AVLYST: Advocacy Journalism and the Syrian War
Phil Hammond (London South Bank University) gives a guest lecture on advocacy journalism and the Syrian war.
International news coverage of the conflict in Syria has In some respects echoed the reporting of an earlier era, recalling the style of ‘attached’ or advocacy journalism that developed in the 1990s. As in much Western reporting of the wars of that period, some journalists have interpreted the conflict as a moral challenge for the international community, representing it in simplified, black-and-white terms and calling for ‘something to be done’ to counter an evil regime and rescue innocent victims.
An imperative to establish a moral framework for the story seemed to preclude more complex and searching questions about the motivations and actions of local and international actors, blinding mainstream journalists to the role of Western powers in the region. Yet by the end of 2016 the narrative was fast unravelling, with questions being raised about a number of high-profile news stories, such as the use of chemical weapons and the role of the ‘White Helmets’ relief workers. In the face of such criticism, and the alternative sources of news and information circulating online, mainstream news organisations and others sought to close down debate and to delegitimise dissent.
Phil Hammond's visit is an initiative of the ENCODE research network at ISK/UiT.