Arts, Culture & Media

Can independent radio journalism broadcast in Syria today?

Syria bicycle.jpg

Credit: REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Men ride bicycles past damaged buildings along a street in the Duma neighborhood of Damascus, December 2013.

More than 100 reporters have been killed in Syria since the conflict began there two and a half years ago. And more than 60 are being held hostage or missing.   

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Syrian media personality Honey al Sayed knows that reality well.

Until last year, she was the host of "Good Morning Syria" — an edgy, drive-time radio program with a strong following. But when the government of Bashar al-Assad began to doubt al Sayed's loyalty, she fled.

Now she and other Syrian exiles have started their own station, called Radio SouriaLi — a grassroots, non-profit radio station that began online. The station's team has grown from four to 20 staffers, including eight journalists inside Syria. They have a studio in the Middle East, though they prefer not to specify where.  

"We send our work, our recordings, to that main studio where they edit and upload everything," al Sayed says. "We have a 24/7 playlist with 14 weekly programs ... The kind of programs that we're working on, you can say we're socially political. We're not political, we're not here to report on the death count and the mortar bombs. Everybody else is doing that. What we're trying to do is ... touch on personal stories of what is going on in Syria. "

Al Sayed says she and the radio team seek out stories that spotlight diverse communities of Syrians coming together. She readily acknowledges that it's not easy. 

"With my experience in the past, you are tired of being a puppet or a mouthpiece to a regime. You don't want to be doing the same with any opposition group. You want to still be able to be able to criticize all sides," she says. "This is what media is all about."

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