Challenges Face Libya’s Nascent Independent Media

July 27, 2012
Trainings and assessments conducted by Internews reveal potential – and gaps – in local Libyan media

New content analysis of Libyan local media illustrates considerable gaps in the professional skills of Libya’s new journalists, while trainings conducted by Internews are contributing to the development of a cadre of Libyan journalists capable of producing high quality, independent, and professional media content.

In the first half of this year, Internews completed extensive television and radio content analysis, embedded media management experts and journalists at several independent Libyan media outlets, and conducted nine open trainings for all journalists in Tripoli and Benghazi.

The content analysis of television and radio programs suggest that local stations are relying heavily on official press releases and short news bulletins, and largely failing to tell in-depth or highly-relevant stories.

However, the journalism and management experts embedded with local media outlets and the open trainings for journalists in Libya’s main cities revealed the ability of Libya’s media to rapidly adapt new skills in reporting, production, and station management. For example:

  • A journalist trained by Internews took the initiative at a Benghazi news conference to introduce himself and ask questions of the UN Special Representative present, in order to produce a special news report from the event – all other journalists in attendance simply reported the press release provided.
  • Internews Resident Journalism Advisor Mohamed Asaker was embedded with Al Manara Radio in Benghazi, and noted significant changes in the station’s organization and planning as a result. “After a month of feedback, Al Manara Radio independently conducted a staff meeting for the first time ever to discuss strategic plans for the whole station. Now, they have assigned a new Director of News and distributed responsibilities to journalists,” he said, noting that the station’s confidence after the training led to the establishment of a new daily news program.  

Internews’ content analysis and trainings are a direct result of a media assessment mission in Libya during the height of the conflict in May-June 2011, followed by a second fact-finding mission in October 2011 shortly after the death of Qaddafi. 

The fall of Qaddafi brought an unprecedented wave of enthusiasm for independent media, with people of all professions rushing to establish outlets for journalism and free expression, as documented in Internews’ reports at the time. The local media remains exhilarated over the chance to report freely for the first time ever.  However, the mood has changed as journalists face the daily realities of building an independent media virtually from scratch. Turnover is high, both among reporters and senior management, and the sustainability of many media outlets that sprang up during the revolution is questionable. More long-term, in-depth training and mentoring, particularly through embedding journalism and management experts with fledgling outlets, can contribute significantly to the development of professional standards and a strong independent media in Libya.

More on Libya’s emerging media:

Internews’ content analysis and trainings were supported by USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives, through a grant from Chemonics. The content analysis reports may be made available upon request to info@internews.org.