Negative Imagery

Adam Johnson over at FAIR has a good write up about the imagery used by news organizations in their Iran coverage. Specifically, he calls out the repeated use of the “woman in chador walks by anti-US mural” stock photo. It’s worth a read.

I’ve harped on this before, but I’m glad it’s finally getting noticed elsewhere. I’d also add the infamous “Down with the U.S.A” bombs & stripes mural to the list of overused images in foreign media coverage. I remember when we first passed by that building during my trip to Iran, my guide explained — with considerable frustration, it should be noted — that the foreign reporters he works with often request to use that mural as a backdrop for their standup shots in Tehran. It was no coincidence, then, that he knew exactly where to stand to get the perfect camera angle.

Johnson is correct to suggest that these outlets’ journalistic integrity would be better served by choosing from a broader set of images that depict the country in a more accurate light. Even something as simple as that could go a long way in countering the generally negative global image of Iran, thus increasing the possibility of future engagement on more honest terms.

Author: Jonathan Leslie

PhD candidate at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

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