A new kind of journalism or who used chemicals in Syria?

A new kind of journalism or who used chemicals in Syria?

It has been a never-ending debate as to who used chemical gas on civilians in Syria. While the government agreed to destroy all the chemical stockpiles under the U.N. supervision, it is highly suspected that the rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad also possessed such weapons.

The use of such weapons would spark a global outrage, which would reach to the level of sending U.S.-led international troops to Syria.

The scenario above was a hot issue in the late days of summer when the Damascus regime allegedly used chemical weapons on its people in in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta. The international community led by the United States swiftly reacted to the claims that the Damascus government carried out chemical attacks on the civilians before the calls for a war ebbed amid a deal with Iran.

The debate over the usage of chemical weapons in Syria has been rekindled by a controversial report penned by highly respected investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who has said that the U.S.
administration might have omitted the real facts about the chemical attacks in Syria to justify a military operation on the country. In his article, Hersh also hinted at the possibility that the chemical attack in Ghouta might have been staged by the Syrian rebels fighting against the al-Assad regime.

Hersh’s article on the use of chemical weapons in Syria has created a controversy, which was expected, and a slandering campaign against him has been started, mainly over the argument that he had difficulty finding somewhere to publish his article. One way or another, Hersh managed to publish his article in the London Review of Books and his article was followed by online counter-reports, which were carried by “i-reporters” who supposedly symbolized the new kind of journalism that challenges the traditional one.

Challenging the well-sourced traditional report of Hersh, the new i-reporters used the online video contents that the chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime forces on civilians. In a war-ridden country an independent report is hardly verified, the methodology of online journalism would bear fruitful results but countering Hersh’s report with online videos appeared weak considering the huge impact of the event. Furthermore, there have been many online contents allegedly taken in Syria showing the brutality of the regime forces, which later proved to be recorded somewhere else years ago.

The conflict between the traditional and new media has not been limited to Hersh’s article on Syria. Many news corporations are seeking ways to keep up with the unstoppable rise of the new media and even bridging hybrid models to do so. Also, journalists now called “conventional” even put their main tasks behind at traditional news organizations in order to become online celebrities. But the question is: at what cost?

 Should we return to the main topic, if Hersh claimed that the chemical attacks in Syria had been staged by the “villain” Syrian forces, does his report create such a controversy? Or, if his article had called for an international intervention on Syria, would there be i-reporters calling for a crusade against him?