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Listening Post

Syria's media war

An increasingly complex war of images and representations has been raging alongside the conflict on the ground.

Last Modified: 25 May 2013 09:09
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"Every picture tells a story" is a lesson the media learned a long time ago. Now, in the age of new media, amateur video footage comes with a string of narratives loaded with political intent.

Nowhere has that been more true than in Syria, where forces fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad have wielded video cameras wherever their comrades have aimed their guns. But judging by footage filmed by the rebels themselves showing their own acts of torture, executions and now cannibalism, it seems that the power of the media may have gone to their heads.

The online battle has also heated up. Over the past weeks, the Syrian Electronic Army has been more active than ever in hacking mainstream media outlets who they say have misled the world with anti-Assad propaganda. The BBC, the Associated Press, the Guardian and, most recently, the Financial Times have all been hit with embarrassing takedowns – often through their Twitter feeds.

The News Divide this week takes a fresh look Syria through the increasingly complex war of images and representations. We speak to Jillian C York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; Dina Matar, senior lecturer in Arab Media and Political Communication at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London; Syrian journalist Malek al-Abdeh and the Syrian political consultant and commentator, George Ajjan.

From images we turn to words. Our feature takes a look at how controversial language can shape the way we see a story. Can words like "illegal immigrant", "terrorist" and "Islamist" be weapons in a war of ideas? Media style guides under scrutiny with the Listening Post’s Marcela Pizzaro.

Also in media news: more revelations of US government surveillance of journalists and their sources; the increasingly severe media lockdown in the run up to Iran’s presidential election and Rob Ford, a divisive figure in Canadian politics, whose political future hangs on the outcome of a crowdfunding initiative that could expose him as a drug user.

In our web video of the week, YoutTube gives itself a hug for its eighth birthday. It’s a love song to a website that has become as much a part of our lives as, well, TV. How did the years fly by like that?

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

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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