grillo stormed the headquarters of Italy’s national public broadcaster to protest against political influence in the media.

This week’s feature looks at the launch of Israel’s international news channel: In recent years, Qatar, Russia, France and China have all bankrolled international news channels to broadcast their perspective to the world. The latest country to do this is Israel, with the recent launch of i24. Airing in three different languages, including French, Arabic and English, the channel’s target audience is clearly not Israeli. But unlike its competitors, i24 claims to be independent of any government funding. To find out more about the station, its mission and its prospects, the Listening Post’s Flo Phillips went to Tel Aviv.

Finally, Marina Shifrin is a former employee of the Taiwanese based firm, Next Media Animation (NMA) and has been causing quite a stir online. Instead of tendering a letter of resignation, she uploaded a video of resignation to Youtube which has since gone viral. Considering that NMA specialises in viral videos and its response has not received nearly as much attention, the company may well regret losing her. “An Interpretive Dance For My Boss is our online video of the week


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