A Persian Amsterdammer Blogs.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Happy Birthday Zamaneh!

Five years ago a man with almond eyes, long hair in a pony tail and a Frank Zappa style moustache and goatee walked into our cultural center Mezrab. After sitting for a while and asking some questions about what we do in our center he introduced himself as Mehdi Jami, the director of an about to be launched media platform called Zamaneh. He was looking for young and interesting people with something to share with the world to join him in creating this station.

I had been a bit sad that summer. My band members had left for a tour of Eastern Europe, and I was alone, working in the cultural center. When the bandmembers returned I said I had a new job: creating a weekly show on world music for this station that broadcasts into Iran through satelite and internet.

In the years that have passed I was always its strongest supporter as well as its biggest critic. It's not hard to imagine why I supported Zamaneh. A young station operating independently and allowing for different voices to be heard and tell their stories. A platform in which both the new generation as well as the old guard was creating shows. How can you not be excited about this? I always defended Zamaneh when paranoid Iranians (and there are oh so many of them) accused Zamaneh of being a mouth-piece of the Mullahs, the CIA or in some cases both. Or when during the post election turmoil of 2009 some thought that Zamaneh should abandon independent journalism and clearly take sides with the Green Movement.

I have also been a critic, voicing my discontent with some programmes, suggesting improvements in other fields, but always out of respect for what was there: a station that, if it survived, would be instrumental in creating a template for journalism that Iran needs: uncensored, respectful, deep-digging, impartial, independent. I voiced criticism not just to be a grouch, but to help improve what I loved and respected.

I'm happy to say that Zamaneh is still around, and still improves on the old formula. There's an operational English site that on a daily basis gives us news about Iran in English:

It teaches aspiring journalists the basics of journalism, it is the only major Iranian news outlet with a page dedicated to Queer issues (homo-emancipation). These are only a few of the reasons I love Zamaneh. Others have their own parts they read and follow. Is Zamaneh today what it needs to be tomorrow? I feel it has a long way to go, but I see it's getting there and I enjoy opening it daily to read the new articles and analysis.

And it did show its fans that it's here to stay. Those who are not pleased with Zamaneh can choose to wish its death (something Iranians are very good at, how many projects did we see come and go while we only grumbled about how bad it was without doing anything ourselves?), or submit ideas, articles, comments and critique, and in this way help to build the platform we can all be proud of.

I look forward to the coming five years!

No comments: