A Decade in Power: Syria under Bashar al-Assad’s Rule
While many aspects of political life remained stagnant over the last ten years, media was a field that witnessed many important changes.
Before 2000, the regime had a total control over what was being published and broadcast. Three state-owned newspapers and one official TV channel were the only sources of information available to the Syrians for many years.
These government mouthpieces focused on three main rhetorical lines: sustaining the image of the president as an irreproachable, all-powerful leader; turning attention to the plight of the Palestinian people; and denigrating western policies in the Middle East. Any critical evaluation of the internal situation of the country was prohibited.
In the 1990s, the spread of satellite channels allowed the Syrians to open up to the world but only after 2000 did local private and independent publications start sprouting.
Since then, many journalists and ordinary citizens found a space of free expression especially over the internet. For the first time, internal issues started being discussed publically.
At the same time though, the crackdown on reporters continues. Many private media outlets have been shut or subjected to intimidation in recent years.