Doctor of Philosophy
Graduate School of Journalism
Kia, Ali Asghar, A review of journalism in Iran: the functions of the press and traditional communication channels in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Graduate School of Journalism, University of Wollongong, 1996. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/1882
This thesis is essentially a study of the development of the Iranian press, principally in the latter 19th Century and early 20th Century, and its relationship with traditional Communications systems during the broad period of the Constitutional Revolution, a seminal event in contemporary Iranian history. Although the core period of the Constitutional Revolution was 1906-11, the thesis also studies the role of both mass and traditional Communications systems in the preparatory period from the early 1880s. Furthermore, it looks more briefly at the aftermath of the Constitutional period until 1925 when the Pahlavi dynasty succeeded to the throne of Iran.
Thus, the thesis examines the press and its evolving role in Iranian society during a crucial period of more than 50 years after establishing a context for the introduction of printing and a press tradition in Iran. Overall, the Iranian press has had a turbulent history of some 150 years complicated by the country's struggle for democracy and national independence. The fortunes of the press have followed the politicai fortunes of the country. From the early 19th century until the Islamic revolution of 1979, the print media has been strictly controlled by the politicai regimes.
The Constitutional Revolution was the first step toward the realisation of freedom of press in Iran. However, the revolutionary forces were defeated by strong feudal elements w h o were supported by British and Russian imperialists. Nevertheless, one of the most remarkable features of the revolution was the rapid development of publications and the creation of new forms of politicai journalism which deeply influenced the m o d e m history of Iran. During the revolutionary period, the number of publications increased and journalism as a social instrument of change played a significant role in enlightening the Iranian people. This thesis considers in particular three types of publications: the Politicai papers, the Humorous or satire (Tanz) and Nocturnal Letters (Shabnameh) or Underground Papers. Then, three functions of the press during the mobilisation of 1906-12 are identified and analysed:
• The leadersliip function of the politicai press;
• The persuasion or stimulative function of the humorous or satire (Tanz) papers; and
• The information function of the nocturnal letters (Shabnameh) or underground papers.
This thesis will also briefly discuss the Iranian exile publications and their functions.
Analysis of politicai and satire (Tanz) papers in particular reveals the manner in which the press played an active role in the social awakening of the Iranian people during the constitutional revolutionary period. Iran's politicai press expanded dramatically between 1900-1925, and some of those papers, notably the Sure-Israfil (The Angel of Resurrection), the Habl al-Matin (Firm Cord), the Mosavat (Equality), and Nasime- Shomal (Northern Breeze), played a serious role in popular enlightenment. Today, we cannot understand Iranian journalism without tracing its historical, politicai and economic backgrounds. Hence, a part of this thesis is devoted to the socio-political and economic development culminating in the Constitutional Revolution, so as to establish a context for the analysis of print media, bazaar and mosque systems of communication.
In addition to the print media (Newspapers & Magazines), the traditional communication channels, especially the bazaar and pulpit (Minbar) , also played a central role as politicai channels during the Constitutional Revolution.From the early 19th century until the Islamic Revolution of February 1979, the bazaar in Iran was constantly in conflict with the various politicai regimes in power. Historically, the bazaar in Iran has also served as a centre of urban life and an effective communication and politicai network largely independent of central government. During the constitutional revolutionary period the bazaar and merchants were the main agents of revolution, with the emergent press essentially complementing their decisive role. The thesis compares and assesses the respective role and contribution of both the formal mass Communications channels through the press and traditional Communications system through bazaar and mosque. While it stresses the overriding importance of these traditional channels in the Constitutional Revolutionary period, it also argues that during this period the basis was established for an increasingly viable and influential system of mass Communications in Iran.