Syria Direct

Overview and Mission

Launched in 2013, Syria Direct is a non-profit journalism organization that produces timely, credible coverage of Syria by training a small group of Syrian and international citizen journalists in professional news-gathering and unbiased, in-depth reporting. Syria Direct publishes original news reports, features, investigations, interviews and multimedia journalism from both inside and outside Syria, published to its bilingual Arabic and English news website.

Despite forecasts to the contrary, the Syrian crisis is far from over. It is a crisis in transition rather than one in retreat. During that transition—and beyond—Syria Direct presents a unique, necessary model for robust, human and in-depth journalism about Syria, that is told by Syrians.

- Tom Rollins, Editor-in-Chief

Syria Direct’s mission is to build networks of trained journalists, within the Syrian diaspora and Syria itself. By training refugees in the principles and practices of independent, professional journalism, Syria Direct gives them the tools to help the world better understand the realities, challenges and choices that the Syrian people face on a day-to-day basis.

Syria Direct’s website hosts a regular audience of around 100,000 readers including members of the diplomatic and aid communities, analysts, Syria watchers and concerned citizens. Over the past five years, Syria Direct has developed into a trusted, leading source on events unfolding inside Syria and its reportage has been cited by Middle East Eye, Business Insider, New York Times and more.

To learn more about Syria Direct’s work, subscribe to the Syria Direct newsletter or follow them on Twitter.

GPD Support

GPD has provided $365,000 over four years to help launch and establish Syria Direct. Syria Direct’s journalism training emphasizes the tenets of professional journalism, from identifying sources and checking facts to providing balanced, well-rounded reporting on contentious issues. This organization is unique in that is it committed to using the highest journalistic standards to allow Syrian citizen journalists to tell their own story and set the news agenda.

Program Impact

To date, Syria Direct has trained over 175 Syrians in the fundamentals of journalism. Through a training program run out of its newsroom, Syria Direct has trained Syrians displaced from the conflict and provided them with a space to conduct interviews, investigate and report alongside our team of Syrian and international journalists. Trainees have gone on to work for local and regional news outlets, international NGOs and the UN. Syria Direct has also trained dozens of Syrian citizen journalists located inside the country through remote training programs.

What’s Next

As the war in Syria transitions to a new phase, Syria Direct will continue to report and document the experiences of Syrians who have by now endured seven long years of war. Syria Direct will remain a trusted source on the themes relevant to Syrians within this period of the war: reconciliation with a hostile government, detentions and forced disappearances, allocation of services, transitional justice and more. Syria Direct will continue to serve its international readership and provide Syrians with a platform to tell the story of their country for years to come.

Program Impact

Syria Direct trains twelve aspiring Syrian journalists every six months. Their stories have been featured in USA Today, CNN.com, Radio Free Europe and other major international media outlets including Le Monde and The Toronto Globe and Mail. The organization also engages popular social media platforms to build audience. Syria Direct’s Facebook page has been attracting and informing a growing young and largely Syrian, Arabic-speaking user community, and the Twitter account has thousands of followers, many of whom are journalists, diplomats, and other thought leaders who shape the debate on Syria.

What’s Next

Syria Direct plans to launch an Arabic-language website which will extend the content’s reach to a new audience and will give the Syrian trainees an opportunity to build a portfolio in Arabic, thus increasing their likelihood for professional success in the field.
Over the next few years, Syria Direct will continue to tackle the biggest challenge of transforming the Syrian media ecosystem: professionalizing citizen journalists’ news-gathering skills. While the citizen journalism model succeeded at providing behind the scenes coverage during the Arab Spring, the videos and reports produced lacked significant context and background. Training will give these news stories the credibility necessary to be impactful.

I was inspired to work with Amjad Tadros to develop and fund Syria Direct due to the significance of the events in Syria as well as the need to develop and maintain a credible source of information and perspective on the ground. By creating a program focused on reporting and training journalists, we are able to inform decision-makers and build the basis for what will hopefully become a free press in the future.

- John DeBlasio, Founder of GPD Charitable Trust

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