Over the past three and a half years, the revolution has witnessed the formation of countless media projects. These projects vied to manifest professionalism and represent the Syrian voice. Nevertheless, the difficulties that challenge these nascent media outlets, have left them fragile and marginalized, unable to catch up with the revolutionary work on the ground. The Association of Independent Syrian Radio Stations (ABRAJ), a new Syrian project, seeks to change this status quo.
ABRAJ is a non-profit organization that serves as an umbrella organization of six Syrian radio stations active inside and outside Syria: Alwan FM, Radio ANA, Arta FM, Hara FM, Nasaem Syria and Sawt Raya.
In the first media coalition of its kind, and after two months of meetings and preparations, the six radio stations agreed to join efforts and share resources and expertise. The announcement was made after signing the constitution of the organization and the Code of Conduct, on November 18, 2014.
The new project, however, was not established for the sole benefit of the participating stations. “The initiative seeks to create and support new local radio stations dedicated to promote easy access to information in Syria, and provide a balanced content that takes the people’s needs into consideration,” explains one of the founding activists.
As the six radios encountered the same financial and security hardships, activists reasoned that uniting their efforts would help them overcome these obstacles. Moreover, this body of influential radio stations empowers and encourages the emergence of other independent radio stations. Through training courses, as well as providing infrastructure and broadcast technology, ABRAJ aims to raise the standard of journalism and management practices.
Although the project merges the six radios together, it does not erase the individual identity of each participating station, say the activists. “ABRAJ focuses on supporting the principles of independence and diversity in the programs. The collaboration between its members to make its broadcast reach local communities and provide a wider representation of the Syrian people’s aspirations and cultures.”
SyriaUntold has spoken with Radio Nasaem Syria and Alwan FM, with the aim of appreciating the catalyst of the two participating stations:
“We have established ABRAJ to enhance the level coordination and cooperation between Syrian radio stations to organize campaigns and programs,” explains Nasaem Syria, “we also aim to train and empower emerging radio stations, while simultaneously developing our cadres.”
While Alwan FM believes that every station has its strengths and weaknesses, and that this unification will help strengthen each one of them separately. “Today, joint projects are a necessity, especially when it comes to organizing campaigns and developing solidarity mechanisms towards journalists in emergency situations.”
ABRAJ funds itself independently, by collecting membership fees from the six founding stations. They do hope however, that their project receives financial support from international organizations that takes interest in developing media outlets and civil society, which would enable them to continue their project.