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5 years of Syria coverage: a timeline

Doubova refugee reception center, courtesy of Nobel Women's Initiative

Today marks the anniversary of a conflict few thought would last this long. Despite recent coverage of a "cessation of hostilities" -- which is different than a cease-fire -- reader fatigue has set in with regards to a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and uprooted millions over the past five years. One year ago this week, on the conflict's fourth anniversary, Al Jazeera reported distressingly low traffic to its Syria-related content, a downward trend dating back to 2012. This trend, in turn, became a story itself.

As another round of conflict timeline posts circulate online, we thought we'd put together a different kind of timeline: a timeline of Syria coverage from 2011 to 2016 of the articles that Google News suggests are most relevant to readers. We thought this might help us get a bird's eye view of the Syria-related content that is getting read, and give us some insight into what readers are searching for when they are looking for coverage of this important conflict.

Here's what we found:

Year 1: March 15, 2011 to March 15, 2012

Not a lot of searches happening yet for news in Syria, but the conflict was still new.

Year 2: March 16, 2012 to March 15, 2013

Reporting -- and reader attention -- heat up.

Year 3: March 16, 2013 to March 15, 2014

Journalists, and readers, keep up the attention as the conflict worsens.

Year 4: March 16, 2014 to March 15, 2015

Still more conflict, but attention begins to wane.

Year 5: March 16 2015 to present

Five years of witnessing takes a toll.

Among other things, we were surprised at the relative diversity of outlets that popped among the "relevant" articles. But we weren't surprised by the lack of "relevant" articles on civil society, people's everyday lives, or grassroots peace-building. This is the kind of coverage we'd like to see moving forward: the human drama of peace-building, which often gets lost in coverage of conflict. What coverage would you like to see more of? Tell us about it in the comments.

About the Author

AREAS OF EXPERTISE: Communications research | Analytics | Social inequality. Beth leads AFSC’s messaging and opinion research, which she uses to develop evidence-based communications guidance for advocates and citizens to ‘change the narrative’ on war and violence. Prior to AFSC, Beth’s research and professional work focused on health inequality in the Americas.

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