Introduction to Iran News Media
What strikes the moment you hear or read ‘Iran’? Is it the hardliner Islamic outlook or the mesmerizing culture? There’s no doubt that middle-eastern countries have had an unfortunate plight over the past few decades. Iran however, has a different story and is one of the very few Islamic countries to have come out stronger.
Iran has a literacy rate of 97% which is more than most developing nations including India. Being the second-largest country of the Middle-East, Iran is looked up for its relatively liberal outlook and the love it has for Persian poetry and cinema.
Not ignoring the role of the Persian media, the country’s urban growth rate is the highest in the word (60%). Which means, the population is forward looking and consumes content from newspapers, news websites, blogs, magazines and editorials.
History of Iranian Media
Iran is one of the first countries in the world that embraced journalism. The first Iranian newspaper is said to have appeared in the 19th century. Started in 1837, Kaghaz-e-Akhbar is believed to be the oldest Persian newspaper in the world. In less than a century, the country already had 90 fully operational daily newspapers. For country the size of Iran, this is an impressive number.
The major breakthrough in Iranian media happened during the Iranian revolution of 1979 that changed the government forever. The revolution started by the media professionals resulted in a newer Islamic Republic of Iran that vowed to commit by the principles of Islam. And this transition had a major impact on the Iranian newspapers and journals of that time.
In the newer laws, all the newspapers and broadcasting services were brought under government’s scrutiny. The censorship became stricter while rapidly declining the freedom of press in the country.
Conservative Islamic Outlook
Despite a fast growing economy, Iran is a repressive country for media agencies. As per the 2019 Reporters without Borders, Iran ranked 170 out of 180 countries on the Press Freedom Index. The government has repeatedly promoted itself towards boosting journalism in the country. However, it is criticized for impractical regulation guidelines, consistent banning of Persian newspapers, websites and any public journal that questions the government. Iran has also become the country with the highest number of jailed journalists.
Consequentially, this has ignited a new wave of reformist publications that advocate for the rights of the journalists. So today, the Iranian media landscape is a mixture of forward looking and conservative publications.
Iran Media today – Newspapers & News Websites
Iranian newspapers have been around more than a 100 years and face the direct wrath of the government. However, those in the digital spectrum enjoy the liberty while reaching 120 million Persian speaking people in the world.
While most Iranian newspapers and news websites are published in the Persian language, the consumption for English journals has surged in the past few years. By 2016, Iran had registered 178 newspapers, more than 80 magazines, 15000 information websites and close to 2 million blogs. Needless to say, these are huge numbers for an Islamic country of the middle-east.
The below classification will help to understand the Iranian media efficiently.
A.Top Iranian Newspapers & News websites in Persian
B.Top Iranian Newspapers & News Websites in English
C.Other Important Newspapers & News Websites
A. Top Iranian Newspapers & News websites in Persian
The following Iranian newspapers and news websites majorly publish in the Persian language. Additionally, they may or may not be published in any other language.
Beytoote has come a long way since its inception in 2009. In less than a decade of operations, this online Persian news service has become the most popular publication in its league. In early 2020, the publication confirmed more than 7 lakh daily visitors to their website.
Considerably, this is a major breakthrough for a publication in a relatively smaller country like Iran. Unlike most Islamic countries, Iranians have always embraced knowledge and that clearly shows from the large volumes of content published by Beytoote.
The Persian news website features a collection of over 150 titles that range from national and global politics, religion, trade news, sports, healthcare, tourism, technology, psychology, automobiles, homecare and fashion.
In 2009, while the South Asian country was waking up to the digital trends, the founders of Beytoote were quick to sense the explosive potential in the contemporary medium. After receiving fairly positive reviews to their simplistic approach at publishing content, Beytoote didn’t look back and kept the website design philosophy, unchanged.
As the most popular Persian news service in Iran, Beytoote has received many recognitions including the most visited Iranian website as stated by global website ranking portal, Alexa. While the International Festival of Digital Media conferred it as the best portal for contribution towards Iranian culture and the practice of Hijab and Chasity. Not to miss, the Entrepreneur of the year award from the Iranian Chamber of Commerce was a massive boost to the website’s repute.
Going forward, Beytoote wants to reach a wider audience beyond Iran while committing to the neutral stance on inclination towards a particular political entity or a religious group. The website service is operated from the beautiful city of Isfahan.
As a nation swaying between the religious conservativeness and the zest to adorn contemporary outlook, Iran’s journalists have a greater role to play. While there are frequent cases of corruption and press freedom issues, certain publications in the digital space have revamped their stance in transparent reporting. And Jam News is one such initiative that aims to act as a public watchdog on those in charge of the country’s administrative affairs.
Jam News is a rare news analysis and fact validation website in the Persian language. Primarily focusing on the political affairs within and outside Iran, Jam News has recently extended its reporting services to Culture & Society and Economy. Founded by renowned journalist Mohammad Javad Askari, Jam News has been a proactive and informed observer of incidents of all types.
Given the prompt news capturing and reporting, the news features are detailed and thoroughly backed by authentic facts. Quick in reporting, the publication is fairly popular across social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. It is based out of Tehran and owned by Mohammad Javad Askari.
Young Journalists Club
The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) wanted to bring more youth in the journalism industry. Thus, to encourage more students take up mass media courses, the IRIB launched this news agency in 1999. Since then, the Young Journalists Club (YJS) has produced hundreds of journalists and media professionals for the fast evolving digital industry. Besides teaching journalism skills, the agency provides field experience to budding professionals.
The courses are designed for students from different education levels such as preliminary and supplementary. Students those who complete the multi-level training course receive a press card to work as a freelance reporter with the club. However, the course certification with the club is widely accepted by all media groups in Iran.
