Request for proposals for Syrian audience research

Free Press Unlimited wishes to commission an audience behaviour study of the Syrian audience. Below you find the research brief, and information on how you can express your interest to send in a proposal.

Free Press Unlimited (FPU) strongly believes that all people are entitled to have access to unbiased, reliable and timely information. This enables them to assess their own living conditions, influence these and make the right decisions. With its Syria programme, Free Press Unlimited supports the development of a competent, sustainable and independent media sector. The sector is vital for conflict reduction, the growth of a pluralist society and the development of democratic structures.

About the Syria Programme

The overall goal of the program is to contribute to an inclusive, independent, and cohesive media that responds to the needs of Syrians. They provide them with accurate, balanced, timely, and relevant information that reflects the reality of Syrians of all genders and ages, living in urban or rural areas, with a neutral point of view, or affiliated with any direction in which they operate and have ambitions.

This is done by working on three specific objectives: 

  1. Foster an inclusive and cohesive media dialogue. 
  2. Include youth by expressing their voices and promoting their rights in the media, in dialogue and society.
  3. Enhancing accountability through media outlets / professionals and CSOs’ output and content that shape and feed mechanisms to hold duty bearers accountable, promote ethical journalism, and work towards inclusive solutions for Syrian society.

Research objectives

Free Press Unlimited wishes to commission an audience behavior study in order to establish a 'based on sampled Syrian media content' and audience preference, as well as to determine what changes or improvements to its content are required.

Free Press Unlimited has three main objectives to be addressed through this audience research:

  1. Identify the media consumption patterns and the news and information needs, preferences and attitudes of a diverse range of Syrian audiences.
  2. Assess how independent journalism, as part of the media mix, contributes towards dialogue, cohesion, and peace-building.
  3. Create a baseline: Define and understand content that is related to youth and its impact on Syrian youth.
  4. Create a baseline: Define and understand the content related to accountability through ‘evidence based journalism’, like investigative or solution journalism, and its impact on the Syrian audience.

The selected bidder will review and finalise the research questions during the inception phase, in consultation with FPU supported media and staff.

Research questions

The specific research questions to be addressed through this audience research include:

  • What are the media consumption patterns of Syrian audiences (time, frequency, device, content)?
  • What are the news and information needs of Syrian audiences?
  • What are the format and content preferences of Syrian audiences?
  • What online and offline sources do Syrian audiences use for their news and information needs?
  • What level of trust do Syrian audiences have in a range of online and offline news and information sources, including independent media?
  • What do Syrian audiences perceive as independent media?
  • Do Syrian audiences recognize articles focused on solutions and do they appreciate them?
  • How does the Syrian youth see their representation in the produced content by the media?
  • What is the content desire of an audience who has a low or non-existent news consumption habit?
  • Does social media cover news and information needs? How far so?
  • What are the attitudes of Syrian audiences towards content that offers more partisan/unilateral stances or more pluralistic/middle-ground approaches to issues covered?
  • How do Syrian audiences value independent media and what role does it play in their daily lives?
  • Have and how far have media supported cohesion, dialogue and peace-building among Syrian audiences?
  • How does the Syrian audience see the ‘accountability driven content’ has contributed to their daily life struggles?
  • Which mobile applications are used for sharing the news and what is the preferable way to share news per age group and gender?
  • Which social media networks are used for sharing the news and what is the preferable social media channel to use while sharing news per age group and gender?


We are specifically interested in conducting this audience research study within Syria, including in government-controlled areas, Autonomous Administration controlled areas, and Opposition controlled areas. In addition, we would like to include IDPs and Diaspora audiences where possible. A ‘zoom-in case’ within one of these areas is part of the study.

Bidders should indicate which areas in Syria they can access and their logic for choosing the suggested areas. 


In order to meet the research objectives, the audience research will need to gather primary data from a range of Syrian media audiences. In addition, to understand developments within the wider media landscape, it is also required that primary data is gathered from media professionals with a deep understanding of the Syrian media context and the role of independent media within it. These consultations include media professionals that reflect the diversity across geographies and may include media professionals supported by the programme, in consultation with FPU.

In the added document underneath bidders can find suggested research methods to consider. These are not prescriptive, and the bidder is free to propose amended or alternative approaches that they feel will best meet the research objectives and answer the research questions. As part of the inception phase, the successful bidder will gather input and feedback from both the FPU team and project partners to inform the agreed approach.

