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"Interesting If True" Rule Proven Yet Again in #Amina Syrian Blog Hoax

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, June 13 2011

Back in April, I remember reading this amazing blog post that was forwarded around on Twitter about how a gay woman in Syria had nearly been arrested in the middle of the night, but somehow her father bravely confronted the secret police thugs who came to their door and convinced them to walk away. "Wow, that's almost too good to be true," I thought to myself, and wondered how it could be possible that "My Father, the hero" hadn't been summarily arrested or executed, given the realities of the Syrian regime. I didn't blog or tweet the story, but plenty of well-meaning people did, sending the blog into orbit and nearly a million page views. Well, as NPR's Andy Carvin and others have now demonstrated conclusively, the entire "Gay Girl in Damascus" blog was a complete hoax, written by an American living in Turkey named Tom McMaster who claims it was a fictional writing project that "got way out of hand."

Moral: Listen to Dan Gillmor, who has been making this point for ages. Stories like "Gay Girl in Damascus" belong in the "interesting if true" category.


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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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