The publication runs a series a newspapers, journals and a website news service in Persian, Arabic and English. As one of the top 5 most followed news websites in Iran, this publication caters to a long list of topics such as economics, politics, international affairs, sports, cultural arts, medical science and cinema. Since every subject further classifies into sub headings of exclusive topics, the Young Journalists Club is the most extensive news website in Iran. With an explosively growing footprint in the social media space, the website is largely popular among youth. The publication also earns official affiliation from the nation’s state broadcaster. The publication also features a lineup of epapers from the country’s leading newspapers.
Financial dependence calls for the end of media freedom; that’s the force driving Iran’s largest independent news service. In 2006, a group of journalists grouped to produce an independent publication that would not accept enterprise funding from any particular entity.
The idea was to nullify external influence in journalism and thus savor the spirit of brave, accurate and quick reporting of facts to the citizens. Till date, the publication assures that none of the board members hold any position in the Iranian government. Also, it is one of those few publications to have resisted the temptation of financial backing from several groups.
Asr Iran was founded by Jafar Mohammadi who gathered support from other media professionals towards forming a publication entity that stands up for the human rights, questions the authorities and does transparent reporting of events in the interest of the nation. Asr Iran has a vast presence in the digital space. While the website does critical reporting in health, finance and politics, the social media pages engage thousands of readers into important discussions.
Going forward, the publication aims to hold on to its independent stance by pulling revenue from advertisements and contract reporting. However, the media group is open to receive all government subsidies meant for the media industry. With initiatives like these, more independent publications have dared to venture into independent journalism in print and digital mediums.
Besides critical subjects, Asr Iran is also popular for featuring lifestyle content such as wellness, healthcare, religion, culture and philosophy.
Asr Iran is based in Tehran with a team of freelance reporters extending its reach to every corner of the country.
Donya-e-Eqtesad is Iran’s most popular business newspaper service that does comprehensive reporting of trade analysis, trends and predictions. It was founded in 2002 by businessman Alireza Bakhtiari to bestow a journalistic voice to the trader’s community of the country.
Being a progressive country of the Islamic world, Iran has seen a surge in the consumption of trade news among the population. Henceforth, economic publications led by Donya-e-Eqtesad have been pulling more readers towards trade analytics content.
With no formal affiliation with the government, Donya-e-Eqtesad has been a moderate critique of the state policies. Advocating for the state’s economic growth, the publication is known as the flag bearer of free markets and trader’s rights. However, a Center-right political affiliation can’t be ignored. As one of the top 10 daily Iranian newspapers, Donya-e-Eqtesad has a raging following among the business community of Iran.
Helmed by Alireza Bakhtiari, the newspaper and website service is operated under the label of Taban Media Group. The publication house also produces a weekly business journal, one Arabic business newspaper and one English daily paper.
As a trade news analysis agency, Donya-e-Eqtesad publishes editorial articles, current affairs, discussion boards, business forecasting, leadership opinion and a swaddle of other content formats across social media platforms. Since Iran is one of the major players in the global Oil industry, Donya-e-Eqtesad extensively covers the Oils & Exploration and the Energy sector. Besides, banking, civil engineering, mining and automobile are other important areas covered by the daily newspaper.
The publication is headquartered in Tehran.
Iranian Students News Agency
Published by the students and for the students, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) is one of the most popular media entities from Iran. It was founded in 1999 to provide news material and classified information from all the universities of Iran. Started as a journal, the publications from ISNA have expanded into a daily paper, a full grown website in 4 languages and a highly interactive social media presence.
As an agency meant for producing more students in journalism, ISNA has over 1000 student volunteers from different fields. All of these account for more than half of the staff including editors and reporters. Not to miss, the internships and other certification programs offered by the agency have a greater acceptability not just in Iran but all over the world.
Although the publication holds a politically neutral stance, it is funded by the Academic Center for Education, Culture & Research (ACER). Despite earning a respectable repute, the journey never came easy for its founder, Abolfazl Fateh. Abol who was a proactive social activist had struggled his way to sustain the spirit of brave reporting. Besides being pressurized from the government agencies, he has suffered death threats, attacks and trips to courts for reporting against those in the power. However, Abol’s growing popularity couldn’t hold back global publications in extending their support. In June 2003, The Guardian reported that it was unfair to ignore the injury caused to Dr Abolfazl Fateh.
In January 2005, the hosting of the ISNA’s web platform was withdrawn abruptly and it was speculated a job to stop the publication.
As of today, ISNA provides unparalleled reporting from economic affairs, politics, international relations and others. The website is one of the top 10 most popular in Iran is published in Persian, Arabic, French and English.
Mehr News Agency
Next on the list is Mehr News Agency, a fast growing media group that publishes in the most number of languages. Owned by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization, Mehr News Agency was founded by Parviz Esmailii on 22ns June 2003 with a vision to take Iranian publication to the global audience. Started in Persian language, the agency expanded to English on the Occasion of Religious Information Day. As of today, the agency publishes journals, website news, magazines and other forms of editorials in Persian, English, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Urdu.
In order to expand its reach to every corner of the country, the agency established multiple offices at the provincial level. The 5 regional centers of the agency are broadly classified into – Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern and Western Iran. Each of these regional centers are responsible to cover all 30 provinces in the country. As a result, the agency employs more than 300 reporters, photographers and correspondents in the field providing the widest coverage in Iran.
Beyond Iran, the agency covers Europe, South America, East Asia, turkey and parts of Persian littoral states and CIS countries. Given such comprehensive reach, the agency is one of the most widely known Iranian news groups in the world.
Acknowledging their extensive contribution to the Asian journalism, the agency was enlisted as the 40th official member of the Association of the Asian and Oceanic News Agencies. Taking its global cooperation initiatives to newer levels, MNA has signed contracts with more than 20 prestigious news agency in the world including those in Japan, Europe, China, Cuba, India, Vietnam and multiple African countries.
