The western world's most feared government is shaking with insurrection in the streets after a contested election and the leading name in news, CNN, is shockingly absent from the story. Twitter, meanwhile, is how Iranians are communicating with the outside world. It's the best place to follow events going on in that country and CNN's failure to engage with the story is one of the hottest topics of conversation there.
Hours after Iranian police began clashing with tens of thousands of people in the street, the top story on CNN.com remains peoples' confusion about the switch from analog TV signals.
One quip we've seen is that "Tienanmen + Twitter = Tehran." Twenty years ago this month, CNN brought live news about the Tienanmen Square uprising to the world. It's really strange that the network is absent from this story. CNN anchor and mega-Tweeter Rick Sanchez defensively Tweeted hours ago that he covered Iran throughout the afternoon on TV, so perhaps it's just the CNN.com web team that's incurring the wrath of news consumers. CNN's official Twitter account has been silent for four hours.
Update: See Tom's Tech Blog on Sunday morning for a well written critique of our coverage of these events. By Sunday morning the conflict in Iran was the top story on CNN.com, though, so the extenuating circumstances that blog post brings up don't seem to explain what took so long in the heat of the action.
Political blog aggregator Memeorandum is all Iran right now and is a great place to get in-depth information. The BBC is covering the story well, we found this video posted to YouTube. It's being passed around Twitter. These photos on Flickr are good, too. This video from LiveLeak is quite moving, if likely to cause motion-sickness. Twitter search engine Twazzup has created a great aggregator page for real-time multi-media updates from and about Iran. Andrew Sullivan writes well about the extensive use of Twitter by Iranians in the uprising. There's a collection of Twitter accounts and other media from Iranians over at Reddit. This in a country where the government recently debated applying the death penalty for subversive blogging.
Barack Obama has a good excuse for not engaging substantially with the protests in the streets - if he condemns the incumbent's claim of victory then negotiations around nuclear weapons will be much more difficult. What's CNN's excuse?
Twenty years ago CNN's coverage of Tienanmen Square made its reputation. If in twenty more years it has become consensus that real-time, online, crowdsourced media is the best place to keep up with current events, this incident could be an important part of that history unfolding.