This film offers a unique insight into Al-Ikhbariyah, one of Syria's pro-regime TV channels in Damascus, meeting the reporters who are foot soldiers on the front line in the government's 'media war' against the outside world.
President Al-Assad is widely reviled for his brutal bombardment of civilians during Syria's 3 year civil war, but on state TV his forces are "heroes"
, and civilian casualties go unreported. Journalists here regularly receive death threats. Militants raided the station in June 2012; three journalists and four other workers were killed. The channel relocated but its new building was also bombed. The government clearly suspected an inside job as many staff were detained and questioned. One died in custody and another is missing.
Yara Saleh is one of the channel's rising stars. In August 2012 she was kidnapped by opposition troops for six days whilst reporting for the channel. "I crawled on the ground and pleaded",
she recalls. "I am the journalist, your problem is with me. Take me and leave them."
She says the Free Syrian Army forced her to wear the hijab before making her appear on the internet. She says forcing her to wear the veil has implications for every Syrian woman should they come to power. Al-Ikhbariyah immortalised the episode in an emotive docu-drama "Days with Death"
in which the FSA are styled as jihadis.
Presenter Ruba Hajali only sees her daughter once a week, as it's safer for her to stay in the village where Ruba was born. She also tows the government line: "Foreigners have no place at the negotiating table",
but does admit that she needs to be careful about what she says. Her husband Raed, also a producer for the channel, defends their lack of journalistic scrutiny: "We want to survive the crisis. Then we can open up the files and start asking questions"
For now government policy continues to go unchallenged on state TV and Syria's war looks set to continue over the airwaves.
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