Australia: War in the media sphere - lessons learned from Syria

The conflict in Syria continues to fuel one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world today. According to Pawel Krzysiek, ICRC Head of Communications in Syria, the conflict is being waged in the media sphere as well.

The media audience has been bombarded by a proliferation of information from sources whose authenticity and objectivity are questionable and whose information cannot be verified. The partisan nature of the coverage tends to polarize the media audience.

In addition, the "media cycle" has demanded a cumulative sensationalisation in its coverage of the conflict, making the drama of the coverage a priority over the humanitarian concerns of the situation. In this interview, Krzysiek warns that this phenomenon risks a gradual "collective numbness" to the actual human suffering in Syria.

The humanitarian plight, in conflict areas, is a key concern for the ICRC. Krzysiek explains that current media trends, evident in the Syrian conflict, have demanded innovative communications responses from organisations like the ICRC; not only to protect the truth and, thus, to protect aid workers, but also, as Krzysiek explains, to fulfill the "moral responsibility" to tell the stories of those affected by war.