War, reconstruction, and the revival of journalism (1980–96)
Given Iran’s 50 per cent rate of literacy in 1979, scarce resources of paper, machinery and skilled workforce, and the chronic newspaper distribution problems, it is highly likely that market forces alone would have put an end to the heady post-revolutionary growth of the country’s press. In the event, escalating internal political conflicts and the Iraqi invasion in 1980 resulted in a much more rapid collapse of the sector. The number of new publications that emerged during the 8 year war (685) was smaller than those that had appeared in the two years before the war (720). None of the wartime papers represented any opposition to, or indeed any social or political ideas different from, those held by the state.1 Official political views were expressed initially by the two old, afternoon dailies, Ettela’at and Kayhan, now safely in the hands of the Islamic Republic authorities, and two morning dailies, Sobh-e Azadegan (Morning of the Free), that had inherited Ayandegan’s facilities, and Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Islamic Republic), established in 1979 by the then Hojjatoleslam Seyyed-Ali Khamenei, who was to become Iran’s third president in 1981, and Supreme Leader in 1989. The four papers were later joined by Kar-o-Kargar (Work and Worker), licensed in 1984, and Resalat (Mission), licensed in 1985, the latter the organ of conservative Islamic politics, with close links to Iran’s traditional commercial interests based in the bazaars.