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Live from Tehran

Iran's New Cable News Network is propaganda, right?

12:00 AM, Jul 27, 2007 • By LOUIS WITTIG
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Allowing that a protest against Israel could potentially be notable, this one certainly wasn't. The woman's band of protestors counted less than 15 hardy dissidents. And they had been at it for over a decade: by the standards of a globe-spanning satellite news channel, it is an embarrassingly un-newsworthy story.

Setting aside boilerplate wire reports on mudslides in Mexico and forest fires in France, very little of what Press TV broadcasts could be considered actual news--from any perspective. And a news channel that doesn't report news is, well--propaganda? Geopolitical spin? Plaintive editorializing?

For now, the simplest answer to these questions is probably the best: Press TV broadcasts a guy in a collarless shirt telling the story the Iranian government wants us to hear. As the cost of starting a CNN knockoff continues to fall, more groups and governments that crave the sheen of influence such stations provide will start broadcasting. More precise definitions of legitimate and illegitimate news will follow.

Until then, it may help to remember that even when viewers take a news source at face value, the legitimacy of its perspective is dependent on the news it reports. If what it reports isn't actually news, all the perspective in the world doesn't matter.

Louis Wittig is a media writer in New York.