Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

Syria al-Shaab manages to broadcast under fire

Anthony De Rosa
Jun 11, 2012 23:25 UTC

Using a combination of in-studio anchors and citizens piped in from Skype reporting directly from the ground, Syria al-Shaab manages to broadcast 12 hours of live programming a day from a country that won’t allow foreign reporters in.

“They hacked into our Skype account about a week ago and sent a virus to all the contacts in it. Every time they do something like that, we know we are doing our jobs” said Summer Ajlouni, founder of Syria al-Shaab in a report by Dan Rather of HDNet.

The channel exists underground. The Syrian regime, according to the broadcasters, is watching, they’ve tried to shut down their satellite broadcasts and jam their Skype contacts, but it has only made the tiny outfit want to do more.

Ahman based Syria al-Shaab is bankrolled on the back of donations with a total of 15 people to run the entire network, in front and behind the camera. They rely on citizens for footage, which are taken with their cellphones and computer cameras.

The channel is seen by satellite and broadcasted online and shared across social media, by Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Anchor Qutaiba Al-Khatib left a job in the UAE to join the fledgling Syria al-Shaab because he believed in what they were doing.

Is this the end of Skype as we knew it?

Anthony De Rosa
May 10, 2011 17:03 UTC

The first time I used Skype I was in awe. The video quality, the effortlessness it allowed me to see and hear my family far away over my laptop computer screen was magic. It was even more magical when I tried it on my iPhone — a Dick Tracy moment. And it was more impressive than FaceTime because it allowed me to talk to anyone with Skype, not just with those who had an iPhone.

Today, Skype will likely begin to be lost in the maw that is Microsoft. Sure, Microsoft still remains one of the most valuable companies this country has ever produced but aside from the XBox, it hasn’t been on the leading edge of innovation in many years. Apple, Google and companies like Facebook and Twitter are seen at the forefront of the digital age. Microsoft, in comparison, seems like the once great star athlete, a Michael Jordan attempting to regain some glory by playing minor league baseball.

The best case scenario here is that Microsoft rolls Skype into a product like Kinect, which hasn’t quite taken the world by storm, and becomes a simple, easy to use videoconferencing device for the living room, that takes us beyond just hunching over our computers to interact with our friends who are far away.

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