The writing of prose fiction was not the only cultural innovation in Iran that can be attributed to a combination of Western influence, social consciousness, an increasing rate of literacy among the general population, and the development of the means for mass production and distribution of printed material. Just as striking, and perhaps even more important, has been the growing national appetite for other forms of reading material, information, and entertainment, notably in the form of newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and cinema. Precisely because these are such highly popular and potentially subversive means of communication, they have all had to struggle with problems of censorship and state control, yet they have nonetheless managed to fl ourish and produce at times spectacular results. The first newspapers to appear in Iran were offi cial government gazettes intended primarily to keep courtiers and bureaucrats informed about events in Iran and abroad. The earliest was a lithographed publication issued weekly and entitled Ruz-nâmeh-e vaqâye‘-e ettefâqiyeh (“Diary of Current Events”) that appeared in February 1851. After the offi ce of the government press was taken over by Abo‘l-Qâsem Khan Sani‘-ol-Molk (latter known as E‘temâd-os- Saltaneh) in 1860, it was renamed Ruz-nâmeh-ye dowlat-e ‘aliyeh-e Irân and began to include engravings, some of which were remarkably well done, to illustrate the text. It continued to be published, with some interruptions and changes in title, down to at least 1911. These newspapers are of considerable historical interest, but they did not have the cultural impact of the privately printed and circulated newspapers that soon followed. Even though these papers had limited circulation numbers—usually only a few thousand and even the most popular about ten thousand—they were important because they were read by members of the elite. In some cases, they could also reach even larger audiences among the still mostly illiterate general population by being read out in teahouses and at public gatherings. The earliest and most infl uential Persian language papers, all printed outside of Iran and thus able to avoid censorship, were Akhtar (“The Star”), published at Istanbul; Habl-ol- Matin (“The Firm Rope”), published at Calcutta; and Qânun (“The Law”), published (and mostly written) by Malkom Khân in London. All played an important rule in introducing concepts of political reform to Iran. With the coming of the Constitutional Revolution, the number of such papers—and the political interests they represented—proliferated dramatically. Well over three hundred newspapers are known from that period, though most were short-lived. Probably the most popular and highly regarded was Sure Esrâfi l (“Esrafel’s Trumpet”). It was unabashedly secularist, anti-clerical, and constitutionalist in outlook and, with articles by ‘Ali-Akbar Dehkhodâ (see above), had some of the very best satirical writing in Persian. Indeed, the paper was so effective that it became a main target of the reactionaries after the anti-Constitutionalist coup of 1908 that initiated the period of the “Lesser Despotism”; Mohammad-‘Ali Shah ordered the owner and editor of the paper, Mirzâ Jahângir Khân Shirâzi, to be strangled to death. The general restriction of freedom of expression during the Pahlavi period also affected the press. Essentially, any paper that fl ourished during that time was at least suspected of collusion with either the government or a foreign power. Still, some papers did aspire to the norms and standards of professional journalism as best they could. Foremost among them was Ettelâ‘ât (“The News”) founded in 1926 as the organ of the Iranian News Agency. It tried to incorporate features of a popular, mass-circulation daily newspaper and was not always uncritical of the government; however, the editor, ‘Abbas Mas‘udi, was close to Rezâ Shah, and it eventually acquired the aura of a semioffi cial paper. It was also for a while the most widely-read paper in Iran. Its chief competitor was Kayhân, which appeared in May 1941. By the 1970s, Kayhân had a circulation almost twice as large as that of Ettelâ‘ât and was probably even more widely regarded as the offi cial voice of the government. It was a vicious article in that paper attacking the reputation of Âyatollâh Khomeini that sparked the Islamic Revolution. After the Revolution, both Ettelâ‘ât and Kayhân along with their subsidiary publications, were taken over by the Foundation for the Oppressed (Bonyâd-e Mostaz‘afân). It could hardly be said that the Revolution brought a genuine freedom of the press to Iran. Through control of licensing procedures and the supply of critical materials such as newsprint, the government still had considerable infl uence over the press. Nonetheless, the environment for newspapers was in many ways reminiscent of that of the Constitutional Era. The stranglehold of the big papers was broken, and there were numerous political factions that sought to push their ideas and agendas through affi liated newspapers, which began to appear in profusion. Papers that went too far in their views might be banned, only to reappear immediately under a different title. Especially after the electoral victory of the Khatami as president, the political disputes between conservatives and reformers were refl ected—and sometimes fought out—in the press. Numerous newspapers and magazines emerged, refl ecting the diversity of ideas, politics, and factional affi liations: Abrâr, Âftâb-e Yazd, ‘Asr-e âzâdegân, Entekhâb, Ebtekâr, E‘temâd, Hambastegi, Ham-Mihan, Hamshahri, Hayât-e Now, Irân, Jâma‘, Jâm-e Jam, Jomhuri-e eslâmi, Jomhuriyat, Khorâsân, Khordâd, Mehr, Mellat, Neshât, Qods, Resâlat, Tus, Vaqâye‘-e Ettefâqiyeh and Yâs-e Now. As the tug of war between the conservatives and reformists continued, over 40 newspapers, including several of the ones mentioned here, were banned, especially after a crackdown in April 2000. Investigative reports about some officials generated harsh reactions. Probably the most daring example of independent investigative journalism was the work of Akbar Ganji, a reporter for several reformist newspapers, who exposed government involvement in the murder of several dissident intellectuals in 1998. He was arrested in 2000 and sentenced to 10 years in jail—a sentence reduced to 5 later. Among the better known contemporary newspapers, Jomhuri-e eslâmi, Resâlat, and Keyhân are regarded as proconservative, while Sharq and E‘temâd have been proreformist. A few, such as Ettelâ‘ât and Irân, try to follow a moderate or centrist line. Hamshahri, one of the most widely read newspapers in Iran, used to be a reformist paper, but with the appointment of Mahmud Ahmadinejâd in 2003 as the mayor of Tehran, and his election in 2005 as the president, it has shifted to a proconservative position.