Tunisia: A Changing Media Scene- Script (en)

A film by Ghada Dhouadi, Mervet Chektmi and Soumaya Berjeb
Supervised by Dr. Hamida El Bour

Voice over: The Tunisian revolution of 2011 is considered to be both the inspiration for other revolutions that happened as part of the Arab spring and as the most successful revolution that has happened in any of the Arab countries. In 2011 wide spread protest led to the outing of the dictator Ben Ali which led to the country holding its first open multiparty elections. Not everything is this simple of course. Well, media freedoms increased substantially after the democratization. The situation that media workers in Tunisia face is complex. According to freedom house “Some journalists face pressure and intimidation from government officials in connection with their work. Reporters covering the security forces are particularly vulnerable to harassment and arrest. Moreover, it is difficult to obtain data about the ownership of media companies, their audiences, or the funding of public advertisement and press freedom advocates have expressed concern about significant political influence on a number of major media outlets.” Ahead of the 2019 election Tunisian journalists have expressed concerns about the influence over popular opinions. Journalists and bloggers are also targeted with insult. In April 2020 a Blogger was convicted of insulting a public official after posting a video where …has been affected with covid19 related food distribution effort. Journalists in Tunisia are still faced with many issues, ranging from their economic status, to their freedom to do their jobs without fear of retribution. Journalists in Tunisia often take the advantage of showing their discontent with the media climate in the country, an example of this are the protests that happened in November and December of 2020 also known as the week of anger, organized by the SNJT or the national union of Tunisian journalists. Their complains were focused on many issues, ranging from the basic security that journalists need in order to do their job without external pressure through their economic status all the way to the repression, that foreign correspondence often face in Tunisia.

Amine Ben Massoud: I have been taught in the master of investigative journalism since 2013. The establishment of a two-year Master’s degree in investigative journalism at the Institute of Press and News Sciences represents the first experience in the Arab world.

Hamida El Bour: We wanted to bring about this kind of press and advanced press production. The teaching of this competence in the press department was considered. We have been teaching the subject of investigative journalism for years, but the investigative press has looked at it in the sense that it is a press of accountability with distinction and reveals the imbalance and corruption in various levels of power. It enshrines access to information and the right of citizens to discover how to manage public affairs.

Mabrouka khdhir: Working as a freelance journalist, helps me to do investigations. I have conducted many investigations with different media. When you are a freelance journalist, this makes you publish your investigative articles to multiple parties. I have conducted investigations with ‘’Ankifada’’ and recently established with my colleagues and friends specializing in investigative journalism ‘’El Katiba’’ specialized in investigative journalism. I also produced and directed investigative films like Shobek Nafet (Windows of Oil), which won the first prize at the International Anti-Corruption Forum. This film is about environmental corruption of petroleum companies in the island of Qirqana
Working as a freelance journalist helps you to be more independent. There are difficulties because you are always looking at publishers that will accept your investigations, especially we in Tunisia are new in this field, but today there is a great development in investigative journalism. There is an academic approach at the Institute of press and sciences of communication , where I teach the subject of investigative journalism Tv, to put the building blocks of investigative journalism in Tunisia.

Najoua Hammemi: Tunisian journalist, investigative woman, differs from female journalist in all other mass media because she is exposed to dangers in the cases she addresses. There is strereotypical thinking about women journalists’ inability to enter the investigation field, but on the contrary, women have been able to enter and perform special field investigations. I am very proud of female investigative journalists because they have been able to present a new idea of Tunisian press women and distinguish themselves from other journalists in other mass media.
The female investigative journalist still has several challenges to prove herself and her ability to create a new, purposeful and positive media that presents a positive image of Tunisian press women.

Aymen Zaghdoudi: Decree No. 116 of 2011 about freedom of audiovisual communication is a rupture with the pre-revolution legal system and it contains many positive aspects in the media sector. First, It established an institute of regulation which is the Independent High Authority for Communication HAICA that is responsible for reforming the audiovisual landscape and guaranteeing the freedom, independence and diversity of the expanding media scene in Tunisia. The HAICA is a break in terms of institutional character because, prior to the revolution, it was the Ministry of Information that overcame and pressured the media sector in Tunisia for its political interests. It is made up of competent and impartial members who fulfill the conditions of neutrality while carrying out their duties in order to ensure the plurality of the audiovisual scene.
Second, the decree made a plurality in the audiovisual media, which brought a break with the situation that prevailed before the revolution, which witnessed a kind of openness through the dispatch of some private television and radio channels.

Hichem Snoussi: After 2011, a National Media reform HAICA was established to build a vision for media after the revolution. This vision spawned Decree 115, which we could call the Constitution of Freedom of expression and Decree 116, which establishes independent reform authority. This authority aims to be independent from the executive authority and has a political perception of the political life in Tunisia, meaning that there is a certain pluralism in the parties and a peaceful rotation of power, and therefore the mass media support of a democratic path in Tunisia.

Itidel majbri : The Tunisian Press Council is a self-amendment structure that was established in 2020, but that was preceded by a very long path in which journalists participated. It is like a court of honor that questions the journalists for violations of professional ethics according to the code of professional ethics.

Neji Bghouri: The Press Council, which aims to provide quality services to quality journalism, is launched as a self-adjusting mechanism.
Today, with much criticism of the performance of journalists and the media on the issue of the spread of fake news and the spread of umbrella news, in addition to the shaded relationship between the public and the media. The Press Council plays an essential role towards reconciliation between the public and between journalists, and accountability of journalists for any deviations that do not adhere to professional standards. The press council can also be a mechanism for arbitration when disputes arise between the public and the media.
Instead of passing this dispute to the courts, and instead of introducing journalists to the courts, the press council may play an important role for reconciliation, in the service of freedom of the media, and in the service of quality journalism.

Wajihwafi: The demands of representatives, as a whole, regarding the settlement of the status of our colleagues in the Tunisian News Agency / National TV / Tunisian Radio and the case of the media institutions (Al-Sabah Foundation / Dar Al-Zitouna / Al-Zaytouna Radio for the Holy Quran / Shems FM / Cactus Broad), which considers their situation disastrous.
Some institutions today are on the verge of bankruptcy. Also, the case of the unemployed graduates of the Institute of Journalism and Information Sciences and the necessity of their employment…

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