Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Aleppo: The Corporate Media Credibility Gap

Aleppo copy
“Less than four years ago, Aleppo was a prosperous and beautiful city. Christians and Muslims lived side by side, as did Sunni and Shia. A tolerant culture was sustained by a massive industrial centre. Aleppo’s dynamic business community had developed thousands of factories in the industrial suburb of Sheikh Najjar, which employed one million Aleppans.” Peter Oborne

Last week Peter Oborne became the first Western journalist to enter Aleppo following its relief by the Syrian Army. Since that day corporate media reports directly from Syria’s largest city have built up to become almost a trickle.

Gone are the times when the BBC’s John Simpson liberated Kabul single-handed. Nowadays, we are mostly fed the opinions of pre-programmed stenographers comfortably seated behind desks in London,Washington, Paris or Berlin. That might give a clue as to why the Aleppo Oborne reports on doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative of a city recently occupied by ‘moderate’ rebels that has dominated our daily news over the last few weeks.

“In a nearby room a man from a family of olive oil merchants told me that al-Nusra has murdered three of his brothers-in-law for alleged pro-government sympathies. One was beheaded, one was ripped to pieces after being tied between an electricity poll and a moving car. A fourth brother has been kidnapped and no one knows where he is.” Peter Oborne

For Oborne’s full account, published by Middle East Eye, click on: Journey to Aleppo: How the war ripped Syria’s biggest city apart

To judge from the few reports coming out of Syria from journalists actually on the ground it becomes increasingly obvious the Western corporate media is stretching readers’ credibility beyond breaking. The decreasing number of comments sections on contentious issues left open, often bulge with posters expressing utter disbelief. We can only surmise our leading media outlets are facing a crisis of credibility.

For The Guardian that crisis threatens to become terminal. But rather than face the unpalatable truth, the newspaper has decided to kill the messengers. By cutting back on articles allowing comments, and banning commentators who refuse to fall into line, the paper seems to be signing its own death warrant.

“And from the smashed village of al-Rabiaa – newly taken by the Syrian army from the retreating rebels of Jabhat al-Nusra – you can watch the shells exploding across the valley, a great curtain of blue smoke that ascends into the heavens just this side of the Turkish border.” Robert Fisk

The Independent’s Robert Fisk is the about the only other British journalist writing for a major news outlet to have reported from Aleppo. To read his eyewitness account of what is happening on the Syrian border with Turkey click onto: After entering Aleppo with Russia’s help, the Syrian army may set its sights on Raqqa

These reports are not secondhand accounts garnered from a man with a telephone stuck to his ear above a shop in Coventry, or bought from a self-styled weapons expert headquartered in a house in Leicester — both of which seem to pass for serious research in most newspapers nowadays — but are sights seen, and stories heard, by seasoned journalists, who risked their lives to get them. Oborne and Fisk still believe you have to be on the spot to discover the true picture. Having said that, it is important to point out that neither man could be labelled partisan, or an Assad sympathiser. Oborne could be accurately described as right wing while Fisk, despite being a war correspondent, is virulently anti-war.

What ought be a wake-up call to all Western news outlets with serious credibility deficits, including the supposedly-neutral BBC, is that the stories filed by Oborne and Fisk appear to confirm what Russia’s media has being saying all along.

“The children are no longer startled by bursts of gunfire. For them it’s a daily adventure, but it’s scary considering that the enemy is just across the wasteland crammed with burned out cars. The black al-Nusra flag waves from the top of a building three hundred meters away. The ends of the streets facing the block of ‘musalahins’ (gunmen in Arabic) are protected from snipers by huge tents.” Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin

Written by Alexander Kots and Dmitry Steshin, this last quote is from a report published — along with a video — by Russia’s largest circulation daily, Komsomolskaya Pravda.

For more of that report, including a video, click here: Aleppo Residents Back Assad: ‘We Don’t Need Help From Turkey’.

What is so striking about the four quotes employed here, is not so much how little they differ from each other, but how much they differ from the myriad reports we have become so used to seeing on our TV screens and reading in our newspapers.

They show how a dangerously irresponsible corporate media seems reluctant to fulfill its role as the pillar of democracy it has so long claimed to be.

As Turkey’s Recep Erdoğan hardens his resolve to drag NATO into a war from which no winners can possibly emerge, his threats to world stability, following the latest Ankara bombing, are being virtually ignored by the corporate media. To look at headlines featured on the latest Guardian on-line front page, at the time of writing, you could be forgiven for thinking a news blackout has been imposed.

Guardian front page

If we want to know the truth we have to look towards other sources. Russia Insider and Off-Guardian have both featured the Komsomolskaya Pravda story.

Bryan Hemming

Links to alternative views on the war in Syria in both the corporate and alternative media, which I h0pe to add to over the following days:

Thursday 25 Feb 2016 Once again, Fisk proves to be one  of the only Western journalists prepared to report from the front. This time he talks with Iranian Revolutionary Guards outside Aleppo:

Tuesday 23 Feb 2016 Robert Fisk reports from on the ground in Nubl and Zahra, two villages north-east of Aleppo, just relieved by Syrian and Iranian forces:

Sunday 21 Feb 2016 Robert Fisk travels the dangerous road from Damascus to Aleppo: Syrian civil war: On the road to Aleppo – where people have abandoned all in the shadow of Isis

Thursday February 18 2016The Boston Globe reports on how the corporate media misleads the public on Syria:

Tuesday 16 Feb 2016 Robert Fisk’s report from Damascus:

Vanessa Beeley’s excellent blog: thewallwillfall

Finian Cunningham reports on the duplicity of the West:

Eric Zeusse questions “Why Do Western ‘News’ Media Ignore Many Important News-Events?” on Washington’s Blog:


23 comments on “Aleppo: The Corporate Media Credibility Gap

  1. maynon2013
    February 27, 2016

    ‘England is helping Isis and an English reporter is here asking for information’.


  2. rangewriter
    February 20, 2016

    Thanks for providing a virtual short course on the real state of affairs. It is all so confusing. I have a day’s worth of reading to catch up on, now.


  3. Dina
    February 20, 2016

    Thank you for the great article, Bryan. As Martina said, you contribution to deliver the true facts behind the terrible war is precious and highly appreciated.


    • Bryan Hemming
      February 21, 2016

      It’s something that needs doing, Dina. Perhaps our thanks should go to Peter Oborne and Robert Fisk for making a journey in search of the truth, few others would dare. I know I wouldn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Martina Ramsauer
    February 20, 2016

    Thank you very much for your precious report about this terrible war. A moslem teacher seemes to have said: “When you are with God you fear no one.” There is probably no other hope!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Aleppo: A Post by Bryan Hemming | auntyuta

  6. Rhisiart Gwilym
    February 20, 2016

    Bryan, can I suggest that the way to see Peter Oborne, and to describe him too, is as an honourable, truth-committed, small-c-conservative English journalist – a genuine journalist rather than a corporate-media hack stenographer-to-power, as most of them are in the anglophone lamestream media now.

    BTW, I speak as a rabid radical dissident of pretty anarcho-eco-left history and natural inclination. But I can respect and make common cause with people like Peter, any day. The conservatively-inclined English journalist Peter Hitchens – brother of the much more slippery, US-power-serving Christopher – is also worth respect on the same grounds. It’s the honesty/honour thing that counts. Both Peters have it, I reckon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bryan Hemming
      February 21, 2016

      In this instance, I see Peter Oborne as a man daring enough to tread where others of his profession fear to go, but are more than brave enough to write about.

      Something we can all learn from.


  7. David Macilwain
    February 20, 2016

    Great stuff Bryan, and pleased to discover yet another person sharing the truth on the dirty war on Syria, as well as useful links to colleagues’ articles! (Vanessa B brought me here, via another new-to-me blog in Australia, which is a true corporate media watered desert.


    • Bryan Hemming
      February 20, 2016

      You’ve probably read some of my stuff on Off-Guardian and Russia Insider David, as both have published a few of my articles.

      Thanks a million for the thumbs up!


  8. Pingback: War Chronicle 20-February-2016 | Workers BushTelegraph

  9. auntyuta
    February 20, 2016

    You may like to have a look what the International Spiegel reports about “Possible Russia-Turkey Hostilities”:


  10. auntyuta
    February 19, 2016

    Bryan, thank you very much for this informative article. I like to reblog it!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. vanessa beeley
    February 19, 2016

    Great!!!! Was just thinking that someone needed to write that article today 🙂 Brilliant! Thank you

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bryan Hemming
      February 20, 2016

      It gives me extra pleasure to receive praise from someone doing so much good work to counter the corporate media propaganda on Syria. Thank you, too, Vanessa!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Nil
    February 19, 2016

    How accurately you describe what I see and hear every day as well… especially in the case of Turkey – as I can read the Turkish papers, preferably of different inclinations, when I hear the story on TV here in Belgium (BBC, CNN and the rest), I wonder sometimes if they are talking about the same country… Or sometimes, when someone is ‘breaking news’, some dark corners are scoured too, you get more detail (which usually surprises me) – then, the next time you hear about it, it has all been watered down to ‘palatable’ size… hmpf! Disgusting, really!…. :-/

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bryan Hemming
      February 20, 2016

      Turkey is a country I love. I was always treated very well on my travels throughout Anatolia during the 1980s, and made many friends. Erdoğan’s aggressive posturing does nothing but pile shame on his fellow countrymen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nil
        February 20, 2016

        It does! He has split the country in ‘us’ and ‘them’ – then created another ‘them’ to keep the ‘us’ in line… He is dragging the country into total disaster and chaos… It really hurts my heart :-/

        Liked by 1 person

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