At the moment of execution the rebels grasped his throat. The young man put up a struggle. Three or four rebels pinned him down. The man tried to protect his throat with his hands, which were still tied together. He tried to resist but they were stronger than he was and they cut his throat. They raised his head into the air. People waved their guns and cheered. Everyone was happy that the execution had gone ahead.
That scene in Syria, that moment, was like a scene from the Middle Ages, the kind of thing you read about in history books. The war in Syria has reached the point where a person can be mercilessly killed in front of hundreds of people—who enjoy the spectacle.
As a human being I would never have wished to see what I saw. But as a journalist I have a camera and a responsibility. I have a responsibility to share what I saw that day. That’s why I am making this statement and that’s why I took the photographs. I will close this chapter soon and try never to remember it.
TIME Lightbox, Witness to a Syrian Execution: “I Saw a Scene of Utter Cruelty”.
The perpetrators of atrocities themselves often use digital cameras or smartphones to photograph or film their acts of torture and murder, uploading the images to the Internet. These images and videos are used for propaganda, and their authenticity is often impossible to verify. It is very rare that a group of fighters from either side gives a professional photojournalist from a country outside Syria full and unfettered access to chronicle an atrocity as it unfolds. The images above are products of that access.
The photographer in the piece goes unnamed in order to protect him from repercussions when he returns to Syria. He reports that this was the fourth execution he had seen that day.
Laughing at those who read about Miley Cyrus is America’s second-favorite pastime, right after reading about Miley Cyrus.
New York Magazine, Final Tally: Americans Were 12 Times More Interested in Miley Cyrus Than Syria.
Background: Outbrain, the content discovery platform, crunched numbers across its network of publishers to compare reader interest in stories about Syria versus those about Miley Cyrus:
Globally, there were almost 2.5 times as many available stories on Syria as there were on Miley Cyrus. Yet consumption of those Miley stories outpaced Syria by a factor of 8-to-1. And in the United States? 12-to-1!
Before those outside the States start casting their serious news stones, take stock: “Interest in the starlet significantly outpaced Syria in England, Australia, France, Germany, and every other nation in Outbrain’s analysis — except Israel and Russia.”
We just happen to fetishize her a bit more.
Earlier this week, a friend asked me what the best way to get caught up with what’s going on in Syria is. I’m not a fan of most cable channels because they tend to make one feel compelled to have an opinion, jump in on the debate, or pass judgement before being fully informed. So here’s a reading round-up:
And then there’s Mother Jones’ guide to the debate, which is always an easy, and comprehensive read, the Washington Post’s 9 Questions About Syria You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask, and Children’s BBC, which, yes, is for children, but for those trying to catch up, helpful.
Diving Deeper/Interesting Tangential Thoughts:
If you want to spent some time digging into the past, present and future coverage on the issues, go to directly to Syria Deeply, and/or the NY Times Crisis in Syria page, from which some of the above links were selected.
As the deadliest country in the world for journalists right now, Syria provides an illustrative example of both the dangers that media professionals face in conflict zones and the importance of their roles in painting an accurate picture of the realities of the conflict on the ground.
Marie O’Reilly in her article “Protecting Journalists in Conflict Zones: Lessons from Syria" on Global Observatory discusses policies of journalist protection in conflict zones as well as the journalist’s difficulties of reporting accurately without that protection.
Related: The Revolution is Being Televised, a documentary following activists who document the activities in Syria.
Freelancers are second-class journalists—even if there are only freelancers here, in Syria, because this is a dirty war, a war of the last century; it’s trench warfare between rebels and loyalists who are so close that they scream at each other while they shoot each other. The first time on the frontline, you can’t believe it, with these bayonets you have seen only in history books. Today’s wars are drone wars, but here they fight meter by meter, street by street, and it’s fucking scary. Yet the editors back in Italy treat you like a kid; you get a front-page photo, and they say you were just lucky, in the right place at the right time. You get an exclusive story, like the one I wrote last September on Aleppo’s old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, burning as the rebels and Syrian army battled for control. I was the first foreign reporter to enter, and the editors say: “How can I justify that my staff writer wasn’t able to enter and you were?” I got this email from an editor about that story: “I’ll buy it, but I will publish it under my staff writer’s name.”
Francesca Borri, Columbia Journalism Review. Woman’s Work.
FJP: A fast-paced, fiercely heartfelt essay on the downsides to freelance work abroad and the madness of war.