My Meaningful Media

24/7 News

My father drives me nuts.

He watches the news 24/7.

BBC News, Sky News, Russia Today, Al Jazeera, CNC…in rotation, on a loop, lest he miss an angle.

At Christmas I just want to watch Corro and Elf like normal people, and yet I find myself shunted to the back room, tablet in hand and a little vexed. Not cool, Dad.

But to put it in context…

My father was born in Iran in 1956. He often regales me with stories of how he grew up in what was considered a modern, liberal country under the flamboyant last Shah of Iran. “Ahhh, it was the Paris of the East, baby…”

After studying in England, he moved back to a very different Iran in 1980. The Islamic Revolution of 1979 saw the overthrow of the Persian monarchy and its eventual replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini, the “supreme leader” of the revolution, and the country was divided.

Political and civil conflict resulted in profound changes to Iranians’ freedoms, including access to information. Newspapers were shut down while radio and television services were held by a monopoly media corporation (IRIB), which—by law—is still under the direct control of the supreme leader.

Protesters died, friends disappeared, and mass exile was rife. No World Wide Web, no Twitter, no vast access to online newsfeeds and social sharing to help understand what was happening. Information and news were either partisan propaganda or subject to a complete blackout.

This is almost unimaginable to me.

The immediacy and accessibility of information—reputable and disreputable—is so prevalent in my “media day” that I take for granted just how meaningful choice, expediency, and diversity are.

For my dad, it’s not necessarily the actual content or entertainment value of the news that is meaningful. It is the freedom to acquire information openly, to hear different versions of the same story, and to decide his own truth based on his interpretation.

My father drives me nuts.

He watches the news 24/7.

But I can’t really argue with that.