The mainstream Western media has long forgotten Iran as a major factor of political change in the Middle East. They only remember Iran during the elections or if something nasty happens. They used to be more interested in Iranian internal issues when they were hoping that out of the entire reformist movement, something big would happen, but now it seems as if Iran has lost its importance, except for the nuclear issues. But part of the reason for this has been our own selves.
The sad reality is that Iranian intellectuals and writers figures have never been actively involved in shaping debates--or at least participating in them.
Aside from a few, mostly right-wing-backed columnists such as Amir Taheri have been writing op-ed pieces for major western newspapers.
There are numerous educated Iranians, especially from the younger generation, who are qualified and capable enough to raise important issues about Iran by writing articles, stories and opinion columns in the Western media. But it seems they suffer from two things: lack of confidence, and lack of journalistic connections.
I believe it's time to overcome these two barriers, especially while we have overcome the huge and strong barrier of language, which, in my opinion, has been the biggest cause of the problem for the last decades. Therefore we only need to find the confidence and the network we require to be able to shape important debates on Iranian issues.
The solution to both of these, I believe, lies within a favorite term of the recent years in Internet-savvy community: Peer-to-Peer networking.
All of us have different contacts in various publications in North America and in Europe. If we share them all with each other and create a network of these shared contacts, we would absolutely be able to produce a couple of insightful columns with fresh viewpoints every week in various newspapers and magazines. And if we can only keep it going for a while, it would not only help us gain the necessary confidence, but also grab the attention of the media even without much networking. Then, after a couple of years of hard work, it will be Western editors who desparately need Iranian columnists to write for them, not Iranians.
Free Thoughts on Iran could be a great starting point for such a network. We can share our journalistic and academic contacts and begin to frequently send our writings to them. They surely can't ignore the quality pieces that Free Thoughts on Iran members and editors systematically produce. We can start from the local newspapers and magazines, and once we get enough credit, we can start pitching bigger and more famous publications.
Medi Yahyanejad, one of the founders of Free Thoughts, had previously written about this problem and I think this could be a good move to actually try to find a solution.
It's time for educated Iranian men and women to start shaping the public opinions of Western people and politicians by creating debates themselves, and not leaving it to not-necessarily knowledgeable Western journalists. The big heads in the Western press might resist it for a while, but not very long. Aren't we now strong enough not to be ignored?