Propaganda is one tactic used to strengthen prejudice ideology and deliver false information. This unethical practice is emerging in Syria, where journalists are working at the cost of their lives report neutral and honest news. Giving the public accurate, unbiased, knowledgeable and hopeful information is one step in preparing for a peaceful resolution.

The Assad Regime and its opposition are suppressing freedom and sanctuary. President Bash al-Assad has formed a bias in the media by placing heavy regulations on anything that’s produced. In fact, death is optional for many journalists.

Lina Chawaf left Damascus after having been a journalist in Syria for 20 years. Her projects in those days was affiliated with fragile social problems. Her family moved to Canada, but she set up a radio station in Paris, France, called Rozana Radio. Her goal is to transmit independent, neutral reports and online information to Syria.

Though almost all foreign news channels have been blocked in the country, Rozana Radio uses different transmissions to bypass the interference. Each day she delivers two hours of news, comments and interviews through a satellite connection. It’s funded by French government agencies and nonprofit organizations across Europe.

Rozana’s website has had over 75,000 visitors in 2015. The information gathered for each report is researched and experienced by journalists who are using aliases to protect themselves. Over 70 journalists are working to produce findings to Rozana at the border of Turkey.

The training program for hidden journalists is called Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF). Their goal is to keep track of facts, data and daily struggles in Syria. Rozana’s news coverage is administered by five other Syrian journalists from thirty news networks with information across Syria.

The Syrian crisis includes shortening lifespan and is responsible for a large number of refugees. Journalists for Rozana are reporting why it is that the United Nation depicts Syria’s development as lagging behind. The station gives Syrians advice such as how to cope without electricity. It also works to inform parents how to care for their children without resources to food or warmth.

In an article written by Youssef al-Ahmad on Rozana’s website, the author highlights how emergency responses are being enhanced. Consequences to the opposition against the Assad Regime are hindering civilian livelihood.

Ali Diab invited defense leaders to democratically assign governmental members in a Board of Directors for a Civil Defense of Syria. In 2012, the Free Civil Defense corps began. The Civil Defense is primarily made of volunteers who train in Turkey. They have successfully protected 12,000 Syrians from violent disputes.

One other main topic Youssef al-Almad addresses is the involvement of women in Civil Defense efforts. They work with men as relief operators and increase productivity in rescue attempts. This type of information educates Syria and encourages equality, community activism and a morally neutral reporting tactic.

Though Rozana has been expected to support an “overseas agenda,” Chawaf makes it clear that her station’s mission is to undermine Assad’s grip on the media and deliver fair analysis of internal struggle and success. Since 20 percent of Syrians have internet access, Chawaf has to expose her station to multiple countries so word can reach Syrians quickly.

Many of those who have online access do not have stable power or service. Chawaf hopes to encourage ways to utilize other platforms to penetrate borders. She humbly admits in an article by Amar Toor from The Verge, “It’s not easy to control emotion if you’re seeing your own people getting killed. You have to be neutral, which is how we have trained them in Turkey.”

Katie Groe

Sources: SIDA, ROZANA, Reuters, The Verge

north korea
Media in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is tightly controlled. Television stations broadcast government-endorsed news and statements, documentaries affirming the god-like status of the Kim family and politically fueled dramas. Radio subscribers are treated daily to Kim Jong-Un’s schedule and criticism of policies that do not match the country’s own.

As with most technology, radio usage is restricted. Most South Korean broadcasts are jammed so that North Koreans on the receiving end hear little more than ‘jet plane noise.’ All legal radios in North Korea are tuned to specific stations. They are checked and registered with police.

It is radios of the illegal variety that are beginning what some are referring to as a ‘quiet revolution.’ Smuggled in from China or homemade, they access a variety of independent programming. Providing potential listeners with real-time news is the purpose of groups like Radio Free Asia, Voice of America and Radio Free Chosun.

One such group, Free North Korea Radio (FNKR,) was founded by Kim Seong Min. Once a North Korean soldier, Min tuned into a South Korean station “out of curiosity.” The program he listened to debunked myths surrounding Kim Jong Il, particularly regarding the place of the Great Leader’s birth. The more he listened, the more he doubted what he had been taught. Min eventually made his escape to the south.

FNKR, which is based in Seoul, now broadcasts three hours per day. Staffers, most North Korean defectors, report on the outside world. In an effort to protect their families, almost everyone but Min uses a pseudonym.

Radio stations like FNKR reroute the information paths into North Korea. For over half a century, the North Korean government has chosen and embellished its facts in a tactful manner.

Radio distribution has been spurred on by the black markets that have supported North Koreans since the famine of the 1990s. By engaging in private enterprises, these citizens undermine the state distribution system, and consequently break North Korean law. Even so, an estimated 80 percent of North Koreans are involved in the black market today. In 2010, research group InterMedia conducted a study  to see how much of the North had access to foreign media.

Radio remains the most effective means of communicating news to North Koreans. Curiosity, well-intentioned piracy and radios are breaking the government’s attempt at monopolizing the country’s media.

– Olivia Kostreva

Sources: ABC, BBC, The Guardian, InterMedia
Photo: The Guardian