By Emily Schneider
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
After 630 days of conflict in Syria and confusion in the media coverage, Syria Deeply, a new media outlet, is synthesizing information sources following the conflict into one easily accessible and user-friendly site.
Syria Deeply is “an independent digital media project led by journalists and technologists, exploring a new model of storytelling around a global crisis,” according to the site’s “about us” section. The comprehensive coverage of daily events could quickly make the website an indispensible resource for both individuals and other media sites following the Syrian conflict.
The site focuses on taking information from other news sites and social media sites and making it more digestible for the reader. Using a dashboard type interface, it offers users a quick look at the headlines for the day while also providing links to background coverage that gives context to current issues.
The homepage offers readers a chance to explore a multitude of media outlets all in a single place. About 25% of Syria Deeply’s content is original, the other 75% is populated from static material. For instance, the homepage displays links to news stories about Syria that headline that day and Tweets focused on the conflict.
Another area highlights stories from civilians personally experiencing the conflict. In a visually impressive portion of the homepage, an interactive map shows areas of high fatalities and refugees and exactly where trending videos are being filmed. One of the most original features on the site is the “defection tracker” that shows all the Syrian government officials and military members who have defected.
“Our goal is to build a better user experience of the story by adding context to content, using the latest digital tools of the day. Over time the hope is to add greater clarity, deeper understanding, and more sustained engagement to the global conversation,” the Syrian Deeply site says.
Lara Setrakian, the co-founder of the site, is a foreign correspondent who’s covered the Middle East and US foreign policy for the past five years, filing for ABC News, Bloomberg Television, the International Herald Tribune, and Monocle Magazine. In an article posted on Syria Deeply, she explains the reasoning behind the creation of the site.
“It was clear that the Syria story, a crisis unfolding into civil war, had become too complicated for people to understand. Why was it happening? Why was Assad killing his own people? Why was the international response so tame? The user experience of the story was abysmal: a lot of noise and competing narratives, not enough context, history, and background. The global news audience was underserved,” Setrakian says.
Setrakian’s efforts are already creating a buzz and Fast Company has written an article lauding Syria Deeply’s innovative take on reporting the news. But as Setrakian said, Syria Deeply was not created to revolutionize the news industry (although it just might), it was created “for people on both sides of the [Syrian] story: people around the world who want to better understand Syria, and people inside Syria who long to be better understood.”
For more information, please see:
Fast Company – Syria Deeply Outsmarts the news, Redefines Conflict Coverage – 3 Dec. 2012