Dawdaa: The Voice of Reason

25 June 2014

“After three years of uprising and with so many sharp turns, and the emergence of new threats like fundamentalist groups, we believe it is important to preserve a voice for reason, law and a unified civil Syria where people can live freely and responsibly.”

These are the words of one of the co-founders of Dawdaa ("noise" in Arabic), a magazine launched in Sweida, a town in southern Syria which has consistently suffered from lack of media coverage. The town is still controlled by the regime and has thus far been spared the havoc of war, but it is bordered by Daraa, where fierce fighting has continued for two years. 

The idea for the magazine, which was launched in mid-2013, came about from the early stages of the uprising. 

“We found our city, despite the many activities happening here, completely forgotten amidst the media coverage of the uprising,” recounts one of the founders in an interview with SyriaUntold. 

To counter this, the magazine attempts to bring the news of Sweida to the world through a team of journalists, columnists, translators, and other technical staff for the printing and distribution operations.

Dawdaa works with specialized reporters from both cities. The citizen journalists reporting from Sweida work undercover in collaboration with other media outlets and activist groups.

أحد المواطنين في مدينة كفر بطنا بريف دمشق يقرأ ضوضاء وهو يغطي وجهه بها كي لا تعرفه أجهزة الأمن. المصدر: الصفحة الرسمية للمجلة على الفيسبوك

The magazine’s operations are greatly constrained by security concerns for the staff. Printing and distribution is done in utmost secrecy, especially after news about detainees from Sweida being tortured to death by the regime’s security forces.

Funding is another major constraint for the magazine’s work. The magazine functions on a volunteer basis. The only assistance received was a micro-grant from Basma (a Syrian NGO active in the field of media), and support for printing and distribution from SMART (a Syrian NGO active in the field of media) in northern Syria.

The Syrian uprising is said to be the most mediated in modern times. Its mediated nature, however, is not equal to all its parts and conceals significant bias and selectiveness in what events are covered and how. Dawdaa is part of a growing media sphere in Syria that has gone largely unnoticed in the outside world. Nevertheless, its richness, diversity and relative maturity, under the most difficult of circumstances, paints a bright picture for the future of Syrian journalism.

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Illustation by Dima Nechawi Graphic Design by Hesham Asaad