Running for Cover: Politics, Justice & Media in the Syrian Conflict

Thursday, October 6, 2016, 9:00 am
Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3

On October 5th, 2016 the Newhouse Global Center for Global Engagement hosted their first event on campus: “Running for Cover: Politics, Justice and Media in the Syrian Conflict.” The day-long, live streamed event focused on accountability in the Syrian conflict, with dialogue between expert panelists from around the world leading the discussion. An empty chair also was available on the panel as an opportunity for audience members to join the conversation.

Professor Ken Harper commenced the event by addressing participants in the jam-packed Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, urging them, “Remember the humanity in our conversations today and respect them by having strong conversations in coming up with new ideas. It’s important. It’s out of respect. Everything that we’re doing today is out of respect for those suffering.”

While the panels each had a specific focus – the geopolitical situation in Syria, accountability for atrocity, the media’s role, social media in reporting war, and next steps – that respect for those suffering was at the heart of each conversation. Founding director of the Syrian Accountability Project and SU Law Professor David Crane encouraged audience members, “Keep reporting, keep seeking justice…At the end of the day, this is about human beings. There are things that you, in this room can do. Talk about this issue. Don’t forget Syria.”

David Crane, founding director, Syrian Accountability Project, College of Law, speaks during a panel on the "Accountability for Atrocity" as part of the "Running for Cover in the Syrian Conflict" symposium in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Photo by Tony D. Curtis.

David Crane, founding director, Syrian Accountability Project, College of Law, speaks during a panel on the “Accountability for Atrocity” as part of the “Running for Cover in the Syrian Conflict” symposium in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Photo by Tony D. Curtis.

Although the Syrian conflict, also stated by panelist Sherine Tadros as “humanitarian political crisis of our generation,” seemed insurmountable at times throughout discussion, panelists encouraged and urged attendees to take action ­– no matter how small. Andrew Beiter, education director of I Am Syria, observed, “The bad guys are collaborating, but so can we.” Bill Wiley, founder and director of Commission for International Justice and Accountability, added, “It takes time. It takes patience. We keep moving forward.”

Photojournalist Reza tries out the virtual reality (VR) headsets as part of the “Running for Cover in the Syrian Conflict” symposium in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Photo by Bryan Cereijo.

 

To add to the event conversation and create a fully immersive experience, three photo galleries capturing the horrors of the Syrian conflict, provided by Pictures of the Year International, Reza Visual Academy, and Ed Kashi, hung on the walls of the event space. Attendees also had the opportunity to view 360 videos, provided by The New York Times, ABC News and ROYT, virtually placing audience members in the shoes of the suffering.

At the close of the event, Professor Harper again reminded the audience, “Get up and go do something,” with Professor Crane adding, “You don’t have to go out and save the world. Any step forward is important.” “Running for Cover” garnered over 700 social media engagements across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram with the event’s hashtag, #SUSyria. Posts on social media reflected Professors Harper and Crane’s passion.

 

“The focus was raw and often difficult to hear,” said SU Chancellor Kent Syverud. “There were accounts of atrocities against children, of cities brought to rubble, of refugees with nowhere to go. Some of the world’s great and courageous journalists described the struggle to fully convey the horror in this changing era of digital media. The stories and images were a reminder of an unbearable reality—but the symposium raised that reality into the light. No one with a conscience could leave that auditorium unshaken. It was exactly what a great University is called to do.”

Sponsored by
Newhouse School Syracuse University

Featured Image
Refugees and migrants aboard a fishing boat piloted by smugglers reach the Greek island of Lesbos after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey. (Antonio Masiello / Zuma Press with Permission from POYi)  Pictures of the Year International is a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Logo design
Joe Quinn

#SUSyria - Anonymous social media instructions
One of the event goals is to engage participants remotely via social media, as many Syrian journalists and activists are unable to attend in person. Because of the conflict in the region, and the targeting of journalists, some may want to participate anonymously for greater personal security.

View Instructions

Panels

The Geopolitical Situation in Syria

Panelists addressed the historical context of the conflict and offered a critique of the political, military and humanitarian responses of the international community, including an assessment of where we stand now.

Panel Video

Panelists

Lamis Abdelaaty

Lamis Abdelaaty

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School

Learn more

Bassam al-Ahmad

Bassam al-Ahmad

Consultant, International Federation for Human Rights; Former Spokesperson, Violations Documentation Center in Syria

Learn more

William Banks

Founding Director, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, Syracuse University

Learn more

Mehrzad Boroujerdi

Chair, Political Science, Maxwell School

Learn more

Sherine Tadros

Representative and Head of New York (UN) Office, Amnesty International

Learn more


Accountability for Atrocity

This panel explored the various justice options available to the people of Syria and the surrounding region who are victims of the atrocities committed during the Syrian conflict, and the likelihood of those options being utilized by the international community.

Panel Video

Panelists

David Crane

David Crane

Founding Director, Syrian Accountability Project, Syracuse University College of Law

Learn more

Bill Wiley

Bill Wiley

Executive Director, Commission for International Justice and Accountability

Learn more

Radwan Ziadeh

Senior Analyst, Arab Center Washington DC; Founder and Director, Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies

Learn more


The Media's Role

A once well-funded international press corps has been depleted to the point where accurate reporting on one of the most complex conflicts of the 21st century is almost impossible. This panel looked at how the conflict has been reported and how reportage can be improved.

Panel Video

Panelists

Hub Brown

Associate Dean for Research, Creativity, International Initiatives and Diversity, Newhouse School

Learn more

Roy Gutman

Roy Gutman

Freelance Journalist; Former Foreign Editor and Correspondent, McClatchy and Newsday

Learn more

Ned Parker

Ned Parker

Reuters enterprise reporter; Former Edward R. Murrow fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

Learn more

Reza

Reza

Photojournalist, National Geographic; Founder, Ainaworld, Reza Visual Academy

Learn more

Sherine Tadros

Representative and Head of New York (UN) Office, Amnesty International

Learn more

Ben Taub

Ben Taub

Contributing Writer, newyorker.com

Learn more


Social Media in Reporting War

Social media has forever changed the way we report on and bear witness to conflict and atrocities. This panel explored the intersection of social justice and oppression. Is social media aiding transparency and accountability in Syria or is it a tool of oppression?

Panel Video

Panelists

Ammar Abdulhamid

Ammar Abdulhamid

Co-founder and President, Tharwa Foundation

Learn more

Andrew Beiter

Andrew Beiter

Education Director, I Am Syria

Learn more

Jennifer Grygiel

Jennifer Grygiel

Assistant Professor of Communications, Newhouse School

Learn more

Fadi Hussein

Fadi Hussein

Co-founder, IRT - Instant Reporting Team

Learn more


Next Steps

Now what? This panel discussed current and new initiatives from NGOs, media, governments and the academic community that address the complex challenges of the Syrian conflict, and outlined action items for moving forward.

Panel Video

Panelists

Andrew Beiter

Andrew Beiter

Education Director, I Am Syria

Learn more

David Crane

David Crane

Founding Director, Syrian Accountability Project, Syracuse University College of Law

Learn more

Roy Gutman

Roy Gutman

Freelance Journalist; Former Foreign Editor and Correspondent, McClatchy and Newsday

Learn more

Ken Harper

Director, Newhouse Center for Global Engagement, Newhouse School

Learn more

Elijah Shama

Elijah Shama

Student, Syracuse University; Founder, Reporters Without Borders Syracuse University Chapter

Learn more

Bill Wiley

Bill Wiley

Executive Director, Commission for International Justice and Accountability

Learn more