Listening Post
Syria's media blackout
The Syrian government bars most independent journalists from the country, making first-hand reporting impossible.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2012 07:38

Syria has regularly made headlines since the uprising began there last March, but getting an accurate portrayal of what is happening on the ground has not been easy. For much of the duration of the unrest, the international media has been barred from entering the country. That looked as though it was about to change when the Arab League stipulated that the media should be allowed into the country during its monitoring mission. But even before violence forced the Arab League to suspend its mission, news reports coming out of Syria were being questioned.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad has been accused of restricting journalists' access to the real stories, so once again media outlets have been relying on citizen journalism. And it is hard to get a clear picture when most news reports are accompanied by disclaimers from media outlets that can not vouch for the authenticity of the material. Our News Divide this week looks at Syria, a country back under a media blackout.

Quick hits from the media world: A Pakistani TV host is fired after she goes on a moralistic marauding spree in a Karachi park; four top employees at the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun newspaper in the UK have been arrested after investigators were handed new evidence; the third director of the Shabelle Media Network in Somalia has been murdered since 2007; and WikiLeaks front man, Julian Assange, announces he will host a 10-part TV show on Russia Today. 

How will political change in Guatemala impact press freedom?

For journalists in the Central American nation of Guatemala, working in a country that has dealt with so much bloodshed has all too often meant putting their own lives on the line. During the country's civil war, many journalists vanished from newsrooms only to be found in morgues.

That war has ended and the dangers to Guatemalan journalists have changed: there are threats from drug gangs who have moved in from neighbouring Mexico, organised crime mobs have silenced many reporters and vigilante security groups out to enforce order are also proving problematic to report on.

In our feature story this week, we speak to people on both sides of Guatemala's media story - from Lucia Escobar, a journalist who has been forced to go into hiding to the country's new president, Otto Perez Molina, who has promised an era of security for journalists in the country.

Our web video of the week combines stop-motion animation, an original music score and ... books. It is called the Joy of Books and was filmed in a book store in Toronto. Canadian art director Sean Ohlenkamp, along with 28 volunteers, spent four nights putting the film together. The lively book display has racked up more than two million hits online and we think it is worth every one! 

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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