Iranian Newspapers, a Rough Sketch

28 September 2015 | 21:42 Code : 1952418 General category
Iranian Newspapers, a Rough Sketch

(Photo: Front page of Iranian newspapers on the day after Rouhani's return from 2013 UN General Assembley)


By: Ali Attaran


Iranian press had their prime in the late 1990s, when Mohammad Khatami's presidency brought with itself a fresh dose of freedom and revived interest in politics among the public. Yet this was a passing spring which ended with mass closure of the Reformist newspapers and magazines in 2000. Since then, the majority of Reformist media have been short-lived, some even banned before starting publication. Their cadres have been migrating from one newspaper or magazine to another, splitting and merging every once in a while. Conservative and Principlist press followed suit, improving their professional quality in terms of content and design.


The emergence of popular news websites and agencies, Persian language satellite channels such as BBC Persian, and social media has led to a significant drop in circulation of newspapers; yet their influence has been less susceptible to new modes of communication.


The following is a brief profile of mainstream newspapers, Reformist, Principlist and those whose political bent relies on the legal entity that owns them. Hopefully it will provide our readers a context when reading translated pieces.


Aftab-e Yazd (Reformist): Aftab-e Yazd originally started as a local newspaper, published in the central city of Yazd, local base of Mohammad Khatami. It turned into a national newspaper in the Reform period. Aftab-e Yazd is the only Reformist newspaper that has never been shut down by authorities.


Arman-e Emrouz (Reformist): pro-Hashemi Arman-e Emrouz is known for its tabloid style, and regular headlines in support of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Hossein Abdollahi, editor-in-chief of the newspaper, also serves as Hashemi Rafsanjani’s media advisor.


Etela’at (Centrist): Established in 1926, Etela’at, along with Kayhan, serves as one of Iran’s longest functioning newspapers. Since 1980, its editor-in-chief has been directly appointed by the Supreme Leader. The newspaper generally adopts a centrist stance with a slight bent towards the Reformist front. It supported Mohammad Khatami in the 1997 presidential election. The editor-in-chief of Etela’at is Mahmoud Doaei, a traditional Reformist figure and member of Ayatollah Khomeini’s closer circle. Doaei has served in this position for more than thirty years.


Etemaad (Reformist): Established in 2002, Etemaad, along with Shargh, is one of the longest running Reformist newspapers. It was closed from March 2010 to June 2011, and also shut down from November 20, 2011 for two months. Elyas Hazrati, member of the Reformist front and a four-time Majles representative is the owner of the newspaper.


Haft-e Sobh: Having started publishing in May 2011, Haft-e Sobh is a tabloid newspaper with a focus on entertainment and lifestyle. Although run by former Reformist journalists, it does not take an explicit political stance. The newspaper was rumored to be sponsored by Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, right-hand of Mahmoud Ahamdinejad at its inception, although such rumors were never officially established. Editor-in-chief of the newspaper is Arash Khoshkhoo, former correspondent in the Reformist teen magazine Chelcheragh.


Hamshahri (Tehran municipality organ): Established in 1992, Hamshahri is the official mouthpiece of Tehran’s municipality. The newspaper was founded by Tehran’s former mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi who was a member of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s circle. It supported Mohammad Khatami during 1997 elections and afterwards. Since 2003 and the control of the Tehran City Council by Principlists, the newspaper has taken a Principlist stance. From 2009 to 2012, the rivalry between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president and Bagher Ghalibaf as Tehran’s mayor was reflected in accusations and counter-accusations between Hamshahri, and Iran, the government’s organ.


Iran (government organ): The newspaper started publication in 1994. It is the official mouthpiece of the government and a subsidiary of Iran’s official news agency, IRNA. The political orientation of Iran changes with the election of the new president and introduction of the new cadre in the newspaper. Iran was shut down in 2006 for six months, after publishing a cartoon regarded as offensive against the Azeri ethnic community. A special issue on hijab published in June 2011, during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that included unorthodox commentaries on the Islamic veil also raised strong criticism.


Jam-e Jam (state-run TV organ): Published in the late 1990s, Jam-e Jam is the official organ of Iran’s state-run TV. The newspaper mainly focuses on lifestyle issues. Yet, since its publication in the early 2000s, it has followed a conservative, Principlist policy in line with the general policy of the state-run TV. The editor-in-chief is appointed by the head of the state-run TV.


Javan (pro-IRGC): Established in 1999, Javan is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. The newspaper in general reflects the viewpoints of the IRGC, which more or less overlap with that of the Principlist front.


Jomhouri-ye Eslami (centrist, pro-Hashemi): Published since 1979, Jomhouri-ye Eslami was established as the mouthpiece of the influential, yet short-lived Islamic Republic Party . The newspaper follows a conservative centrist line in domestic politics, critical against the policies of both Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It follows a traditional anti-Imperialist approach in foreign policy. Mir Hossein Mousavi was the first editor-in-chief of the newspaper.


Kayhan (Principlist): Established in 1942, Kayhan is an influential, controversial newspaper despite its low circulation. The newspaper is known for its vitriolic criticism of Reformist politicians. The editor-in-chief of the newspaper is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader. Hossein Shari’atmadari, its current head, is known for his pungent criticisms against the Reformists, and since the mid-2000s, against Hashemi Rafsanjani.


Resalat (conservative, Principlist): Resalat, the elder of the conservative press, started publication in 1987. Established by a number of conservative figures of the Islamic Republic, it was critical of the policies of the Left camp of the Islamic Republic and the Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Later, it became a critic of the Reformist president Mohammad Khatami.


Shargh (Reformist): Since its publication in 2003, Shargh has been probably the most prestigious Reformist newspaper. It has survived successive closures by the Judiciary, and has seen different cadres during its publication.


Vatan-e Emrooz (Principlist): Established in 2008, Vatan-e Emrooz was established by Mehrdad Bazrpash, then a political affiliate of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, it gradually distanced itself from the former president, and stood between him and the Principlist camp. The newspaper is known for its controversial headlines and front covers. Vatan-e Emrooz has been a hardline critic of the Reformists, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Rouhani.