Security forces raid Aleppo University --- posted on EA on 5 June 2012
Coverage of the post-election protests in Iran in 2009, a key precursor to the current crisis in Syria, powerfully illustrates the difficulty inherent in working with non-traditional sources at such great distances. While much of the citizen journalism covering the Green Revolution of 2009 was accurate and insightful, significant portions of it were impossible to verify. Some elements, even more problematically, we produced for the very purpose of sowing confusion. For example, in the face of severe government restrictions on traditional journalism, opponents of the Iranian regime, such as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, resorted to faking videos and republishing old videos with new dates in an effort to supply evidence of the regime’s imminent demise. The Iranian government and its supporters were equally dishonest, faking their own videos and paying bloggers to leave positive comments on Facebook pages and Western news stories. This cacophony of misinformation drowned out and thus neutralized the impact of much of the difficult, dangerous work being done by honest Iranian citizen journalists.
Three years later, Syrian citizens, working in concert with a global network of web journalists, have crafted a system that helps ameliorate these concerns. A complex process now goes into producing, collecting, organizing—and verifying—the countless digital puzzle pieces that tell the story of the Syrian Civil War.