The Syria Initiative

International media highlights conflict and terror in Syria reporting

The Syria Initiative will continue to monitor the positioning of the Syrian conflict in the media to support the ongoing work on the ground, particularly exploring the new entry points for peace building, the response of Syrians and the global community to the political process, and the design of dialogue and negotiation platforms in the future. It will also focus on how to draw lessons learned from the media coverage to enable Syrian peace voices to better reach international audiences and to form new narratives conducive to peace building and advancing an inclusive political process.

What is the Syria Initiative?

The Syria Initiative is coordinated through FELM with regional and Syrian partners. Started in 2013, the initiative has been working on three main sectors:

- Empowering peace activists and their institutions across all parts of Syria

- Supporting inclusive political dialogue among the different stakeholders on different levels towards a peaceful resolution to the conflict

- Empowering Syrian voices to network, advocate and communicate for peace

The Syria Initiative works with a very wide range of international stakeholders, including the UN and EU bodies, to develop frameworks for the de-escalation of violence and stabilizing political solutions. As part of supporting advocacy efforts for peace, the Syria Initiative has conducted a media study tracking both formal digital media outlets and social media coverage of the Syrian conflict from political, economic, and social viewpoints.

Syria in the Global Media study

The media study covers a global spectrum of international media. The major findings were as follows:

- Terrorism and conflict news had the biggest share of media coverage during the period of analysis. ISIS and news on terrorism comprised 30% of the total coverage on Syria. Moreover, there are clear examples of ISIS receiving massive media attention at the expense of other themes, such as humanitarian aid and refugees, and the suffering of civilians, particularly women and children.

- In many cases, media reported according to its home country’s geopolitical position and policy on Syria. As such, the media played a divisive rather than a conciliatory role. Syrian media (both opposition and loyalist) has very little reach outside Syrian audiences. As such, there a “disconnect" between the Syrians and the international media discourses.

- Coverage on the refugee topic increased from 7% to 23% only after the refugee crisis started reaching Europe in August 2015. The physical proximity of the refugee issue seems to increase the European media’s interest in the topic.

While social media mirrored the main media to a large extent, it also provided subtle differences.

- Terrorism had the biggest share of the coverage on Syria also in social media, mainly extending the duration of discussions on events, but generally events have very little retention on social media.

- Tracking the posting on Syria reliably is challenging due to the large amount of BOTS motored through posting done by different ideological groups.

- Conversation on humanitarian aid and refugees was broader in social media than it was in the digital media, but it remained relatively invisible due to the large amount of bot-posts and the overall amount of conversation.

Syria in Global Media  Summary

Syria in Global Media Report Period 1

Syria in Global Media 2

Felm appeals for peace in Syria (14.10.2016)

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HOW TO SUPPORT BOTTOM-UP COMMUNITY RESILIENCE IN SYRIA. Side event organized by Crisis Management Initiative, Felm, Fida International, Finn Church Aid, Kehys, Kepa and Save the Children Finland. 23rd of January 2017, from 9.30 to 12.30 at Marina Congress Center, Helsinki. Registration: Program.