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Top Media Industry Story of 2009: #iranelection

As 2009 draws to a close, it is time to look back on the most important developments in the media business this past year.

My nomination is the volcano of protest that erupted one Saturday in June in the streets of Tehran, soon spreading to other Iranian cities, after a contested election.

Thanks to the new metric called "trending topics" at Twitter, we now know that #iranelection was the top news story of the year. Two more of the top five topics also related to the widespread rebellion by Iranian citizens against their repressive regime -- a rebellion that continues, and is chronicled -- at Twitter to this day.

The reason this particular development matters so much is it represented a transformative moment in the history of media, a moment when ordinary people took over the means of communication from the traditional media industry as well as from an oppressive government that had banned all media from covering what was happening in the streets.

Media will never be the same. Twitter has emerged as what I like to call the "breaking news channel of choice." In its wake, CNN and the like were reduced to providing their coverage of what was happening inside Iran by reporting what was being posted to #iranelection.

Much more significantly, oppressive governments everywhere became frightened by this unanticipated new freedom by people to communicate with each other outside of the strict lines approved by the government.

The Iranian regime, though weakened, remains in power, but the terms of governance have been altered permanently. And our traditional media industry has been shaken to its core, and is searching for a new role in the shifting landscape of an interconnected, networked, social media world.

Bnet Media Covergae of #iranelection: Fox Only Network Providing Live Coverage of Iran "Inside the highly competitive world of cable television news, programming decisions taken in the middle of events like those now occurring inside Iran can lead to significant business advantages over the longer term. Audience spikes during a crisis inevitably contribute to audience growth even after public interest in the crisis passes..."

The Business Lessons from Twitter's Role in Iran "This is not a good time to hold a title like the "Supreme Leader" in Iran. For a week now, huge crowds of protesters have been defying Iran's autocratic leadership to demand political change..."

When Will (Post-Iran) Twitter Grow a Business Model? "One perplexing difficulty we face here at Bnet as we document Twitter's prominent role the events unfolding in Iran is the young company's utter lack of any apparent business model..."

U.S. State Department to Twitter: "Stay Up" "If there were any doubters left about the importance of social media in the ongoing rebellion occurring in Iran, today's intervention by the U.S. government, requesting that the micro-blogging service Twitter delay its scheduled maintenance shutdown, should put an end to any debate..."

Foreign Media Banned in Iran so Twitter and YouTube Rock On "News coverage of the situation in Tehran and other Iranian cities today has reverted back to the early stages of the rebellion last Saturday, i.e., once again we have to get most of our news from social media..."

Using Social Media, Iranians Outwit Regime "Apparently, there's not going to be any actual regime change anytime soon inside Iran, but that country is undergoing a fundamental revolution nonetheless..."

Iran: Twitter Users' Outrage at CNN, Fox Triggers Coverage "The riveting coverage of the massive rebellion by what BBC estimates to be over a million people in the streets of Tehran continues over Twitter. In addition, European media have been providing active coverage led by eyewitness reports from reporters like Robert Fisk..."

Twitter Users Put CNN to Shame on Iran Riot Coverage "Yesterday may have been a slow news day in the U.S. but in Tehran and other major Iranian cities there was major rioting in response to the government's announcement that reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had lost the Presidential election by a landslide to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad..."

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