Headquartered in Tehran, the Mehr News Agency covers wide range of topics such as Arts & Culture, Cinema & Literature, Religion impact, Social, Political, Sports, International Affairs and Modern Technology.
The Tabnak Information Center aims to enhance the level of information and insights among the Iranian population, In this regard, the news service provides a wide coverage of topics such as economics, politics, social welfare, sports, literature, religion, markets, international affairs, healthcare and a lineup of editorial magazine sections.
The Tabnak Information Center was founded in 2007 when the Iranian media was waking up to the digital revolution. It is one of the first Iranian news services to have directly ventured into the website and not the print media. Besides confirming absolute neutral stance on political affiliation, the Tabnak media center also holds no specific inclination towards a subject. It does comprehensive coverage of all the mentioned topics. What makes it more detail is the news reporting at the provincial level.
As a fast growing Iranian news website service, Tabnak continues to expand to other topics and content delivery formats such as editorials, magazines, newsletters and social media discussions. Although the team is relatively smaller, the media entity is being driven by digital writers and marketers.
The Tabnak Information Center is headquartered in Tehran. Besides presence on the mobile, the news publication is fairly popular on the social media.
Khabar Online is a news publication and fact analysis website service in Iran. Started in 2008, the objective of the media entity was to diagnose the media reports, derive accurate conclusions and thus produce correct news facts for mass consumption. However, with time and experience in understanding the Persian media sector, the agency has evolved into a full grown news correspondence service.
Although committed to the ideals of the Islamic Revolution and the laws of the Republic of Iran, the news agency still takes a neutral stance at any political or enterprise backing. Like many others in the league, Khabar Online is an independent media service that depends entirely on the advertisement revenue. Henceforth, the group has struggled its way to turn down enterprise funding.
Khabar Online has been a critique of the government policies no matter how bad the repercussions are. In fact, the editorial approach of the agency goes beyond the mainstream coverage towards digging deeper into the incident and extract the truth. Therefore, it is highly regarded by the readers in Iran and other parts of the world for pointed and uncompromised reporting.
Khabar Online has a detailed classification of topics. For example, the header Economics further categorizes into multiple sectors while the Politics classifies into leadership, different political outfits and the military. The same holds true for other major titles such as Entertainment, Sports and International Affairs. The website has also begun to cover Information Technology, Astronomy, Tourism and other lifestyle topics.
Islamic Republic News Agency
IRNA is the official press agency of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is completely funded and controlled by the government. It is directly managed by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance through 60 offices spread all over the country. Moreover, the agency in collaboration with several other reputed news agencies has established over 30 offices in other parts of the world.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Agency has an eventful story that was known as the Pars Agency at the time of inception in 1934. The Pars Agency was formed to function as the official press news outlet of Iran (Persia) under the government’s Foreign Ministry. It produced bulletins twice a day in Persian and French language for the local and international readers. Joining the league of collaborative journalism, the Pars Agency associated with Reuters, Anatolia News Agency, the Associated Press, the United Press International and many others.
12 years after 1963 when the Pars Agency was brought under the newly formed Information Ministry, it joined the public stock and earned a greater repute among other major news agencies of the world. However, in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution, another newly formed ministry called the Ministry of Information and Tourism was given the complete control of the national news agency. This was the time when the agency’s name was finally changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran Agency (IRNA).
IRNA publishes a broadcast newspaper known as Iran alongside a website news service and mobile apps. As of today, it is the most important media news agency in Iran that is solely responsible to release official statements on behalf of the government. Working as the core source of information dissemination, IRNA’s professional aim is to secure the interest of the country.
Seemorgh is an Iranian lifestyle and news feature publication. Founded in 2006, Seemorgh is one of the few editorials in the digital space that have ranked higher with their informal approach at content and discussions.
Ever since its inception, the website ranks among the top 10 lifestyle editorials in Iran. The website is known for extensive range of topics that are discussed under each category. It is broadly categorized into 7 major headlines such as Culture & Arts, Entertainment, Health & Wellness, Lifestyle, Sports and Major News. There are more than 50 sub categories that the website produces content for every day.
Founded in 2011, Mashregh News is a news website service in Iran that is popular for its biased stance towards the Iranian government and breaking news information from international affairs. Although the media group is one of the top websites in the Persian language, it is still criticized for being partial towards Iranian government, Intelligence and Military services. While the agency has repeatedly denied any association or backing from the government, critiques have questioned it for spreading misinformation on several occasions.
The Anti-Defamation League had accused the Mashregh News of denying the occurrence of Jews Holocaust and citing that Nazis outsourced soap manufacturing to the Jews.
Mashregh News is globally known for its conservative and biased stance towards the Islamic practices. In 2011, the website faced the wrath for censoring the chest and arms of a woman’s picture who was released from the jail.
However, a major controversy hit again in 2012 when the website accused Hollywood of promoting homosexuality while referring to Tel-Aviv as the gay paradise on earth.
Like any other major Persian language journal, Mashregh News covers a wide range of topics including Islamic society, Jihad and others.
Shahr-e-Khabar is the largest aggregator of Iranian news journals, websites and editorials. It covers news features from all Persian language newspapers, journals, editorials and news agencies. The website is known for featuring news quickly as soon as it features on the original sources.
Started as a news aggregator platform, Shahr-e-Khabar is a full grown search engine for consuming Persian news. The website is broadly categorized into Economics, Sports, Politics, Health, Lifestyle, Arts & Culture, Technology, Tourism and other miscellaneous subjects.
The news articles can also be searched based on hashtags, popularity and any particular publication. As a growing database of all news publications, Shahr-e-Khabar is often looked upon for historical data about a particular incident which is of greater importance for ness analytics agencies. It is based in Tehran.
