How U.S. Networks Are Covering Syria

Journalists and activists seen near a U.N vehicle in Damascus on August 28.
Journalists and activists seen near a U.N vehicle in Damascus on August 28.
 

With the Obama administration considering a limited strike on Syria, U.S. networks are plotting out coverage for any action that may unfold over the next several days. While Washington, D.C., bureau correspondents are focused on covering political maneuvering in the capital, inside Syria itself, U.S. reporters for broadcast and cable outlets are scarce.

CNN correspondent Frederik Pleitgen was one of the few reporters who had been filing from Damascus. However, his visa expired and he's now based in Beirut covering developments in Syria, a network spokesperson confirmed. "Just left #syria. No visa extension. Hope to be back soon," Pleitgen stated Wednesday on Twitter. 

NBC News' chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, currently on the Turkish-Syrian border, had entered the country earlier in the week to report for the network, as had ITV News' Bill Neely. Engel had interviewed The Wall Street Journal's Sam Dagher, one of the print journalists reporting in the country (Dagher was listed as a contributor reporting in Damascus on the Journal's lead Syria story on Aug. 30.). 

STORY: Final Member of NBC News Crew Out of Syria 

CBS News' Elizabeth Palmer, who had been in contact with U.N. chemical inspectors, reported from the capital on Friday. "I can hear the artillery now as I sit in the studio, it's been going on all morning," she said in a video dispatch. CBS stated that Palmer was the only U.S. broadcast correspondent reporting from inside Syria on Aug. 30.

"It's a major effort that we are engaged in, it's a high priority for us," said Christopher Isham, Washington bureau chief for CBS News, on the network's unfolding coverage. "We believe that Syria is an extremely important story, both strategically and from a humanitarian point of view."

BBC Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen provided coverage from Damascus for ABC News. "Damascus having a quiet Friday apart from the drum beat of shells from regime batteries," Bowen wrote on Twitter. 

An Al Jazeera America rep says the network is looking to get a correspondent into Syria as the situation unfolds and may include reports drawn from Al Jazeera English.

Outside of the country, correspondents from U.S. networks based in Beirut, Jerusalem, Antakya, Turkey, and bureaus across the Middle East are providing coverage for studios based in D.C. and New York. 

In Beirut, ABC News has chief foreign correspondent Terry Moran and Middle East correspondent Alexander Marquardt reporting from a newly opened bureau. Al Jazeera America has David Jackson and Robert Ray reporting from the capital of Lebanon. CBS News' Clarissa Ward, NBC News' Ayman Mohyeldin as well as CNN's Arwa Damon and Mohammed Jamjoom are covering Syria from Beirut bureaus. 

Among those reporting from Jerusalem are Fox News' correspondents Leland Vittert and Conor Powell as well as ABC News' Molly Hunter, CNN's Jim Clancy and AJAM's Jonathan Betz.

E-mail: Erik.Hayden@THR.com
Twitter: @Erik_Hayden

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