How to Cover Syria from Beirut, Lebanon

Based on the coverage of Syria in US newspapers, it has become possible to identify certain characteristics of this coverage from Beirut.

1. Write the articles but rely on a number of poorly paid local stringers who can translate and interpret for you.

2. Call the Hariri press office and the press offices of Syrian exile groups to basically direct you as soon as you arrive in the city.

3. You don’t have to leave your home: the job requires the use of Skype extensively. You don’t have to look for Skype addresses: the Hariri press office and its allies in the Syrian exile opposition will provide you with names and can even make up names for you.

4. It is OK to be emotional in your coverage in sympathy of the armed Syrian groups, just as it is NOT OK to be emotional in covering the Arab side of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

5. Cover human suffering extensively, unless it is caused by Syrian armed groups themselves.

6. Don’t cite the real leaders of the Islamist-led Syrian exile groups: instead, cite Syrians living in Western countries in order to give a Westernized face to the Syrian exile opposition.

7. Try to minimize the Saudi-Qatari-Kuwaiti-Turkish role on the side of the Syrian armed groups.

8. Feel free to engage in fund-raising campaigning in you articles by constant references to the poverty of the armed groups and their lack of arms and equipment. Show a few tears too.

9. Make an attempt to show the humanity of the armed groups: pictures of a child fighters should underline that they are children after all and that they represent the humane face of the armed groups.

10. Don’t talk to two sides in the conflict. One side (the side supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar) is sufficient.

11. Remember: car bombs are not that bad when used by the side supported by the US. Car bombs are only heinous weapons of destruction when used by enemies of the US.

12. In articles about foreign intervention in Syria, remember that intervention by Saudi Arabia, Qatari, Bahrain, Turkey, Jordan, Libya, NATO, Israel, EU, and the US is not really intervention. It is merely humanitarian gestures of goodwill. Foreign intervention only refers to Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah.

13. In covering Lebanese intervention in Syria, remember that we are talking only about Hezbollah. Intervention (military and otherwise) by Hariri and Salafi groups does not count and does not warrant intervention.

14. Remember that the yardstick of professional journalism in covering Syria is the media of Saudi princes and the Hariri family.

15. Rumors and fabrications spread by Hariri and Saudi media are “fit to print” if they serve the propaganda purposes of the US-led coalition.

16. Prejudice and bigotry against Alawi is essential for understanding the conflict in Syria. Please refer to all Alawis, including babies, as Shabiha. This will make it easier to justify their murder by armed groups.

17. Try your best to conceal the heavy Islamist and fanatical leadership and membership of the armed groups. Instead, try to find someone wearing jeans and claim that he speaks for the liberal and secular armed unit.

18. Any story of defection by one person, even if a soldier, or an assistant to a driver of a minor clerk in the local government recycling plant should be given prominent coverage.

19. Please forget about our past hostility to al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera has now changed and we regard it as an exemplary channel representing the magnificent propaganda of the Qatari royal family.

20. Hariri family will provide you with names and phone numbers of their men in the Lebanese Internal Security department and those are willing to provide any information or rumor that are against Hezbollah interests and you may cite those individuals as “senior Lebanese government security officials.”

21. Israeli interests and propaganda should be heavily represented in the coverage, and Israel should be portrayed as the friend of the Syrian people, its occupation and attacks on Syrian territory notwithstanding.

22. Just like the coverage of the Iraqi exile opposition prior to 2003, please remember that all Syrian exile opposition figures are smart, articulate (even in the case of the Cicero of Syria), and really funny.

23. In talking about Syrian chemical weapons, please don’t mention the Israeli arsenal of WMDs. Instead, and to make Israelis always look like victims, use pictures of Israelis posing with gas masks whenever you write about Syrian chemical weapons.

24. Remember, you are serving to boost morale and not only to “cover” the story. Every week you need to write something to the effect that Bashar’s regime is falling and that the rebels are just about to take over downtown Damascus.

25. It is important to remind readers that 99 percent of the Syrian people support the US and Israeli roles in Syria and that 99 percent of them fiercely oppose the regime. Only scoundrels and thugs still support the regime.

26. In underling the success of the Syrian exile opposition in gaining support among all minorities in Syria, the Hariri press office in Beirut will provide you with the phone numbers of a Christian, a Druze, a Kurd, and even an Alawi who oppose the regime.

