Why support Syrian media
The role of the journalist is to produce verified and objective information. But the media are also a factor of development, and they are at the forefront of establishing a sustainable democracy.
It is crucial to support independent media in Syria because they perform key functions, both short and long term:
IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE:
- Produce reliable information away from partisan speeches
Independent media are the primary sources of information at the local and international levels. Since its inception, war has been marked by a desire for disinformation and manipulation of actors. Producing reliable and unbiased information is essential to enable citizens to understand the dynamics of war and to break down the circles of violence.
Similarly, most international media are no longer sending journalists to Syria because of the risks involved. Independent Syrian journalists are therefore the quasi-exclusive sources of all the international media.
- Provide practical information to protect the population
The media also provide practical information to enhance the security of civilians or improve their daily lives: bombing alerts, food prices, information and advice on health and hygiene, distribution of rescue services, etc. They contribute to the survival of civilian populations.
IN THE MEDIUM AND LONG TERM:
- Influencing decision-making and empowering political actors
The media are an essential vector of interaction between populations and representative bodies, and in this they influence political action. For example, journalists played a key role in holding transparent elections in the besieged city of Duma. They also helped local councils and the Syrian National Council to improve services to the population.
- Helping to counter illegitimate extremist forces
The independent media convey ideas of tolerance, cultural and religious diversity and openness and thus patiently struggle with the rise of religious extremism in the country. Counteract the action of non-representative extremist groups. On many occasions, the media have succeeded in imposing themselves on the non-democratic practices of certain armed forces, such as the suppression of newspapers or radios,1 or violence against members of civil society.2
- Fostering a peaceful transition
A pluralistic media landscape is one of the pillars to rebuild the Syria of tomorrow, whatever the politico-military outcome of the conflict. Independent media broadcast throughout the territory of Syria, including in areas currently in the hands of the regime. Diverse media allow the voices of civilian populations to be heard and work to develop better governance.
1. For example: 5 members of the Syrian Network for Print (SNP) were banned by an Islamic Court in Aleppo, and then rehabilitated thanks to civil society’s action. In May 2015, Fateh al-Cham (ex-al-Nusra Front) confiscated FM transmitters but they were compelled to give them back. The magazine Souriatna was also authorised to resume their distribution after having been banned by the Fateh al-Cham and Ahrar al-Cham groups.
2. Raed Fares, director of Radio Fresh, was threatened, arrested, kidnapped, and even shot. However he still lives in Kafranbel where he keeps on working as a journalist.