Iran News and Lobby Groups in Washington, DC
شفافیت: خبر ایران و گروه های لابی در واشنگتن
Iran as part of the Middle East is involved in a grand battle against radical Islamism, whether Shiite or Sunni, an encounter which not only has ideological and political aspects that are of interest to peaceful political and civil rights groups (1) but the situation also has intelligence and military repercussions that are of interest to the states in the region (2) and beyond (3).
In a situation described above, "it is understandable that various political groups have their lobbies in Washington DC. Arch enemies of Islamic Republic of Iran, both Iranian and those representing other countries, have their lobbies in DC. Also there are lobbies that favor Islamic Republic of Iran. There is nothing wrong for either one of these groups to exist in DC. After all this is a democracy and the lobby groups try to pass their views to US Congress in a civilized manner" but as discussed extensively with regards to pressure from intelligence agencies and lobby groups, "honest journalism requires freedom from political pressure, to report facts accurately, fairly and in a balanced way" and will suffer under such pressures, "whether one is reporting from Tehran or Washington" (4).
Actually there are three Iran-related powerful lobby groups in the city of Washington that try to influence Iran news. For the news to be objective, it is important to be transparent about such influences. The best way to be objective about the news is to say all sides of the story. In other words, the news organizations that work as part of a lobby group have every right to do so, but for Iran news to be objective, it is important that the relationship of such sources with the lobby groups to be disclosed the same way that when we quote news from Iran's state media, where we clearly specify the source to be transparent to our audience.
Currently there are three major Iran-related lobby groups in Washington, DC area. The first one is NIAC (www.niacouncil.org) which basically is in line with the views of Islamic reformists in Iran. Some Iran news agencies in the US such as Payvand.com, Iranian.com and Iroon.com are in close relations with NIAC although may not receive funding from NIAC. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is important to be transparent about it. Another powerful lobby group in DC is close to Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MEK). They publish iranfocus.com news. The third powerful lobby group in DC is a pro-Israel lobby group called CDI (http://cdi-iran.org). Its founder is Dr. Behrooz Behbudi (www.bbehbudi.net). Also Mr. Amir Abbas Fakhravar has been in the leadership of CDI. Radio Koucheh (www.radiokoocheh.com) is among the news organizations that have received funding from CDI.
Some Iranian journalists have worked in Islamic Republic for some intelligence driven journals in Iran and whether they are disenchanted with Islamic Republic of Iran or not, now working abroad, have no problem to work for intelligence driven publications or news organizations abroad. Some others may not be aware. The same is true about publications and news organizations that are driven by lobby groups. Some journalists have no problem to work for those news media. The issue here is transparency. As has been noted, "honest journalism is just that and is different from intelligence work [or lobby work], whether in Iran or in the US. If in either country anybody chooses to do intelligence work [or lobby work], it is fine and that is their job and prerogative but please let those who want to be just an honest journalist to do their work" (5).
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
January 23, 2015
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