27. Knowledge of Arabic – as always in covering the Middle East – is not needed at all provided you know what a falafel sandwich looks like.

Comments

Hey, As'ad, when was the last time you went to Syria...? Or any Arab country other than Lebanon for that matter? In any event, no one envies your task: it must be quite challenging to study and teach the Middle East and try to relate to its daily challenges from the sleepy agricultural confines of Stanislaus, California.

as much as As'ad AbuKhalil may dispise the " governments"of the " Resistance Axis ", he still suffers greatly when the Imperialìst Hegemon Axis picks on his fellow Israel Haters. Where, Oh, where can the Push Them Into the Sea,Arabs Be? ?

as much as the fan of the dumbest prez in USA history likes "bush_the_liberator", what about coming to "liberated" Baghdad to put a Zionist flag on the monument for the "liberator"? I am sure that the grateful "liberated" Iraqis put the monument on the main square, no less. Then the fan could return to USA and found his (?) job gone, just in case to not take a cent from the USA priority - the Zionist colonizer aparteid "state". Even if he(?) works for AIPAK, it still could be outsourced LOL

Wow. And you live.. Oh yes, in California? What a hypocrite.

Wow and AH could not see a difference between blogger's comments on the topic he knows (from the birth, by the way) and a hackjob of reports from a "journalist"'s who is not even able to read the local media. What a ... genius

Great article Mr As'ad.
Let's not forget how reporters about Syria, outside Syria will not forget to mention every once in a while that Assad is "worse than israel" or how "Syria is the new enemy".

Great article by Miss Sharmine about Syria's death toll.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/15/syrian-death-tolls-t...

I am an American journalist and I cover Syria from Syria. I agree with the point that it is useless to cover Syria from Beirut and over Skype but I don't think the other points in this article are valid, when I see a jet blow a building to pieces how am I supposed to relate that to the Israeli and Turkish role in Syria? I also am very willing to be emotional vis a vis my coverage of suffering inflicted by the Israeli Army and air force I think there is hypocrisy in the western media's unwillingness to address Palestinian suffering but it is not fair to pretend that the slaughter by the regime is invented I have seen it with my own eyes and I have risked my life to see it.

I am looking forward for link of PH articles with "emotional" reporting about Zionist crimes (including against Syria). Although, I would also like to see some links to PH reporting the slaughter by F$A gangs, with notes on how they are fully supported by USA and GCC. Or is it " invented"? Has PH seen the crimes of F$A and reported about them?

In short, PH is a typical apologist for NATO/GCC/Zionist crimes against Syria under pretext of "revolution". As'ad is openly and clearly against Syrian rulers, but still PH pretends that his article is not relevant. Sure, for the NATO/GCC/Zionist media there is no crimes by their puppet "revos".

Wow, did somebody blame Assad Abu Khalil as "regime supporter"? Unfortunately, ad hominem is an old and weak tactic to discredit the views. If you check his post on AngryArab, you will see his real views on Syrian regime. (I am critical about some of his posts on Syria, but not blaming him as "Qatar or Hariri supporter) Truth hurts, when the "revolutionaries" of Syria or Lebanon meet it, they will inevitably use "ad hominem"... This is just a great article, enjoy it.

As'ad AbuKhalil is no supporter of the Syrian regime. What he is, though is a brilliant academic who perceives the region's conflicts in their true light and with a degree of integrity you will never see from the likes of Fu'ad Ajami and Walid Phares and other media darlings who have ingratiated themselves as establishment shills who perform on cue for their paymasters. This piece does a great job in highlighting the hypocrisy and cynicism which underlies mainstream media treatment of the current Syrian chaos, undoubtedly developed over decades of covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Akhbar has been as guilty as any other publication of reporting only from Beirut. And perhaps someone should write a blog post "How to give your opinion on the Middle East while working as a lecturer in California"

Its one thing to REPORT from abroad. Its another to share opinions from abroad. This should be obvious.

This is by far the best article in this paper for quite a long time. BTW, you can replace Bashar with Israel and the opposition with Palestinians and you have yet another great piece.

hahaha, excellent, and real

you are doing exactly what you accuse other journalists of doing in this article!

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