As you may have noticed by the numerous videos we've shared recently, the Syrian uprising has been characterized by citizen journalism and social networking, perhaps more than any other uprising in the Arab world since Egypt. These eyewitness accounts have become increasingly important for keeping tabs on the uprising as restrictions on foreign journalists in Syria mount, and an opposition outlet broadcasting from social networks is at the center of it all.
The importance of these social networks has been made even clearer as Syrian state media has clamped down on foreign outlets reporting in the country. As a "day of rage" roiled Syria, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency has published an article condemning the "distortion campaigns" against the country by satellite television channels like Qatar-based Al Jazeera and Dubai-based Al Arabiya (the article also calls out the video chat room Paltalk). SANA accuses Al Jazeera of pretending a man killed in Yemen was Syrian and quoting "imaginary 'Don Quixote-windmills-eyewitnesses'" who contradict themselves, and Al Arabiya of issuing a false report about resignations from the ruling Baath Party and photoshopping pictures.
Earlier in the week, SANA announced that Syria's bar association had launched a legal investigation into foreign media outlets for inciting turmoil in the country. SANA's article comes during the same week that Al Jazeera Arabic (there's also an English-language service) announced it was suspending its operations in Syria because of attacks on employees and restrictions imposed by the Syrian regime. The news channel told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the government had pressured Al Jazeera's Syrian employees to resign or stop reporting news and prevented Al Jazeera's correspondents from entering the southern hotbed of Daraa. Assailants also hurled eggs and stones at Al Jazeera's Damascus bureau, according to the network.
As Al Jazeera scales back its operations, however, the Sham News Network, which appears to be spearheaded by Syria's pro-democracy protesters and based in Damascus, is becoming more prominent. The network, whose name we assume is derived from the Arabic word for the eastern Mediterranean region that includes Syria, uploads amateur videos from across Syria and issues news updates on its Facebook pages, YouTube page, and Twitter feeds.
One of Sham's most widely circulated videos this week features a Syrian demonstrator in the coastal city of Banias explaining to the international community how protesters want to create a "new Syria":
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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