Saturday, June 20, 2009

The World Should Be Cheering Nico Pitney

More than MSNBC, BBC or CNN; more than The New York Times or The Independent; more than perhaps any other news outlet, the world should be cheering - and thanking - Nico Pitney.

For seven days, his live blogging at Huffingto Post of the Iranian election uprising has kept the world informed of what is happening inside Tehran and other cities. He’s become a link and a lifeline between heroic Iranians defying the authorities who find ways to send cell phone videos and Tweets with the latest raw footage and information.

Even better, like any good journalist, he works hard to verify information before posting it and, if he cannot, he says the information is unverified.

Moreover, Pitney is breaking news faster than the MSM can get it out. For example, on Saturday morning while Reuters was citing Iranian state media claims that the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic, was hit by a suicide bomber, Pitney was blogging that the only people talking about the bombing was the state media. He’d received no confirmed reports from people in Tehran keeping him posted via Twitter. Hours after the alleged incident, Pitney was still unable to confirm the bombing but was carrying detailed information on which embassies were accepting people wounded by policy, the army, Revolutionary Guards and the Basiji militia.

On Saturday afternoon, he was passing along verifiable messages that presidential candidate Mousavi was on Jayhoon St., speaking to demonstrators.

As important, Pitney is showing the world what the streets are link, including this remarkable cell phone video of unarmed demonstrators squaring off against the heavily armed Basiji.

He posted another video that YouTube removed so Pitney uploaded it to the HuffPo server, showing a seriously wounded young woman who dies as the video is shot. Caution: The video is extremely graphic.

Pitney worked in relative obscurity until Rachel Maddow interviewed Pitney during the week. I tried reaching him today and was thanked effusively but told he’s too busy keeping up with the massive street fighting. It’s totally understandable; in fact, shortly afterward, he modified his g-mail address posting by asking people to not send him congratulatory notes because too many important messages from Iran were already clogging his account.

When the dust settles and journalism award time rolls around, let’s hope that his amazing work is recognised.

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