Al-Alam TV News
As the most popular broadcaster of Arabic news in Iran, the Al-Alam is a government funded TV channel and news website service in Tehran. It is owned and directly managed by the state run media cooperation Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
The Al-Alam TV news channel was founded in February 2003 with a vision to communicate Iranian opinion to the Arab world. Fast forward today, Al-Alam TV reaches over 300 million viewers in the Arab world. This makes it one of the top most viewed TV news channels in the Arabic countries especially those in Persian Gulf and Mediterranean regions.
Owning to its rising repute in the Arab world. The TV channel has successfully tapped upon the Islamic sentiment and received rave reviews for its coverage of several incidents such as the war against Saddam Hussein, the Gaza War, the 2006 Lebanon War and many others.
Despite such raging popularity, Al-Alam TV has been a controversial publication in other countries. In 2008, the United States officially declared Al-Alam and several other IRIB sponsored publications as terrorist entities. In 2009, Israel imprisoned two of the channel’s correspondents for reporting on the Israeli land against the country.
Al Alam TV launched its English news website in 2006 while the Persian version as introduced in 2007. Collectively, it is one of the largest media groups in Iran and the Arab world.
Farda News is an Analytical news agency in Iran that publishes highly opinionated content on its website. As a full grown website news service, Farda News does evaluative reporting of critical topics such as state security, politics, international affairs, economic trends and cross border relations. Without losing its focus off the subjects in target, Farda News digs deeper into the news information while producing an assessment of the fact authenticity.
The approach is thoroughly backed by several guest editors who consider the platform as a great stage to put counter opinion. As far as the political alignment stance is considered, Farda News hasn’t committed to any side. In fact, it is one of those few Iranian news publications that are looked up to by the western media. Not to miss, the discussion forums have helped the publication attain a democratic stance for public voice. It is based in Tehran.
Entekhab was an Iranian newspaper that was operational between 1991 and 2004. It was founded by young journalist Mohammad Mahdi Faghihi. The paper earned rave reviews for its transparent and brave reporting about the government policies before it was finally banned in 2004.
Despite facing the wrath from the government, the founder publisher continued criticizing the government in different capacities such as social activism and guest writing and finally revamping the news brand in form of a website. He went on to expose the election fraud that actually led to banning the publication.
During its tenure, Entekhab was one of the most talked about Persian newspapers in Iran. Through its diverse range of sections, the newspaper did great job in satiating the public sentiment while voicing their opinion.
As of today, the online version produces content across a wide variety of topics such as politics, arts & culture, sports, economics, international affairs, state affairs etc. The publication is headquartered in Qum Iran.
VOA News (Voice of America) is a multi-media news agency in USA and one of the largest broadcasters in the world. It is the US government’s official broadcasting service in the non-military segment. VOA produces exclusive content in more than 47 global languages. Not only does it make VOA the most important broadcasting service in the US but also an important source of consuming news content from the world’s most dominating country. Voice of America was incepted to cater to global audience and influence their opinion about the USA and its people. It is one of its kind state funded media broadcasting service that is targeted at an external audience.
The content in the form of satellite, digital and radio is strategically distributed to different stations all over the world.
Established in 1942, VOA is one of the oldest state sponsored multi-media agencies in the world. After 34 years of operations, the VOA charter came into existence that uplifted the agency’s repute as an official entity.
With a vision to alter the reputation of America among the middle-eastern audiences, Persian was chosen as one of the 47 foreign languages. Given the restrained relationships with Iran, VOA has been trying to justify the US government’s stand and educate the viewer’s about the other side’s story. The Persian version of the publication keeps an eagled eye on the US-Iran relations while frequently analyzing the impact of tensed exchanges. Since the US government has been accusing their counterparts in Iran for misleading the people and the world, VOA is being used as a tool to fill the gaps.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C, VOA is directly monitored by the U.S. Agency for Global Media which is an independent entity backed by the US government. With their mission to reach the non –American audiences, the VOA has gone aggressive with its broadcasting activities. In 2016, the agency broadcasted an approximate 1800 hours of TV and Radio programming to 23 million people all over the world. For Iranians, the agency publishes a website service, Video logs and editorial specials.
Bartarinha is a daily news and lifestyle magazine from Iran and one of the most popular website services in the category. Bartarinha was founded as a lifestyle and healthcare blog that later mushroomed into a full grown news service. With no officially disclosed financial backing, the publication is entirely dependent on the ad revenue model. Besides, news services, Bartrainha provides content development and marketing services to global businesses.
The website has produces content for a variety of topics such as Sports, Lifestyle, Cooking, Health, Arts & Culture, Technology and Entertainment. However, given the growing readership of the online mag, it has added a Daily News section to report important updates from the day. Evidently, Bartarinha is fairly popular among young users and that’s why the publication has an impressive social media presence.
Hamshahri is one of the most popular Iranian daily newspapers that is published by the municipality of Tehran. Managed by the publication group called Hamshahri Corp. the newspaper reports daily news from the national capital and selective features from the world. Since Tehran is the epicenter of all the political and administrative happenings, Hamshahri was a major source of local news for the urban population. It was founded in 1992 under the leadership of Gholamhossein Karbaschi.
It was the first colored daily newspaper in Iran and featured of 60 pages of classified advertisement. In a poll conducted by the Iran’s Ministry of Culture & Islamic Guidance, Hamshahri emerged as the most read publication in the national capital with a market share of more than 44%. By this time, the newspaper had confirmed selling more than 4,00,000 copies making it at par with other western daily publications in the west such as Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune.
Despite sponsored by the Tehran municipality, the newspaper’s journey has its share of controversies including a temporary ban in 2009. The newspaper was punished for publishing the picture of a temple that was banned in Iran.
