In 2007, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) began its ongoing cooperation with independent Syrian journalists. Since then, the institute has conducted numerous training workshops on the basics of professional journalism, in Damascus, Istanbul and Beirut. During that time, a group of journalists trained by the IWPR established the “Damascus Bureau” project, and by 2010, it became an important publishing platform for independent Syrian journalists.
Through its website, the Damascus Bureau covers the most prominent political, economic and cultural news in both Arabic and English. Rather than focusing on breaking news, the website provides an in-depth coverage of issues related to civil society, refugees, human rights and transitional justice in the country. Furthermore, the group has held training workshops to enhance the skills and capacity of Syrian journalists, from data aggregation and editing, all the way to finalizing news stories and video reports.
Syrian media outlets have been monopolized by the regime for decades, which is why the Damascus Bureau project offers an unorthodox experience in Syrian journalism, by telling stories from the core of the Syrian uprising. “We aim to establish ourselves as a genuine alternative media project. Thus, the regime’s media, which we deem authoritarian and nonprofessional, is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of oppression and misinformation,” as one of the co-founders said in an interview with SyriaUntold.
Today, Damascus Bureau has established a network of correspondents that cover stories first-hand from inside Syria. The project has also funded several promising media projects, which contributes to the establishment of freedom of the press in Syria, and breaks the regime’s information monopoly.