Doha forum discusses Libya media framework

December 11, 2011

Representatives of Libya’s post-revolution government and media and Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) are discussing the role of media and a new regulatory framework at a conference in Doha.

The session ‘Media Vision for Libya: A ‘Good Offices’ is part of a conference convened by NU-Q in an unprecedented co-operation between a university and a country to envision a new national media system.

The two-day conference on Saturday and Sunday offers a platform for the delegates to discuss the role of media in Libya and to inform the creation of a new regulatory framework in Libya, a top priority for the National Transitional Council (NTC), the university said in a statement.

The conference is being conducted within a ‘good offices’ framework, making NU-Q act as an impartial third party in organizing the conference and facilitating the discussion by chairing the forum, offering expertise and mediating debates, while refraining from advocating any policy position.

NU-Q Dean and CEO Dr. Everette E. Dennis who serves as Chair of the conference had proposed that the university offer impartial support as the Libyans grapple with enormous problems in the face of the virtual meltdown of institutions and infrastructure, following the ouster of Muammar Qadaffi, and offered the conference as a forum for the Libyan representatives.

Libyan NTC Vice Chairman Abdulhafeedh Ghoga has accepted the invitation to serve as co-chair of the conference and head the Libyan delegation.

The Libyan delegation includes Salem Gnan, NTC member for Nalut, in addition to leading figures from academia, media, government, journalism, local councils and legal organizations.

The delegation members, active figures in the revolution, represent a diversity of Libyan regions and society.

The conference will provide a forum that will discuss the pillars of any media system – governance, media economy, technological change education and training.

Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Al Arabi attended the opening session and gave keynote remarks.

In a number of sessions throughout the two-day conference, the delegates will hear impartial assessments presented to them by experts in each of the pillars.

After each presentation the delegates are invited to discuss these points in an open environment that fosters comment, analysis and discussion in the hopes of reaching an initial consensus.

Dennis worked with organizations involved in supporting press freedom in post-communist Eastern Europe, and hopes that experience will offer insight into the Libyan process.

He said that there are not many occasions in history when states have been able to build their media infrastructure with a clean slate.

“We are extremely pleased to be supporting and facilitating the self-determination of a Libyan media system at this crucial moment in history,” Dennis said at the start of the conference.

“While there are nearly a dozen international media support groups on the ground in Libya, most engage in basic training of journalists, broadcasters and other media personnel – a vital step in creating an independent media, but not one that fashions the fundamental kind of changes that create media policy, engage the economy and plan for a technological infrastructure,” he said, quoted by Qatar News Agency (QNA).

Experts offering their insights into building a new media system for Libya include leading media economist Dr. Robert Picard, Director of Research at the Reuters Institute, Oxford University, technology policy expert Dr. Robert Pepper, Head of Government Affairs at Cisco Systems and Joyce Barnathan, President of International Centre for Journalists.

In his keynote address, Al Arabi said he had observed that “an independent media system and freedom of expression is essential to the legitimacy of a modern nation”.

Northwestern University in Qatar aims to be a player in the Middle East by expressing its commitment to freedom of expression and independent media.

“This conference provides a chance for us to put our values into action by connecting the yield of research evidence and experience to framing practical problems,” Dennis said. “Our role is one of genuine collaboration where knowledge and experience can be shared and applied to the unique cultural and social contexts of the region. We are agnostic about what solutions the Libyans determine work best for them. We are the hosts, but this is the Libyans’ conference.”

The first day of the conference was devoted to governance models, the state of Libyan media and media economy and technologies. The second day is for subjects revolving around education, training and human capital.

The conference key findings will be expanded in a report to be published in early next year.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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