A man once doubted that his wife was cheating on him, so he told her that he’s leaving for a month on a task. He rented an apartment that has a view on their bedroom and waited there for something to happen.
After an hour of waiting by the window, he sees a man entering the bedroom with his wife, they start kissing and cuddling, then they undress each other, and then… they close the curtains.
The husband gets mad, and hits his head against the wall and says, “Damn the obscurity again!”
Admitting the truth is optional for some people.
But for me, it is the only available option.
The Syrian conflict has been the focus of global media like no other issue has ever been. One-sided coverage of events, fabrication, instigation, presenting half-truths, those are only some of the points that can be made against global media bodies, which are unfortunately the mainstream today. CNN, BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya, and hundreds of others, I am not in a place of anatomizing the performance of that media neither of summarizing it because it is well known and understood by now.
As a solution to the previously mentioned problem, we automatically say that there must be someone working to give a better image. Especially that the entire world is watching the events. There have been a couple of channels that were more realistic and objective in their coverage of the events like Al-Mayadeen (Arabic), Russia Today (English, Arabic, and many other languages), and TeleSur(English and Spanish), Al-Akhbar newspaper (Arabic, and English until March 2015) only to name few. I will leave it to the reader to go back to their work and judge their work.
But, when everyone gets involved in the Syrian conflict, one comes to ask a very simple question: Where is the Syrian media among all those big names?
Historically, Syrian media had one rule to abide by: Opacity. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things go, just keep smiling and nod your head. And here I am not talking about telling the truth or lying, I am talking about actually TALKING.
Ministry of Defense is by no means more significant than Ministry of Information and Media in this war. Therefore, we expect that after 5 years performance has improved and strengthened due to the current circumstances. But sad enough, the answer is a painful “NO”.
Hosting political analysts was the worst part of it, people who have absolutely nothing to do with neither politics nor analysis, theorizing in a way that ridicules minds of the audience; one claims to have all secrets of NSA and CIA on his memory stick, the other promised that conflict would be over 4 years ago, and one uses absurd logic of geometry believing that sophistication is the only proof of smartness. I will not drift by picking on them one by one, because a thousand and one nights will not do.
The main problem that I mean to address is Syrian media’s responsibility to address international audience.
“Revolutionary” media is undeniably making more audience as it is receiving massive support in terms of money and propaganda factories. The mass production of films, documentaries, news broadcast, and tens of media forms of media have shaped the awareness of millions around the world, and will undeniably do more in the future as it will be a version of history. It is no secret where this media is receiving its funding from and who is writing its propaganda; only last June an article on such factories was published in The Guardian, and in that article that support was justified with the phrase “war against ISIS”.
On the other hand, the efforts done by some freelance Syrian and foreign journalists and activists cannot go unmentioned of course. Those individuals did great work to cover the events and offer a critical reasonable view of the events to audience who does not speak Arabic. In a previous article I have presented some Crazy Visitors to Wonderland who went to Syria to see for themselves what is really going on. What makes the truth more painful is that many of the people to whom I have talked to and wanted a Syrian English-speaking official source to rely on when they seek information, I was never able to provide an answer. SANA still sticks to a wooden discourse that bores me, the Syrian, so how would I expect it to gain the attention and trust of the foreigner? One of the people I have spoken with said that he fully identifies with the fact that Syria is under great attack in the media, and when he tried to resort to Syrian media, he could not but describe it as “primitive”.
A message to the Minister of Information and Media, restrictive, primitive media will not serve Syria, I give you an advice for free sir, be the change that we the people are looking for and give us an alternative to what is being offered, or else do not go on blaming the others for not doing their work the right way. One simple step is broadcasting in English, address international audience who wants to hear YOUR version of the story in a professional and logical manner not merely a 15 minute news bite that comes ones a day. Equip your institutions with qualified and enthusiastic workers; defend objective criticism, it is your full responsibility to motivate crazy journalists and media workers because in a wonderland like ours, it is better when we admit that we are all mad here.