”]A new report from international media watchdogs argues that for Tunisia’s democratic transition to succeed, the country needs a strong and independent press.
The International Freedom of Expression Exchange Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG) urged the interim government to eliminate censorship, promote media pluralism and develop standards for the press. The June 16th report was based on information collected during an April fact-finding mission to Tunisia.
“In stark contrast to previous missions, the IFEX-TMG delegation was able to meet and talk openly with civil society groups, human rights activists, journalists, bloggers and representatives from across the political spectrum.” said Virginie Jouan, representing the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
The group conducted more than 60 interviews with journalists, bloggers, civil society representatives and government officials, according to Ahmed Fathi of IFEX Tunisia. IFEX is an international collective of 21 media organisations founded in 2004 with the goal of monitoring freedom of expression.
Their latest study, “Scars of Oppression Run Deep in the Country’s Media”, stressed that Tunisia needs a strong and independent media in order to hold authorities accountable as the country transitions to democracy.
“Not much has changed,” according to one Press Institute professor. “There is resistance from remnants of the ousted regime. For example, the Supreme Authority for Media Reform has no specialised university graduates among its staff, which is strange and stands as a problem. However, the staleness of the press is no longer an option.”
A large number of Tunisian journalists complained of a resurgence of censorship. Meanwhile, the commission in charge of drafting a Press Code at the Revolution and Democratic Transition Protection Agency attempted to pass a law, the bulk of which is of a restraining nature.
Additionally, no new daily newspaper has been issued nor has a new TV channel or private radio station been launched since the revolution. Observers noted that most existing media outlets were owned by figures closely aligned with the ousted regime.
The media landscape cannot remain empty, according to Seham Bensedrine, a human rights activist. She said that in the absence of a new and alternative media, the same headlines appear and the same old people continue to run the game. She added that in the future and with the advent of new newspapers and media, only quality media will survive.
However, Mourad Salami, a journalist for Le Quotidien, said that the report was unidirectional and “as usual, all the problems have to be blamed on the regime,” as he put it.
“Why do you always contact the same people and adopt a single direction?” Salami wondered.
Riad Ferjany, however, thought the question was unjustified, as the report questioned more than 60 people.
Sourced from Magharebia.com
Written by Mona Yahia
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