Syrian journalists go in-depth

In a country torn about by war, it could be argued that the need to document history and carry out accurate, investigative journalism is especially crucial to help to hold to account actors of war

By Daham Alasaad, Rozana

Map research and the verification of sources, locations, data and time. Investigative techniques and methodology. These are but some of the tools that 15 professional Syrian journalists were trained to use as partners in an investigative project called “Syria in Depth” run by International Media Support (IMS) together with The Guardian foundation and in collaboration with Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ).

The aim was to teach the participating journalists to work more in-depth with their stories and to help them improve the process of verifying the media and information they work with.

“Syria in Depth gave the participating Syrians journalists the opportunity to learn more about international standards of professional journalism, to acquire the skills of professional trainers and to employ them to produce in-depth stories despite the war conditions in the country,” says Emad Omar, one of the project instructors.



Another picture of the war

Over the course of three intensive workshops – each over five days between August 2017 and January 2018 – every journalist worked on his/her own in-depth projects and received continuous feedback from the instructors to make sure that their topics were covered in a balanced and impartial way.

“The Syria in Depth-project has given me the chance to meet with investigation trainers. I could use their experience and got feedback from them to develop my story,” says Mohamed Namous, who participated in the workshops.

From medical and environmental to political and social; the investigative stories that were produced spanned a broad spectrum of topics and have provided a different picture of life in Syria.

All the productions, whether in print, film or multimedia, have been assessed and edited by professional editors and lawyers and some of the stories will be published in media like Sada El-Sham, Syrian Voice, Ain Al Madinah, Al Hayat, Daraj, and Syria Direct.

On the website of the project, a selection of productions in English and Arabic are available.

Online training

Screenshot from video

Due to the situation in Syria, the workshops took place in Turkey and participants took the journey from cities all over Syria and from their exiles in neighbouring countries. But seven of the 15 trainees had to attend the training virtually because they were not able to cross the Syrian-Turkish border.

“It is very problematic that not everyone can attend the training physically, since it limits the learning experience. To make the most of this project we need to find a way in which we can do a more comprehensible training online since the Syrian journalists we are working with are the ones who are doing the work on the ground. In essence, they are the ones risking their lives and who we really should cater for and support,” says Henrik Grunnet, advisor at IMS.

Daham Alasaad is a Syrian journalist and a participant of the Syria in depth-project, during which he produced the documentary film ‘The People From No Mans Land’ about the Rukban Refugee Camp on the border between Jordan and Syria.