The Listening Post

The media momentum for war with Iran

Hyped-up headlines and unspecified threats vis-a-vis Iran. Plus, the online horrors faced by female journalists.

On The Listening Post this week: Hyped-up headlines, ‘anonymous’ sources and unspecified threats – Iran is back in the news in the US. Plus, the online horrors faced by female journalists. And our own network – Al Jazeera – comes under fire. We set the record straight. 

The media momentum for war with Iran

This would not be the first time the US media have made the case for war on the basis of vague, anonymously sourced intelligence.

In 2003, it was Iraq – in 2019, it is Iran. Much of American news reporting on US-Iran relations glosses over President Donald Trump‘s role and the history of American aggression against Iran.

While Islamic Republic – ruled by authoritarians and involved in wars in Syria and Yemen – is far from an innocent player, inflammatory headlines, unnamed sources, and decades of misinformation in the US media over Iran don’t help.


Negar Mortazavi – Consultant editor, The Independent
Ali Vaez – Iran Project director, International Crisis Group
Narges Bajoghli – Middle East Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Monalisa Freiha – Associate editor, An-Nahar Newspaper

On our radar

Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Tariq Nafi about an offensive AJ+ Arabic video on the Holocaust taken down shortly after being published.

Yaser Bishr, the executive director of Digital at Al Jazeera Media Network, responded to The Listening Post: “We at Al Jazeera deeply regret the mistake and the offence caused by content to individuals and communities across the world. I want to reiterate that Al Jazeera does not tolerate any such material on any of the network’s platforms and we are ensuring that additional processes are being put in place so that this type of error doesn’t happen again.”

They also talk about how Julian Assange now faces more charges in the US, with precedent-setting implications for mainstream news outlets.

Trolls and threats: Online harassment of female journalists

Reporters have always had to defend their work, and the trolling of journalists is now routine. But many female media professionals deal with the kind of hate messages men will never see; comments about their gender, appearance and sexuality. The language can be ugly and violent, and threats of sexual assaults and rape have grown alarmingly common.

For trolls, hiding behind an online profile is easy, and the anonymity of social media has made spreading abuse and hate as easy as a simple click.

The Listening Post spoke to two journalists – Maria Ressa in the Philippines and Sagarika Gauche in India – about their experience with online harassment, and the impact it has had on their work and wellbeing.


Maria Ressa – CEO, Rappler
Sagarika Ghose – Consulting editor, The Times of India
Hannah Storm – Former director, International News Safety Institute