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Journalist Fellows' Papers

Syria's Missing Narratives

Reuters Institute Fellow's Paper

Basma Atassi, a Syrian journalist fellow from 2015, has written an insightful and thoughtful study into how many media organisations, both regional and international, have paid insufficient attention to attempts at local reconciliation during the conflict in her home country.  In her paper, called ‘Syria's Missing Narratives’, Basma argues that the terrible tragedies over the past five years have cast a shadow on the local initiatives that were having an impact on the lives of thousands of residents.Here’s how Basma describes her research: "Local and active social actors have been marginalised by the media at the expense of high-level officials and active participants in the fighting who relay defiant and uncompromising messages from the country. "Social actors have been powerful in their community, but failing to express extreme, stereotypical, violent or confrontational views, they have been neglected by both national and international media. If reported, they would have possibly provided a deeper understanding of the intricate tapestry of various communities and the complexity of the conflict along non-religious lines. But more crucially, the wider context and positive instances of connectedness could have shed light on the dynamics and social forces which have kept Syrian communities interwoven. "In this paper, I explore the reasons that have led to the media marginalisation of civil society actors and locally based initiatives. The case study of the town of Barzeh, which endured brutal unrest and battles and thereafter witnessed a peace process, provides an insight into how local, regional and international media outlets used a war framing when covering the reconciliation initiative, including by largely ignoring the participants in the peace deal."

As with all Fellows’ research papers, any opinions expressed are those of the author and not of the Institute.

Image:  REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh