Syria and the Media
John Murphy introduces an extended essay shedding light on the flow of information out of Syria.
In common with all international news organisations, the BBC has sometimes struggled to tell the full story of the fighting which has ebbed and flowed through Syria for nearly a year and a half, as anti-government forces seek to overthrow president Assad.
After more than forty years in power, the Assad dynasty has a chokehold on the Syrian media. The news Syrians get from their televisions, radios and papers is strictly controlled by the state. Foreign reporters have also found their access to the country blocked by the government.
So international media have increasingly relied on images and reports from Syrians, willing to take the considerable risks associated with trying to tell their own version of the story. But how far can we rely on what we're being shown, when those unsteady images shot on mobile phones are posted on the Internet? And how are the lives of the "citizen journalists" who filmed them being threatened (and changed) by what they're doing?
James Harkin has been talking to one amateur cameraman who found himself on the frontline of a propaganda war.
(A clip from amateur footage of unknown provenance, later released on Ugarit News, and purporting to show Free Syrian Army soldiers in Anadan, near Aleppo. Credit: AP Photo / Ugarit News via AP video)