Syria Media Still Voice of Regime, Remains Complicit in Oppression

Article Summary
Not only has the Syrian media failed to keep the people informed, but it has actively worked against them, writes Abdelrahman Matar. The revolution was a golden opportunity for the media to redeem its journalistic credentials by exposing the regime’s harsh crackdown, but it continued to be the mouthpiece for the ruling Ba’ath party.

It has been more than a year since the Syrian uprising erupted against the half-century-old authoritarian regime. Originally, the Ba’athist regime launched a revolution that was supposed to benefit the populace. Today, however, the regime has led itself to its own demise by choosing a path of organized genocide targeting certain people and places across Syria.

The bloody crisis has raged in Syria for more than a year. What started as peaceful protests turned into an uprising with the emergence of allegedly armed "terrorist groups.” However, the facts on the ground show that it is the brutality of the Syrian regime that has taken its toll on the people and the land. The armed forces have shown no qualms about cracking down on the people.

Up until now, the media has played an influential and significant role in promoting the uprising. Now, the media is contributing to the revolution’s deviation from a peaceful course. This has worked to the advantage of those seeking to spread extremist ideas across the cities, defending their dogmas with the force of arms and extreme violence.

The Syrian media, in all its components, constitutes an integral part of the crisis. First, it was a means for the regime to oppress Syrian citizens. Then it became a powerful tool with which the regime could undermine the uprising. The media did not work for the Syrian nation — it was merely a weapon in the hands of the authorities.

The Syrian media bears a part of the historical and legal responsibility for the bloody events that have spread through Syria over the past year. From the beginning, the media turned a blind eye to the crisis brewing in the country, denying its existence. This denial tipped the balance in favor of a regime-imposed security solution.

As always, the Syrian media lacked credibility and failed to build bridges of trust with the Syrian people. It was weak and fragile at all levels and never claimed a free voice of its own. It only spoke the language of the Ba’athist regime, which has made made free use of all possible outlets to serve its own interests. All press freedoms have been muzzled in a society that lost its public life decades ago. The media once called “revolutionary, progressive and socialist,” is now but inert sources of information where only the most passive of journalists work. It has been left hugely swollen, spoiled by nepotism, privilege and financial and administrative corruption. It is no longer simply a part of the security apparatus — it is an accomplice.

One year after the introduction of the “new and modern” media law, as described by the Syrian information minister, the national media council was established. However, the council has failed to enhance the media’s performance with regard to serving the people and the country. It also failed to convey true images of the situation in Syria and contribute to solving the crisis. On the contrary, the official and private media continues to polish the image of the authorities, straying away from objectivity while ignoring the people’s demands and their revolution. The media has painted the uprising as "terrorist acts carried out by armed groups, funded by foreign parties in an attempt to hatch an international plot against Syria.”

One year in, the Syrian media has proven a dramatic failure to manage the crisis. The uprising could have been a golden opportunity for the Syrian media to live up to its national responsibility and free itself from the grip of a regime that has impeded its performance for years. It must therefore be held responsible for participating in the ongoing crackdown. 

Found in: syrian media, syrian crisis, syrian, revolutionary media, nepotism, media in the arab world, media, corruption, ba’ath regime

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