Media Development

Media Development

Dates : June 2011 – March 2013

After two years spent establishing technical infrastructure and building news-gathering foundations within the Syrian media landscape, ASML/Syria shifted its activities in 2013. ASML/Syria designed a comprehensive program to support the development of a media landscape producing objective and quality content for Syrians. The objectives therefore evolved from documenting events and human rights violations and providing this information to international media, towards the development of media by and for Syrians.

After a careful assessment phase, the selected media were receiving support consisting of three main components:

  1. Tailored mentoring:

The mentoring was provided to management and editorial teams and included organizational and managerial support, strategy development, fundraising support etc.

  1. Financial support:

ASML/Syria provided recipients with small monthly grants to contribute to their running costs and assisted recipients in approaching various funders in order to diversify their sources of financial support.

  1. Training:

Developed through a needs-assessment period, professional journalism trainers constructed a specific curriculum tailored to address the most pressing shortages of each media outlet. Trainings were carried out in Gaziantep (Turkey) at dedicated premises.

Magazines supported:

  1. Daouda – from Druze region of Suweida
  2. Sayedet Souria – women’s magazine
  3. Al-Masar al-Hur – from Binnish (Aleppo)
  4. Enab Baladi – from Deraya (Damascus)
  5. Fanous – bilingual Arabic/Kurdish magazine from the Hasakah governorate (Kurdish region)
  6. Tamaddun
  7. Henta – monthly cultural magazine from Salamiya, the region of the Ismaili religious minority
  8. Oxygen – from Zabadani, west of Damascus
  9. Souriatna – Damascus
  10. Zaitun – Idleb
  11. Al-Jisr – newspaper from Deir Ez Zor
  12. Sada Al-Sham – investigative newspaper from Deir Ez Zor
  13. Zaiton wa Zaitonah – children’s magazine from Idleb
  14. Zawraq – children’s magazine from Kafranbel
  15. Tayarat Waraq – child-oriented publication
  16. Qaws Quzah – child-oriented publication from Deraa
  17. Teen Baal – teen publication

Radio supported

  1. Huna Al-Sham,
  2. Capital Radio,
  3. Radio Shebab

All observers agree that the alternative media outlets in Syria have improved dramatically in quality since the start of the program. This is very much the case for the media outlets that have been supported by ASML/Syria. Quality and professionalism are now normalized across the entire media sector.

 

Soazig Dollet in her study entitled “The new Syrian Radio” (2015)  considers that “It should be stressed that the various radio stations have made significant profess since they were first launched in terms of both the content and the quality of their programs. A number of commentators have notes that the existence of real pluralism in the radio broadcasts available – with a genuinely diverse range of programmes on offer  and have praised the creativity of the teams.” And it is the same with the press : « The teams initially composed mostly of militants with no journalistic experience whatsoever, are also becoming more professional. (…) Some of those who in 2012-2013 were described as “citizen-journalists” have become genuine journalists.”

 

The journalist Hala Kodmani stresses “the creativity of the new Syrian newspapers in terms of covering current affairs in Syria from original angles”. (2015)

 

However, observers agree that the ability to pursues operations is a key factor of success. Along with journalism development and improving the quality of the content produced by the media, sustainability has been a key component of ASML/Syria’s support. And it has proven hugely successful.

 

At the closure of the program in December 2015, 70% of the magazines that were once beneficiaries of ASML/Syria’s Media Development Program were still operating, compared to the sector average, 23%.