Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media

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Group.png Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media
(Propaganda researchWebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media.png
The group's simple website design emphasises the devastation in Syria
FounderPiers Robinson
InterestsSyria/Propaganda, Integrity Initiative, Skripal Affair, Institute for Statecraft, White Helmets
Membership• Louis Allday
• Vanessa Beeley
• Oliver Boyd-Barrett
• T.J. Coles
• Philip Hammond (academic)
• Tim Hayward
• Divya Jha
• Michael Kobs
• Adam Larson
• Jake Mason
• Tara McCormack
• Paul McKeigue
• David Miller
• Jan Oberg
• Carmen Renieri
• Piers Robinson
• Simone Rudolphi
• Greg Simons
• Florian Zollmann
A group of UK academics that Piers Robinson convened due to a shared interest in Propaganda surrounding Syria

The Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media (SPM) is made up of academics and PhD students from a variety of UK universities. SPM was convened by Piers Robinson and is critical of the UK commercially-controlled media reporting about Syria, and has in turn been criticised by them.

Own words

The SPM website declares that:[1]

This working group aims to facilitate research and debate with respect to the 2011-present war in Syria and the role of both media and propaganda. In all wars, truth and reality are profoundly contested whilst media frequently struggle to maintain independence and autonomy in the face of propaganda strategies pursued by combatants and participants, both internal and external. The war in Syria is no exception. At present there exists an urgent need for rigorous academic analysis of media reporting of this war, the role that propaganda has played in terms of shaping perceptions of the conflict and how these relate to broader geo-strategic process within the ME region and beyond. With these needs in mind, this working group has been established in order to encourage networking amongst academics as well as the development of conference papers and panels, articles and research monographs, and the development of research funding bids. We also aim to provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers.

SPM is part of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies.[2][3]

Corporate media response

Front page of The Times on the morning US and UK forces were bombing in Syria.

Brian Whitaker, former Middle East editor of the Guardian wrote on 26 February 2018 that SPM (which then numbered three professors, two lecturers and three postgraduate researchers) seemed "more like a propaganda exercise than a serious academic project."

Two days later Jonathan Cook wrote in an article entitled The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions that Whitaker was "using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum."[4]

The Times wrote that the group was "spreading pro-Assad disinformation". Tim Hayward wrote that "a question thoughtful readers will likely be asking is why The Times has gone to the trouble it has to give such prominence to a small group of critical academics."

Integrity Initiative

Full article: Integrity Initiative

On 20 December 2019 Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson, all of the Working Group on Syria Propaganda and Media, published a "Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative".[5]

BBC's Road To Damascus

SPM's Vanessa Beeley and Piers Robinson are interviewed by Ross Ashcroft

Renegade Inc reports:

It is incredibly rare that the BBC ever admits that one of their reports on Douma in Syria failed to meet the Corporation's editorial standards for accuracy by reporting false claims…

Blink and you’d have missed this admission, but we didn’t, and it adds to a volley of misreporting that has dogged journalism and peace in the Middle East for decades.

Ross Ashcroft is joined by political scientist Dr Piers Robinson and journalist Vanessa Beeley to discuss the crumbling narrative around the alleged Douma chemical attack.

The YouTube video concludes:

"We contacted the OPCW, the BBC and Chloe Hadjimatheou about the issues raised in this programme.

"The BBC declined to comment.

"The OPCW did not respond.

"Chloe Hadjimatheou did not respond."[6]


Known members

8 of the 19 of the members already have pages here:

Vanessa BeeleyBritish investigative journalist focused on the Middle East. Helped expose the White Helmets.
Philip Hammond (academic)
Tim Hayward
Adam Larson
Paul McKeigue
David MillerFounder of Powerbase & Spinwatch and incisive reporter into the state of the world.
Piers Robinson
Jan ØbergDanish/Swedish peace researcher
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