The Doha Centre for Media Freedom interviewed a group of journalists, students and NTC officials. Here, they share their vision for their country's media.
Iman Omran Bizadah, Libya Association for Free Media: Media in Libya might be unconvincing in its performance, limited in its coverage and constrained by a vulnerable viewer base. Even the very concept of media could be still unclear and misunderstood in the country.
This doesn’t mean, though, that there are no talented media professionals in Libya. As a matter of fact, there are talents, but these need to be polished.
The most important question, then, is “how to develop a true media in Libya?”
What I mean by “true media” is that media has to stick to the ethics of transparency and professionalism and go out of its way to be credible and inclusive.
This goes hand in hand with guarantying the rights and protection of journalists while making sure they stick to media ethics.
In order to have true media in Libya we will have to identify the problems gripping it. Some of the outstanding problems include the equivocal concept itself, lack of media academic experts at schools and absence of modern media technology in the country.
In order to sort out these problems we need to come up with a methodology which includes the following points:
Raising awareness about media, its concept and its different kinds; setting up a center for training and parenting talents; holding training courses on media technology and finally drawing upon international expertise in providing proper training for journalists.
Reda Fhelboom, Libyan journalist: What the Libyans need above anything else right now is to have channels which respect ethics of transparency and professionalism and serve to enable people across the board and from all over the country to participate in the social and political life. They need to have TV stations which raise awareness among people about their basic rights which are stipulated in all world constitutions and conventions.
In Libya after the revolution, channels should be rid of managers who monopolize the right to decide on the issues that matter for coverage and who run these institutions as if they are their own private property.
Freedom of media means that transparency should be upheld. It also means reporting on truths, exposing mistakes and trying to correct them.
As such, media freedom has to be practiced in line with regulations in order to punish wrongdoing and those who endanger national unity through incitement on killing, retribution and appeals to tribal unrest.
November 17 revolution was not against one individual or family but was meant to undermine an entire system which had its own ideology and autocratic way of governance.
Repression in Libya became complete when utter disregard for the opinion of the other became the rule and when life was reduced to one opinion, one style of thinking and one political hue. The only way to go to dig ourselves out of this situation is to free civil society by freeing media.
Mahmoud el Gaed, student: Almost everyone in Libya is talking about the poor quality and lack of expertise in both public and private media. Yet it’s not clear whether this applies to Arabic speaking media only or it extends to include media in other languages in the country as well.
Media in Berber language is a good example of low quality reporting in languages other than Arabic. As a matter of fact, Berber language and culture have been sidelined and excluded from media not only in Libya but also all over the Maghreb region of North Africa.
Serious media reporting in Berber language started only few years ago in Morocco and Algeria. In Libya things moved at a much slower pace and Berber language had to wait until the outbreak of the revolution of 17 November to be part of the overall media scene emerging now in the country.
In the context of the new media freedoms, more and more print and broadcast journalism is seeing light in Berber language. Currently, there are channels which run shows in Berber language and have hours of news broadcast in it.
Yet there is still a long way to go because of the many challenges facing broadcasting in Berber language. These challenges include lack of resources, expertise and training, to name just a few.
Like in Morocco, Berber-speaking media should be encouraged in Libya and the government should support it through exchange of expertise with previous similar experience in Berber languages. The government also has to provide assistance to Berber media and give it the resources and the training it needs to develop.
Nader Sharif and Khaled Badawi, Libyan journalists: media prospects in the newly freed Libya are not bright. Our personal experiences as journalists and the general state of media, in post-Gaddafi Libya, are bleak due to the grim realities gripping journalism in the country.
I [Nader Abdelhadi Sharif] had worked as a reporter for several Libya channels, my current life as a journalist vary from disappointed, broke to homeless and unemployed. To compound the situation further, my complains are of lack of regulations that protect journalists and their rights, which makes it difficult for journalists to enjoy the guarantees they need to carry out their work.
Khaled Nase Addin Badawi, a former reporter at Libya channel, says there are no real TV channels in Libya due to established and wide-ranging practices like marginalizing professional journalists and refraining from reporting on the news that matters.
Badawi’s views on the ills of media in Libya have also a personal note to them when he complains about lack of career prospects and the fact that his job is taking away from him instead of adding to him.
Sharif and Badawi do not only share the same views about their own uncertain future and the dismal media state in Libya but also share the same personal sacrifice to their country.
Both journalists say they quit Gaddafi’s media industry when the revolution started months back.
Abdulmonaem Almograbi, member of the Executive Office of Media Affairs: We are fully aware of Libyans' fears and ambitions in what regard media sector. We also realize the challenges lying ahead. This is a normal situation given the current circumstances. All fears are justified as people do not want to repeat the previous experience.
The current phase is very critical after the fall of the regime and its institutions, but we are working very hard to ensure everyone that there will be no go back to old regime practices and our objective is to serve the highest interest of Libya and to collectively regulate the sector based on clarity, credibility and equality. We are open to all suggestions and call on all media workers to help us with their suggestions and opinions.
We at the executive committee in charge of media sector are intensively working on a working plan to regulate the sector. Our plan will be debated by all active players in the sector before presenting it to the NTC for approval.
We are also ready to cooperate with international media rights organizations and facilitate their mission by enabling them to avoid being selective and make sure that their services are beneficial to different media outlets and workers.