While analysing the framing of one particular event in Syria by different media outlets, independent media stood out for their impartiality and balance in reporting compared to other media organisations. Maintaining the vitality of this still young independent group of media organisations is a challenge, but of vital importance with the state’s control of the media space.
This new event-based approach allows the contextualisation of results, because it compares the reporting of different media organisations on one single event using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. By doing so the study presents a snapshot of the framing used in reporting on Syria. To ensure a diverse representation, the sample includes a selection of domestic (Syrian) and pan-Arab media organisations with mixed preferences towards the dominant parties in the Syrian conflict.
The findings of this research show that many partisan media outlets demonstrate significant polarisation in their reporting by presenting biased, graphic and emotive images to their audiences. The partial portrayal by these media may de-humanise groups of people and has the potential to exacerbate tensions in Syria even further.
The study also highlighted that independent outlets are noticeable for a more neutral stand in their reporting, and that independent media outlets diverge in their use of framing: rather than acting as a mouthpiece for a political actor, they follow their individual organisation’s editorial line.
This research was developed as a new approach towards monitoring the content of media outlets with whom Free Press Unlimited has developed partnerships.
The study also validates the mission of Free Press Unlimited, which is to support emerging media outlets in becoming vital independent news sources for Syrian audiences, even more critical as Syria becomes increasingly a ‘media dark’ area.