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Rogue Journalism: From Iran to Refugee Camps

What do you do when you have the manpower, the brainpower, and the news itself, but you don’t have the right to print? These journalists–one reporting out of a heavily censored country and the other from a country where the refugee residents have no rights–got around the government barriers to create functional and even sophisticated news outlets.

T.P. Mishra is the President of the Third World Media Network and the editor of the Bhutan New Service. In his new online series for Media Helping Media, he is outlining how refugees can start their own media organizations from their refugee camps. Because these temporary camps often become permanent homes where many end up spending the majority of their lives, the need for schools and other community fundamentals arises. But with out any rights in the country you call home, the task becomes even more difficult.

And if you want to fill an information void but can’t be on the ground, Kelly Golnoush Niknejad explains in Foreign Policy how she managed to start a remote news bureau in Tehran.

To be based in Tehran means to constantly be censored and to self censor just to ensure you will be able to remain in the country, according to Niknejad. “You are likely to have to work with a semiofficial minder or show your articles to an agent from the intelligence ministry before it is published,” says Niknejad. “I was once offered access to any official I wanted, if I were willing to submit. I declined.”

What might have saved Niknejad’s Tehran Bureau is that from the beginning, her and her classmate from Columbia decided that they would not become a purely oppositional outlet. Instead of becoming an underground news source read in small circles, they sought interviews from those with varying political opinions and even attempted to get official accreditation.

Like Niknejad, Mishra also attempted to follow the law as much as possible. In fact, his first rule is to know the country’s laws. And as he goes on to explain, to know which ones need to be followed.