Security and risk management

Conducting audience research with Syrian audiences presents a range of significant safety and security challenges. Any proposed approach should therefore adopt principles of ‘do no harm’ and a conflict sensitivity approach.

Bidders are requested to outline in detail their approach to identifying and managing risks, and ensuring the safety and security of both researchers and participants during the research process. This should include an assessment of the different risks that may be encountered depending on which part of the country the fieldwork is taking place in, and the steps that will be taken to monitor and minimise these risks.

In addition, bidders are requested to outline the ethical protocols they will follow to ensure informed consent, to protect the respondents’ anonymity where appropriate and to ensure data security.


The proposal should include an itemized budget that clearly identifies the design, fieldwork and reporting costs for each proposed audience research component. Bidders should quote in Euros including all services and taxes.

Quality control

Bidders are requested to include their approach to quality control throughout the research process, include the steps they will take to ensure data credibility and high quality fieldwork is conducted with respondents that meet the required profile.


The main deliverables for this project are:

  • Co-facilitation of a user-centered design workshop that will include FPU staff, FPU supported media and the chosen research team
  • Co-creative team consultation, exchange mechanism
  • Inception report detailing the agreed methodology
  • Data collection instruments (e.g. In-depth interview guides, structured diary template, survey questionnaire)
  • Provide data quality assurance plan before starting the field work
  • Ongoing client consultation either face-to-face or via VoIP
  • Appropriate formatting and adaptation of all materials provided by Free Press Unlimited
  • Weekly progress updates; daily updates during the fieldwork
  • Same-day response to Free Press Unlimited queries
  • All content in English and Arabic - Translation and back-translation of all materials (translation costs can be covered in consultation with FPU)
  • Full recruitment and over-recruitment (if required) of respondents that fully comply with the recruitment criteria determined in consultation with Free Press Unlimited
  • Fieldwork management
  • Audio- or video recordings of all in-depth interviews (where feasible)
  • Participant diary records
  • Transcripts in Arabic and English
  • Data file in SPSS and export format
  • Fully detailed technical report outlining the key methodological stages of each audience research component
  • Descriptive report (20-25 pages) drawing on data from all research components
  • Power point presentation of preliminary and results
  • Participatory results and learning presentation and workshop with Free Press Unlimited and their partners
  • Webinar and Q&A on the results with international presentation stakeholders

Timing and period of performance

Preparation work will start on or around 1 December 2022. The fieldwork will start at the end of approximately 1 month after that. The deliverables are due approximately 12 weeks following Free Press Unlimited’s sign-off of the research instruments and the corresponding translations/adaptations.

Key dates to note include:

  • 5 October – Deadline of indication of interest to submit proposal
  • 31 October – Proposals due
  • 15 November – Winning bidder notified
  • 1 December – Co-creation workshop
  • 15 December– Inception report due
  • 28 February – Fieldwork complete
  • 15 March– Initial findings debrief
  • 30 March – Draft report
  • 15 April – Final report
  • 2 May – Learning workshop to present and discuss key findings


Bidders should quote in Euros including all services and taxes.

The proposal should include an itemized budget that clearly identifies the design, fieldwork and reporting costs for each proposed audience research component.

Bidding Process

Bidders are required to indicate their interest and register their contact details on or before 5 October 2022, COB.

Register here

Bidders are invited to send their questions to on or before 10 October 2022, COB. Telephone inquiries will not be answered.

All questions and their corresponding answers will be submitted by Free Press Unlimited to all bidders on or before 10 October 2022. Proposals are due on or before 20 October 2022. Free Press Unlimited will contact short-listed bidders within 3 weeks of receiving proposals but may contact individual bidders for clarification beforehand.

About your proposal

Bidders are requested to include the following in their proposals:

  • Indicate a full understanding of FPU’s strategic imperatives and the research brief
  • Outline key personnel including a short bio
  • Indicate which parts, if any, will be subcontracted and to whom
  • Describe your methodological approach for each audience research component in detail
  • Outline any incentivisation strategy
  • Include a risk identification and mitigation matrix
  • Include detail of your ethical protocol procedures
  • Outline any anticipated challenges for each step/component
  • Describe your experience in conducting research in Syria and other challenging/conflictive research environments

Terms and conditions

  • Full confidentiality
  • Adherence to Free press Unlimited’s Gender Policy and Code of Conduct
  • Copyright over the data, research and results published lies with Free Press Unlimited
  • Full adherence to ESOMAR codes
  • Unreserved submission to Dutch law
  • Free Press Unlimited reserves the right to alter any or all of the above components or cancel the procurement process altogether 

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