Main findings from all individual evaluations:
ARA News is a unique news agency that specifically covers the region where ISIS is located. For this reason, all the chosen articles have a certain level of ambiguity since all of our stories take place in Syria, a country divided by a civil war that has been lasting for almost four years. The findings of this project indicate that the areas where ARA News operates are not being covered by many agencies, especially on a local level, because it is in a conflict zone. Next to that, international press agencies are not allowed to access Syria, which undoubtedly limits the degree to which information can be crosschecked with data from those international agencies.
During our evaluations, it has been noticed that the validation of sources was quite challenging for diverse reasons. Some articles depended on only one source and some included unreachable sources (such as authority, and anonymous sources for safety reasons). As the region is hard to access, the information that is extracted cannot be fully certified and verified as most sides have a stake in the conflict. Subsequently, certain witnesses report a situation depending on what they have experienced or merely heard.
The responses received from the journalists were convincing enough when you take into account the situations that occur in the area and how hard it is to report them. We agree with the journalists’ statements that people are at least entitled to know more or less what happened even if the information cannot be 100% verified or even if it came from only one witness. As far as the numbers are concerned, they are most likely not completely accurate but simultaneously are not misleading. They are, in our opinion, representative of the actual situation. The general impression was that the situation in Syria is an ongoing and unstable one, therefore the journalists had to depict it as precisely as possible. However, some journalists kept a reserved stance about the information mentioned in the articles and they emphasized that the information provided is according to the sources’ words. In general, through our observations it has become clear that there can never be a single, objective fact and that numbers are prone to change; however, when a journalist covers a situation as “universally” and informative as possible and relies on witnesses they trust, then this effort can be perceived as a decent attempt.