Sida to support our programme in Syria

Four years ago, Free Press Unlimited launched a new programme with a number of initiators from the Syrian media sector, in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The objective: to create an atmosphere of ethical conduct, collaboration and trust between journalists and media organisations from a country that is ravaged by war and lacks a solid tradition of independent journalism.

When we took stock of the results so far in late May 2016, we could be proud of our work, and of our partners. No fewer than 41 media organisations have signed the ‘Ethical Charter for Syrian Media’. This step has demonstrably improved their reporting in terms of reliability, impartiality and critical analysis – crucial for winning the trust of the population, both in Syria itself and in the country’s diaspora. We didn’t limit ourselves to promoting this Ethical Charter, however. Free Press Unlimited has also set up a dedicated research and service centre: Mawared. In addition, we supported the establishment of the new Syrian Journalists Association (over 300 members at the end of May 2016).

We can now significantly expand this programme thanks to Sida’s long-term financial support. We will continue to train and counsel the five media organisations and three media institutes that we had already partnered with. In addition, we will extend our support to five newspapers, radio stations and television stations and two new media institutes. Free Press Unlimited will not only offer trainings in basic journalism skills, but also in the effective management of a professional media enterprise. We will be supporting the media institutes in the development of a durable, independent media community. So that Syrian journalists and media organisations can continue to provide Syrian audiences with the unbiased, reliable and balanced information they so desperately require.

Other governments in Europe and further afield also support Free Press Unlimited’s work. In addition to Sida, our key foreign donors are the European Union and the United States Department of State. Of all the project proposals that we submitted to institutional donors in 2016, 41 percent was approved for funding. In concrete terms, Free Press Unlimited raised over € 18,5 million in funds in the year under review.