Foundational Support

Dates : June 2011 – March 2013

Independent media and citizen journalists has been at the heart of the movement of dissent against the government from its very beginning. They were struggling against the regime’s best efforts to monopolize the narrative. To prevent any dissenting voices, the Syrian state imposed a media blackout, restricting access inside Syria for professional international journalists. This was simultaneously a historic opportunity for the organic development of an independent media landscape as an alternative to the state-controlled media. However, the ban on foreign journalists was also accompanied with an Internet blackout on centers of dissent, making it very challenging for aspiring journalists to pursue their work.

ASML/Syria therefore followed two core lines of efforts:

  1.    Restore the telecommunication infrastructure:

To enable media actors to operate,coordinate and send their media material to professional international news outlets.

  • Shipping and installing inside Syria 320 Internet hotspots, through Satellite modems – VSATs and Bgans
  • Covering the costs of Internet for these 320 Internet points
  • Providing 300 photo and video cameras
  • Providing 200 VPNs for media activists and citizen journalists
  • Providing 170 Satellite phones.

 

  1.    Syrian Voices Initiative:

Train journalistically independent media activists and reporters.

 

In total the training program provided 600 hours of training on a vast array of topics: journalistic ethics, impartiality, verification mechanisms, report writing, interview conducting etc.

The Syrian Voices Initiative has been widely praised by local media actors and is considered as the first step that was taken towards the development of a professional media landscape.

Most of the media actors trained in this program have continued their career in media as freelancers for international news channels, or becoming stringers for the emerging Syrian alternative radio stations and magazines.