The Listening Post

The Syrian propaganda war

The Assad government’s last strike; and South Sudan – a new nation struggles to build an independent media landscape.

For three months, the Assad regime has had one strategy for dealing with the foreign press – it has simply locked them out. News coming out of Damascus has been shaped by anti-government protesters whose material is often unverifiable. But the Syrian regime is realising that to get the message out there, it will have to open up the country to the foreign media.

It has been doing that over the past couple of weeks – but only a bit. The message being put out is tightly controlled and journalists are closely monitored. In our News Divide this week we look at the latest move in the propaganda battle that is playing an integral role in the country’s ongoing power struggle.

In this week’s News Bytes: The New York Times implicates Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, in the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad; authorities in Belarus mark their independence day by blocking social media sites; Dominique Strauss-Kahn faces another accusation of sexual assault – this time from a journalist; and the phone hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s leading British tabloid takes a dramatic turn.

Back in January, journalists flocked to South Sudan to report on a landmark referendum for independence that would pave the way for the birth of the world’s newest nation. But six months on, local journalists say they are facing the same challenges as they did under the control of Khartoum – arrests, intimidation and restrictions on media freedom.

In this week’s feature Listening Post‘s Adnan Ahmed looks at how the young country is struggling to build a healthy media environment.

Our Internet video of the week is testimony to the power of parody. Last December, MasterCard pulled the plug on payments to WikiLeaks. This move prompted internet activists to seek revenge and attack the companies’ own websites. The move hit everybody in the pocket – and in an attempt to regain some of their lost funding, WikiLeaks have cheekily released a spoof advert that borrows from the well-known MasterCard adverts. The ad has gone viral, racking up over half a million views. 


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