However, the major controversy had struck in 2006 when the then graphics editor called for an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. This was publicized as an attempt to criticize the lack of press freedom in the west. The editor quoted that it was impossible to joke upon Judaism or Israel’s history. The event that concluded successfully with a Moroccan winner was criticized by United Nations, Anti-Defamation League and the Israel’ Foreign Ministry. Hamshahri is published in Persian in print as well as digital formats.
Vista is a news aggregator service in Iran that provides news features from all Persian publications in the world. It was founded in 2010 and ever since then the publication has been collecting links from validated news sources while expanding the categories to more subjects. The news website service pulls links from those sources that are approved by the Ministry of Guidance of Iran.
The website aims to align the world of Persian journalism on the same platform so that a valuable engagements could be formed and the readers get an overarching experience of varied opinions. The website also publishes epapers from major newspaper services in the language.
Readers can browse through a lineup of categories such as Latest News, Sports, Politics, Economy, Arts & Culture etc. to filter content.
Alef is a reputed news production and analysis service in Iran. It was founded in 2006 by a group of journalists with a mission to diagnose trending news pieces and report the authenticity. The idea was to put up against media prejudice that was misleading the Persian audiences.
Besides news services, Alef provides a democratic environment for publishing public opinion in form of comments and discussions. Given the staunch focus towards analyzing the media coverage around Iran and Iranians at the global level, Alef has attained a respectable stature among those who bother to evaluate the source of any news. Not to miss, the agency has associated with several news and media entities around the world to exchange valuable news information.
However, the news service that has been critical about the government and the policies assures of working within the laws of Islam. Alef covers a wide range of topics including politics, sports, economic trends, arts, cinema, international news, technology, health and international news.
Khabar-e-Varzeshi is one of the oldest and the most popular sports journal in Iran. Published in the Persian language, the newspaper has been instrumental in catering to the sports friendly local population. Prior to this, the readers had no choice but consume sports news from the internal sections of the main newspapers. In fact Khabar-e-Varzeshi was initially a sports section of a popular Persian newspaper known as the Khabar.
In 1997, the daily newspaper Khabar published a 4 sports page section and was exclusively managed by Nasser Ahmadpour. Recognizing the growing popularity of the sports reporting, the publication decided to experiment with an exclusive sports journal under the leadership of Ahmadpouri. Hence, Khabar-e-Varzeshi came into existence in December 1997.
Despite the decline of print media in Iran, Khabar-e-Varzeshi registered record sales of 3, 20,000 copies every day. It was also identified as the 3rd most popular Persian newspaper in Iran. In the same year, the newspaper. The newspaper is also ranked 4th in the list of professional work standards and compliance with journalism rules released by the Ministry of Guidance.
Khabar-e-Varzeshi is owned by the Khabar-e-Janoob Media Group. The company is renowned for a long list of successful publications in the Persian language. Besides the sports journal they manage the Khabar Online News Agency, the Tourism Newspaper, the Varzesh magazine, Ketab-e-Ketab Hafteh, the Quarterly-e-Nasta editorial and the Tourism Online.
Even after 20 years of operations, Khabar-e-Varzesh is the most popular Persian sports newspaper. Alongside the print journal, there’s a fully operational online news service that covers news from all major sports. Since Iran is a Football playing nation, the publication has exclusive sections for all the sporting events followed by Iranians. The website also features a section for women’s sports.
Jam-e-Jam is a daily Persian newspaper that focusses on news of cultural and social impact. It was founded in March 2000 and quickly emerged as one of the most popular daily Persian newspapers in the country. The daily newspaper and online service is directly monitored by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) that runs a lineup of publications in parallel. Their daily newspaper called Panorama is the most popular English language newspaper in Iran.
Jam-e-Jam follows a conservative approach at journalism while giving special emphasis on Islamic teachings and the Iranian culture. In fact, the news publication is hailed for its nationalist sentiment while reporting international affairs. In 2015, the newspaper reported over 90,000 daily copies sold; making it the highest selling Iranian newspaper of those years.
In March 2014, the Iran’s Ministry of Culture & Islamic Guidance conducted a survey with the citizens of Tehran. The subject was to understand their news preferences in TV and print formats. Jam-e-Jam was found holding 7.5% of the market share.
The Jam-e-Jam news service does extensive coverage of subjects. The headline section features Economy, Politics, International, Society, Culture, Health and others.
Dana is one of the fastest growing Iranian news website service that covers a wide range of topics. Launched in 2018-19, the online journal has begun to rank higher among the leaders in a very short tenure.
Dana is owned by the Dana Information Network, a media group based in Tehran. It is one of those few Persian websites that cover all major topics of reader’s interest; making it a news service for all.
As evident from the long lineup of titles, the Persian news website covers Political, Social, Economics, Arts & Culture, Religion & Thought, International News, Sports, Market, Multimedia and others. Add to it, each of these topics are further classified into sub topics. The website also does news reporting at the provincial level.
Started in 1943, Kayhan is one of the oldest and the most conservative Persian newspapers. Very few newspaper publications in Iran had survived the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and Kayhan deserves a mention in the category. By this time, the newspaper already had 1 million subscribers. It was also published in London along slide an English version. However, the Islamic Revolution did affect the leadership and the business for some time.
The newspaper was founded in February 1943 by Mostafa Mesbahzadeh and Abdul-Rahman Faramarzi with a vision to boost the Persian journalism industry. Although the 1979 revolution resulted in a massive upheaval wherein multiple publications were discontinued, Kayhan somehow survived. The only change that it underwent was in the leadership. In May 80, the then foreign minister of Iran Ebrahim Yazdi was given the charge to head the daily newspaper. However, the London edition continued its operations under the leadership of Mostafa Mesbahzadeh. The newspaper was renamed as Kayhan London.
