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Media Development

Mayada Shili, Tunisia

The radio journalist from Tunisia took part in DW Akademie's journalism training in Tunis.

 
Describe Tunisia's current media landscape following all the changes.

It's still in the midst of change and facing many challenges. Apart from transparency and proving professionalism, the media first and foremost have to regain the confidence of the people and make sure that media independence is guaranteed. It's a daily struggle and not an easy one, but I think we’re on the right track.

How did you experience the revolution?
It was an extraordinary time for me as a citizen. After years of silence the people spoke out and accomplished what the elite class had been unable to do: they overthrew the dictator. There was hope and there was relief, but it was also an extremely difficult period. We were afraid because we didn't know what the uprising would lead to. What we feared most was that people had perhaps sacrificed their lives for nothing. As a journalist, it was an extremely difficult time. The worst period, at least for me, was from January 10 -14, 2011 because my colleagues and I felt useless. There was bloodshed on the streets and we couldn't do anything. All that week I just played music, and all I could do was to make sure that the music spoke for itself. All my programs had been cancelled and taken off air.

What has changed for you in terms of your professional and personal life?
On a professional level I can say that I've blossomed. Before that it was just the opposite. I'd spent time studying at a renowned university, and even though I wasn't majoring in journalism I felt very attracted to the communication industry. That's why I chose to work in radio but I became more and more frustrated because I could see that it was leading nowhere. There was no perspective of change at all. Today I'm happy with my work, I feel useful, I'm doing real journalism, and the world is opening up to me. I've done lots of things in just two years - participating in international media conferences, attending workshops, conducting extensive ground research and I've even been a finalist for a prestigious journalism award. In my personal life I'm also very happy because my professional success is obviously a source of joy and motivates me to do better. I've got lots of plans and goals, and a great determination to succeed.

What issues do you cover?
All topics that interest Tunisian people in this difficult transitional period that we're currently going through. Today most Tunisian media are focusing on political issues.
 
How do you think the international media is covering Tunisian issues? What issues need more in-depth coverage?

Tunisia sparked the Arab Spring but it's also the country that's received the least coverage. It's true that Tunisia is comparatively well off but what's happening here is worrying, even though it's less severe than what's happening in Egypt, Syria or Libya. But we have to draw attention to certain threats to freedom and security rather than focusing on individual cases and amplifying problems that don't exist. And that happens sometimes.

What is the most important challenge facing journalists?
Defending a fundamental human right: freedom of the press.

What are you learning at the DW Akademie workshops?
Choosing topics and how to go about researching and producing them, how to go live on air, how to work with limited resources, and for me particularly: how to stay focused on a topic. I had a tendency to drop a subject if I didn't get a positive response. That's not the case anymore. I follow through and try to get by with the means I have at my disposal.

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