This photo from Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows bodies lying at a morgue in Houla on May 26.
AFP/Getty Images
This photo from Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows bodies lying at a morgue in Houla on May 26.

Story highlights

Shaam News Network or SNN helps distribute amateur videos from Syria

The information is increasingly important as it's difficult for journalists to report there

A photo credited to SNN came to represent Friday's massacre in Houla

108 people died in the massacre, according to reports

CNN —  

You’ve heard of CNN, but unless you pay close attention to photo and video credits on news sites, you’ve probably never heard of the Syrian group SNN.

The Shaam News Network is one of several groups that aggregates photos and videos taken by citizen journalists in Syria and tries to show them to the world.

Most recently, the group came into the news on Friday after it played a role in distributing images from a U.N.-condemned massacre in the village of Houla, which left 108 people dead, including some children who reportedly were axed to death.

YouTube, meanwhile, put a collection of 10 videos from Houla on its homepage on Saturday in an effort to raise awareness about the bloodshed there.

Of all the content, one particular photo – of a tile room lined with bodies wrapped in white cloth – became the de facto symbol of the violence in Houla. It has been run by numerous news websites, including this one, with credit attributed to Shaam News.

Photos: Images paint horrific scene in Houla

The photo and the group highlight a crucial trend as the government of Bashar al-Assad continues to crack down on protestors and rebels: Activists and everyday people have taken it upon themselves to record violence against themselves and their neighbors and to distribute it online. And they do so at great risk to themselves.

“Perhaps the single most important way that people are telling their stories is through clips uploaded through YouTube,” Ausama Monajed, a member of Syria’s opposition group, said during a recent talk at the Oslo Freedom Forum, according to a live blog of the event that was posted online. “And activist have learned that for this information to be credible, it must be properly dated and documented. And they are hoping that one day, these videos may be used to bring the regime to justice.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand times more.”

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