In today's tour of state-run propaganda, Iran's propaganda outlet suddenly cares about propaganda, Egyptian state media enters the presidential race and China's People's Daily files for an IPO. We begin in Tehran.
Iranian Propaganda Calls Out Western Propaganda
In a pot kettle black moment, Iran's state-run Fars News Agency features a report on "Western Propaganda" today. At issue is a supposed interview that surfaced online earlier this month with Commincations Minister Reza Taghipour who said Iran plans to cut off access to the Internet and replace with with a national intranet system without Google or Hotmail. Now the ministry says that interview was a hoax serving "the propaganda wing of the West and providing its hostile media with a pretext emanating from a baseless claim." Contrary to the headline, the story doesn't have any evidence the hoax came from the West (it's very possible the hoax was domestic in nature). Regardless, as AFP reports, Iran does have plans to develop a type of domestic intranet called the "national information network" which is advertised as a "totally closed system" that will be fully implemented next year. Go figure.
Egypt's State Media Has Chosen the Country's Next President
Egypt's much-anticipated presidential elections may not be until May 23 but the country's state media has already rallied behind a candidate: The former vice president and spy chief of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak (pictured to the right). Great resumé, right? According to the Associated Press's Hamza Handawi, "officials with firsthand knowledge" say Omar Suleiman" will have the behind-the-scenes backing of Egypt's ruling generals and the state media's powerful propaganda machine." Suleiman promises if he becomes president he won't try to "reinvent" Mubarak's old regime if you can believe that. Apparently, the state media does because it has rallied behind him, reports Handawi. "Already, the state media, which have sided with the ruling military council against the pro-democracy groups calling for it to step down, is promoting Suleiman, presenting him as the politician with the expertise needed to spare Egypt more upheavals." Some lessons are hard to learn.
In China, IPO stands for Initial Propaganda Offering
In a smart piece in The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper latches onto a new investment opportunity in China: The People's Daily Online, i.e., the website of the Communist Party's propaganda newspaper which is filing for its IPO. "The state-owned news website is selling a minority stake in a Shanghai listing that is planned for mid-April," reports the WSJ. "It is aiming to raise 527 million yuan ($83.5 million) to upgrade its technology and improve its editorial team." If you look at the sorry state of its website (it's photo slideshows are sooo Microsoft Powerpoint), raising money to spruce things up is a business decision any web developer can get behind:
Apparently, the traffic stats don't lie either: The website ranks as the 39th most visited in the Middle Kingdom, says Web-analytics company Alexa. As the Journal's Tom Orlik notes, the IPO gives investors an interesting opportunity: You can invest in Sina, China's wildly popular and democratic micro blog, or the People's Daily, a propaganda rag. "Anyone betting censorship will win out over free speech can buy into the People’s Daily IPO and take a short position on Sina’s stock," he writes.