Earthquake made reliable information even more important for Syrians

Syria map

Syrians continue to adopt social media and social messaging apps as the primary channels through which they access news, even more so during and after the earthquake, new Audience Research from Free Press Unlimited shows. They are also adept at recognizing partisan media and look for news from familiar, credible media that are free from political bias.

Originally, this audience research was scheduled for January and February 2023, but was delayed until March 2023 due to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria on 6th February 2023. The aftermath of the 2023 earthquake again showed the importance for Syrians to have access to credible information. The research study was adapted to include questions on news consumption before and after the earthquake.

This audience research was conducted to provide Free Press Unlimited with insights into Syrians’ media consumption habits, their information needs, and their perceptions and attitudes towards the media they consume. A similar research was conducted in 2020.

Key findings

  • In the 1,200 surveys that were conducted, the majority (60%) of respondents use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter more than three times a day to access news.
  • The preference for social media is even more apparent when it comes to news coverage about the earthquake, for this, 81% of the respondents turned to social media, followed by messaging apps (28%) and television (25%).
  • In 2023, Syrians required news content about local issues, economic news and updates regarding basic services, all of which differed from the 2020 findings.
  • The earthquake in Southeastern Turkey and Northern Syria added to the hardships of people who had already experienced 12 years of war, most likely leading to Syrians enacting “news avoidance” because they are exhausted from negative news, propaganda and fake news.
  • Respondents expressed that they especially appreciated news coverage on the earthquake that did not split the country in opposing regions, and instead focused on the human story for the nation as a whole.

Representation of youth and women

One important result to highlight is the experience of Syrian women and youth in particular when it comes to news consumption. Youth respondents expressed they feel stereotyped by the media, whereas women respondents often feel largely ignored. Respondents did say that they now see more women represented in Syrian media, however, both youth and women do not believe their interests are covered by traditional media. This shows in their high use of social media, because they feel their interests are better represented through these platforms.


The following recommendations are coming from the 2023 Audience Research:

  • Independent media are valued. There is consistent positive valuation of independent media and support for its growth. It will be important to differentiate media outlets with independent news content from others. There are opportunities for such media outlets to create engagement, dialogue and peace building through their social media channels. 
  • Since Syrians have shifted to social media and messaging apps as their primary channel for accessing news information, media outlets should work to ensure that their stories are branded, link back to their social media hashtags or accounts, and create shareable content for the most popularly used social media and apps. Media outlets can capitalise on the unique features of each platform by tailoring content for each channel.
  • Media outlets should consider ways to engage youth in stories that meet their interests - local news, economic news, and employment. Women too want more representation in the media, and information that responds to their interests in entertainment, fashion and culture.
  • Lastly it is important to remember that the earthquake brought Syrians together and made them stop thinking of regime and opposition dualities. The media have a role in bringing people together by telling the nation’s story.

Free Press Unlimited and Syria

This audience research study is another component of Free Press Unlimited’s long-term commitment to the development of an ethical and independent media sector in Syria, which enables an environment conducive to press freedom, where the media serves the interests of the public and where journalists and media experts can work professionally and effectively without fear. This type of in-depth research that Free Press Unlimited is carrying out, helps to see how the media is responding to challenging events.

The study was executed by Jouri Research and Consulting and conducted across 10 different locations inside Syria to gain a diverse range of perspectives from Syrian audience groups, focusing on individuals with different religious, political, ethnic and social backgrounds as well as age, gender and education differences.

Please find the complete report below
Do you have any remarks or questions, please get in touch with us through

Share this page:

Access to information, 
Media and conflict