Kayhan is often known as the most conservative Iranian newspaper that blindly supports the government’s pro-Islamic philosophy. Therefore, the international media has been criticizing the newspaper while labelling it as an extremist and a fundamentalist publication. Newspapers such as the New York Times, the Financial Times and others have openly blamed Kayhan for misinterpreting the western sentiment towards Iranians. However, the editors have defended the newspapers and stated that it follows the principles of Islam and Iran and has a pro-constitution approach.
As of today, Kayhan is an extremely popular daily Persian newspaper. The publication also runs an online news service wherein a long list of topics are reported from all over the world. The newspaper is backed by a team of correspondents in every corner of the country. In fact, the publication staffs more than 1500 employees; making it one of the biggest in the industry. In 2008, the New York University of Law reported that the Kayhan newspaper has more than 3,50,000 active subscribers.
Akaup.com is a lifestyle magazine and online news service in Iran. It covers an extensive range of topics to address the needs of all types of readers. Therefore, from cooking and homecare to politics and social welfare, the website aims to expand its reach to a global audience.
Akaup.com also aggregates news from other media agencies and publishes content based on different search filters. As of today, it features content from more than 50 Iranian news and multimedia agencies. It is one of the top 30 most visited Iranian websites.
ICANA is a news agency that is backed by the government of Iran. Founded in 2009, it is one of the newest additions to the government’s initiatives for reaching more people at the global level.
Iran’s parliament is officially known as the Islamic Conservative Assembly and is the uppermost legislative body in the country. Therefore, the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA) was formed in order to contain delusional reporting about the rounds of debates and law processing in the Iranian parliament. As of today, ICANA is regarded as the official press release arm of the body.
ICANA employs selective journalists and editors whose sole responsibility is to publish about the latest news from the assembly. ICANA is also one of the first online news services in the Persian language.
Operating through their comprehensive news journal, ICANA also covers latest political, economic, social, religion and international affairs. With a growing digital presence across web and the mobile, ICANA aims to accomplish worldwide broadcasting while produce a positive sentiment about the government.
Javan is an online news service in Iran published in the Persian language. It is one of the most detailed websites that covers a wide range of topics such as Economy, Politics, International Affairs, Religion, Arts & Culture, Sports, Multimedia, Society, Sacrifice and Resistance and others. Clearly, the publication balances its themes and tries to cover everything from critical and casual topics.
The website also features a series of epapers that can be easily viewed on the mobile. These epapers in PDF formats are meant for cross device consumption. Javan is based in Tehran.
QUDS Online is an Iranian news features and analysis service popular in the Islamic world. Founded in 2018, the website follows a conservative Islamic outlook at journalism and doesn’t shy away from accepting the same. The web service declares its stance towards the Iranian philosophy and that it’s the most appropriate way to fight unethical journalism.
Like most Iranian news services, QUDS Online also accuses the western media of sabotaging Iran’s image. The website features all essential topics of mass importance such as politics, economics, international affairs, culture & religion, sports, video news and others.
Isfahan Emrooz is an online news and epaper service in the Persian language. This is one of the very few highly rated Persian news publication services that are operational outside Tehran. It was named after the Iranian city of Isfahan that holds great cultural and religious importance for the country. Started as a local news service, the website has expanded reach to other major cities and provides a comprehensive take on news reporting at national and international level.
Isfahan Emrooz covers all major topics of headlines and uploads daily epapers for downloads.
Ettela’at is the oldest Persian newspaper in the world and one of the highest regarded publications in the present day Iran. It is a daily newspaper and follows a conservative outlook at reporting social, political, and economic and above all, religious news. The paper was founded in 1926 and sold more than 15000 copies every day.
Ettela’at is also popular for being a leading cause for the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In January 1978, the paper openly declared Ayatollah Khomeini as a British agent. Ayatollah, who was the supreme Islamic cleric lashed back and led a massive protest against the publication. Subsequently, the police approached the premises and killed more than 20 people. When the Iranian media outraged against the incident, the tension rose to uncontrollable violence leading to a gorilla war like situation.
In 1980, a photo published in the paper showed Iranian forces executing Kurdish militants. This photo won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize.
Founded by Abbas Masoudi, the Persian daily newspaper is now owned and managed by the Iran Chap Organization.
Etemad is a popular semi-independent newspaper in Iran and often acknowledged for its reformist outlook. Despite no official backing from the government, the newspaper is semi-independent because it is owned by politician and ex-member of the parliament of Iran, Elias Hazrati. Elias has been representing Tehran in the parliament and thus owns a reputed status among the parliamentary fraternity.
Etemad was founded in 2002 by Hazrati with support of prominent journalists who had worked in other reformist newspapers. These reformists’ newspapers and magazines were previously banned by the government. Elias wanted a firm and fair journalistic voice that would work for in the interest of the people at first.
After publishing 2000 editorials, Etemad was banned in 2010 after it was accused of false reporting events during the presidential elections of 2009. By this time, the daily Persian newspaper had become the 8th highest selling publication in the country with more than 1,00,000 subscribers. After 9 months of ban, the operations of the publication were enabled.
The newspaper website uploads daily epaper versions which can be downloaded in a readable format.
Vatan-e-Emrooz is a daily Persian language newspaper started in 2009. As a fully colored daily newspaper, Vatan-e-Emrooz competes among other mainstream newspapers. It is owned by Mehrdad Bazrpash who launched the newspaper just before the presidential elections in the country. Given the political links, the newspaper is rumored to have direct support from the conservative parties. It is also alleged the newspaper used government agencies to fund its operations.
The publication uploads the epapers on the official website every day.
Resalat is a popular Iranian daily newspaper published in the Persian language. It was founded in 1985 and is known for its conservative outlook. Owned by the Resalat foundation, the newspaper publishes major news and editorials about politics, economics, culture, social and sports. Being close to the Islamic Coalition Party, the newspaper has a traditional principlism political alignment.
The newspaper was hugely popular in the 2000s when its circulation count crossed the 50,000 copies mark. However, due to the digitization trends, the newspaper faced losses.
Khabarads is a news aggregator and epaper production agency in Iran. Owned by the Khabar International Media Group, the publication has a presence of more than 40 years in the Persian newspaper business. It publishes a daily Persian newspaper called the Khabar-e-Jonoub which is hugely popular in the Southern Iran. The newspaper is one of the very few daily editorials that are operational till date.
The website derives its major revenue from the local classified advertisements alongside the daily epapers uploaded. The media group also runs an exclusive website by the same name as of the newspaper.
Iran-e-Varzeshi is an online sports journal that does detailed reporting of Football in Iran. In one of its kind approach, Iran-e-varzeshi produces sports content in the Persian language. Given the explosive popularity of Football, the magazine details about the local sporting events. This includes the Iranian Super League, world leagues and other Football tournaments.
For being one of the few sporting magazines in the business, Iran-e-Varzeshi has a raging popularity among the younger users.
Started in October 2000, Salam Toronto is the first Persian language news website to have ventured into North America. The publication aims to satiate the news consumption needs of the Persian community in Canada; no matter what country they ethically belong to.
Salam Toronto was founded by Mohsen Taghavi who is backed by decades of experience in international journalism. For his efforts, he was awarded with the Canadian Journalists Ethic and Writers Club Award in June 2002.
It is a weekly publication that provides important updates from Iran, the middle-east region and Canada. The publication releases new content once a week every Thursday.
Salam Toronto is the online weekly publication that features in the Persian and the English languages.
Fars News is an Iranian pro-government multimedia news services that does comprehensive reporting of state security, economics and international affairs. It was founded in 2003 and claims to be the country’s largest independent news service. Besides English, the news website is published in Persian, Arabic and Turkish languages.
Fars News is owned and managed by the Fars News Agency that is accused of biased reporting by many western media groups. It is known to have an unofficial backing from the government to cover up facts and defame western nations. However, the news agency has openly denied any such intentions and commits to its mission of free content for all. The agency also owns a Creative Commons License for its content.
Fars News and controversies go hand-in-glove. In 2012, the news website copied the story from a satirical American website ‘The Onion’ about most Americans preferring Iranian president over Barack Obama. It later apologized for the misinformation. In the same year, the website released an interview with Egyptian leader Morsi claiming he wanted to review the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. The Egyptian leader rubbished the authenticity of the news later.
However, the most infamous controversy attached to the publication erupted in 2013. Fars News confirmed that a 27 year old Iranian scientist had successfully built and tested a Time Machine that could help mankind travel in future. After few days, the report was removed and an Iranian government official assured no such device was built.
Fars News Agency has always been vocal about its pro-Islamic stance. In 2016, it was one of the 40 media groups in Iran that pledged a bounty against author Salman Rushdie over the Satanic Verses Controversy.
B. Iranian Newspapers & News Websites in English
Despite the unquestionable influence of Persian in Iranian media, the following publications have excelled with their services in English. Additionally, they may or may not be publishing in the Persian language.
Press TV is an Iranian news broadcasting and documentary network that is affiliated to the Islamic Republic of Iranian Broadcasting (IRIB). Press TV is known for publishing content in English and French and caters the Iranian population in the west. It is also regarded as an effort to portray a positive perception about the Iranian government in the west.
Press TV was founded in July 2007 in English while the French version was released later in the same year. Despite justifying its stance, Press TV has been under scrutiny for curating conspiracy theories and misleading the global readers. The western media, particularly those from America have publicly accused the Supreme Leader of Iran for using Press TV as a tool of spreading his propaganda.
Although Iran’s first TV news channel was started in 1976, Press TV was launched with an aim to match the standards of other international broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN International and Al Jazeera English. In fact, the Iranian government has supported Press TV quoting it as an opportunity to combat the misinformation spread about Iran by the American journals.
Press TV works in sync with Al Alam News Network, an Arab language news broadcasting service backed by the Iranian government. As a state funded TV news channel, Press TV is the only legal broadcasting service within Iran. All other services have to seek an extended licensing from the IRIB and the Supreme Leader.
The publication has had its share of controversies. In 2019, Google banned Press TV from accessing its Gmail and YouTube accounts.
Alongside the broadcasting service, Press TV also reports news on its official website. The publication produces news articles on different topics related to Iran such as Politics, Social, Religion, Arts & Culture, Energy sector etc. It also has exclusive sections for UK, US and most importantly, the Middle-Eastern countries.
Tehran Times is one of the oldest English language newspapers from Iran. It was founded in 1979 just around the infamous Iranian revolution. The daily newspaper started operations in the capital city initially and expanded to other areas of countries very quickly. Tehran Times is also one of the few newspapers from the 70s that continue their operations today.
The daily newspaper that was founded by the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization and thus follows a conservative outlook. In fact, the Supreme Leader had quoted that the newspaper shouldn’t be perceived as just any publication but a voice of the Islamic (Iranian) revolution and millions of oppressed people in the world.
In order to expand its reach, the Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization launched a news agency called the Mehr News Agency and merged Tehran Times with it. The agency runs multiple publications in the print and digital formats. After starting MNA in 2002, Tehran Times scaled new heights with
In 2011, the newspaper introduced the newspaper with all the pages in colored format. As of today, the MNA is among the top 3 media agencies in Iran while Tehran Times a reputed English daily.
Just like Tehran Times, all other publications managed by MNA follow a conservative approach at reporting. Not to miss, Tehran Times is also one of the few English daily newspapers in Iran. Alongside the print business, the paper has an exclusive website that reports political, international affairs, social news. Daily epapers can also be downloaded in readable formats.
