VOA Persian's "Parazit" gets some static on Al Jazeera English.

Posted: 29 Nov 2011   Print   Send a link
Al Jazeera English, "The Stream," 17 Nov 2011: "Parazit: Voice of America or voice of the people? Can the VOA help Iran’s pro-reform movement, or is it peddling Washington’s agenda?" Video interview and discussion with Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi, host and producer of "Parazit" on VOA Persian News Network.

This episode of "The Stream" was uneven and at times chaotic, but overall it was an interesting discussion about the highly publicized "Parazit." Parazit's host and producer received their first tough questions since their appearance on NPR's "On the Media," 14 Jan 2011. The host of "The Stream" raised some of the issues I mentioned in the USC CPD Magazine, 22 June 2011.

During the program, questioners and critics noted that Parazit, as part of VOA, was funded by the US government. The obvious response (which I would have forgotten, too, in the heat of the moment) is that Al Jazeera is also government funded. Is "The Stream" therefore propaganda? Is BBC World Service propaganda?

The concept of news that is funded by a government but not controlled by that government is slightly difficult to explain. I attempted such explanations in the New York Times on 16 Nov 2002 and 4 June 2007.

Iranian.com, 26 Nov 2011, bahmani: The host of "The Stream" "said 'Millions of Iranians watch Parazit', and that the show is produced by the VOA. The truth is that the show is produced by Saman Arbabi, who like many Iranians is a technically gifted and creative one-man machine. If you watch the show, you can see this in action. Pre-set stand alone cameras pointed at the host, Kambiz Hosseini, an actor by trade, an angry Iranian by birth, and a gifted comedian by God, performs his well-timed pointed schtick with the green screen, animated edits, and sound effects courtesy of whatever meal Arbabi intends to serve us each week. The truth is that the show is merely BROADCAST by the VOA."