Tasnim News Agency
Tasnim News Agency is a private media group and among the top 10 most popular Iranian publications. Founded in 2012, the publication is owned by the famous board of Islamic Ideology Dissemination Organization (IIDO). Despite the backing of a conservative organization, the news agency has still maintained an exclusive stance with its widespread content from social reforms, politics, arts & culture and economy. The news agency also owns the licensing from the American nonprofit entity the Creative Commons.
Headquartered in Tehran, the agency has an extensive network of correspondents spread all over the country. It was founded under the leadership of Majid Gholizadeh who has been a popular voice in dismaying the misconceptions about Islam and Iran.
Although the media group has repeatedly stated non alignment towards any political or administrative body, it still earns the unofficial backing of many reputed groups such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Cops (IRGC). The strong link became public in 2013 when the then chief Mohammad Ali Jafari praised the media house for fair reporting.
However the publication couldn’t sideline the criticism from the Anti-Defamation League during the infamous corona pandemic of 2020. The publication was accused of falsely defaming Israel and Jews to have plotted the biological conspiracy against the Islamic nations.
As a fast growing media group, the Tasnim News Agency is widely published in English and Persian. Apart from Islamic philosophy, culture, politics, social and international news, the news website avidly covers sports (especially Football) and economic affairs.
Pars Times is a non-profit online editorial that features important news, updates and historical information about Iran and the Middle-East. Managed by a small team of volunteers, the blog turned news website aims at providing comprehensive information about the country’s culture and the influence of Islam. Over the years, Pars Times has emerged as a surprise addition to the list of top 40 news websites in Iran.
Published entirely in English, the website is targeted to help researchers, students and scholars working on different subjects. Although the website isn’t monetized, it is still open for donations. The website also provides local classified services wherein announcements about events, functions, concerts etc. are made. The website also does indexing of other major Iranian websites based on different topics.
Financial Tribune is the largest Iranian English daily newspaper for economic news and analysis. Financial Tribune was founded in 2014 with a vision to boost English journalism in Iran. The Financial Tribune is owned by popular media group Donya-e-Eqtesad (DEN) which publishes a series of other Persian language publications and editorials.
As a business newspaper, Financial Tribune does reporting of Iran’s economy alongside trending markets such as Technology, Energy and Oil. In fact, the paper has been instrumental in securing the interests of the private sector enterprise through accurate analysis of the markets. In 2016, it ranked 6th in the list of top business newspapers, conducted by the Ministry of Culture. With a circulation count of more than 60,000, the paper is managed by a staff of 50 employees.
Iran Front Page
Iran Front Page is an online news & lifestyle magazine in Iran. It is one of the few online magazines in English that has ranked among the best in the country. Iran Front Page was founded in 2014 with an ambition to bring English journals to the Iranians. However, the parent company, Iran Front Page Media Group is an experienced media entity in Iran.
The media group published a monthly magazine in Farsi language known as the Front Page. Launched in 1991, the Farsi magazine published content for all major topics from the world.
Iran Front Page is entirely owned by a private firm and has no professional backing from any government agency.
C. Other Important Newspapers and News Websites
Besides the above mentioned list of major publications in the country, the following names deserve a mention.
Aftab-e-Yazd is a daily Persian language newspaper in Iran. Founded in 2000, the newspaper claims to follow a reformist outlook at reporting facts and incidents. It is affiliated to the Association of Combatant Clerics and mostly publishes political, social and economic news. It was temporarily banned in 2009 for publishing a letter of the then presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi.
Payvand is one of the first English news websites dedicated to raising the issues about Iran and Iranians. Started in 1995, Payvand was a massive hit in San Francisco. It is often known as an Iran-American joint venture meant for fighting biased reporting by mainstream media. It is an independent publication with no affiliation from the government.
Launched in 1995, The Iranian is the longest running English news website in the category. It was founded by Said Amin with a motive to publish an exclusive magazine featuring Iranian news, culture, markets and other topics. The website invites a lot of freelance journalists to contribute their articles from all over the world.
Ebtekar is a daily Persian language newspaper that follows a reformist approach at reporting. It was founded by Mohammad Ali Vakili in 2006 and covers news from politics, economics, society and religion. Like most reformist newspapers, Ebtekar too faced a temporary banned which was lifted after a warning.
The Iran Project
The Iran Project is a non-professional initiative to promote Iranian culture and news through an online magazine. Started as a blog, the website has expanded into a full scale news services website in English. It covers topics such as Social, Economy, Regional Affairs, Iran, Politics and others.
The global media giant ventured into the Persian reporting 2009. The website that does comprehensive reporting of Iran and Iranians streams a live video news service alongside articles, editorials and text news features. Currently, the media conglomerate aims at reaching out to more than 120 million Persian speaking people all over the world.
There are two types of countries in the world; one those who possess a liberal outlook towards life and administration and others those who have engulfed themselves with fascist principles. Positioning Iran in either of these categories is a tough task. While the country takes pride in its restrictive Islamic principles, it is infact a rare nation that has embraced arts, literature, poetry and music. What most of us don’t know about Iran is the fact that it is often regarded as the best cinema producing nation in the world.
Given such a complex reputation, Iranian media has a greater role to adorn over here. Although many of these reformist publications have faced partial shutdown, they have still survived the wrath, gained public support and put up a tough opposition to the religious prejudice.
Going forward, Iran newspapers and websites must push the limits and adorn a more liberal outlook at reporting facts. Unlike most of the current publications, Iranian media houses must look beyond the standard narrative of locking horn with the west. Add to it, they can experiment with more languages, inspirational stories from other cultures and above all, total boycott of unverified and controversial news pieces.
Iran is a promising country and owns the potential to enlist among the top nations in the world. Given the explosively growing energy sector, it is pacing towards a more uplifted society.
As a team impassioned by trends in the Islamic media industry, we are committed to keep a sharp observation and update our listings. We are a growing team and always looking forward to seek inputs from those who know the industry better than us.
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