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Although journalists in Tunisia enjoy a relatively free media environment, the country's media sector still faces many challenges.
Since the country's revolution in 2011,Tunisia's media sector has become more diverse. There are now numerous private and state radio and television stations, news and information websites and a large number of daily newspapers. The 2014 constitution significantly increased press freedom and after years of delay, a press council was established in September 2020. Nevertheless, journalists have often been subjected to repeated threats and violent attacks. Part of the civil population is now ready to use violence at public gatherings and sees media professionals as a threat. However, enforcement officers cannot provide media workers with adequate protection. In a concerted effort in April 2020, Tunisian NGOs averted government regulation plans for the media.
Tunisia currently ranks 73nd on Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index. Despite a relatively free press, journalists continue to face numerous challenges. They are poorly paid and at times not paid at all. False reports spread quickly. Journalists avoid sensitive topics and do little background or investigative reporting. Private media rely on advertising revenue but because advertisers focus mainly on a few stations and companies – particularly those in the radio sector – many media are struggling financially. Tunisia's media environment is not very suitable for promoting quality journalism, and journalism training continues to focus on theory.
DW Akademie's projects in Tunisia focus on citizens' free and comprehensive access to information, especially for the rural population. Together with its Tunisian partners – the media NGO Al Khatt, the radio stations Diwan FM, Radio Nefzawa and IFM, and the Université Centrale in Tunis – DW Akademie is establishing a decentralized training institute for quality journalism.
Journalists will receive practice-oriented training and a certificate. The module-based curriculum is targeted at various groups ranging from local community reporters to professional journalists. The new low-threshold training approach includes e-learning, which has proven particularly useful during the coronavirus pandemic.
TheMEDIA LOVES TECH initiative got underway in 2018 and combines digital developments and journalism. The annual start-up competition includes an incubation program and focuses on digital solutions that promote quality journalism and innovative, viable media concepts. Originally for Tunisian teams, the competition opened up in 2020 to include teams from Algeria and Morocco.
As part of "Transparency in Communities", a project funded by Germany's Federal Foreign Office, DW Akademie is working with Al Bawsala, a Tunisian watchdog and NGO. They are working with six local radio stations to professionalize reporting on the municipal budgets. Within the country's decentralization program, the project also focuses on local community representatives: DW Akademie is training mayors as well as press officers on communicating with the public.
As part of a European consortium ("Programme d'apui aux médias en Tunisie II" that runs from 2021 – 2026 and is funded by the EU), DW Akademie is supporting digital innovation in the media and also developing new business models together with private and citizen media. In addition, DW Akademie offers communication training for Tunisian public authorities and also conducts journalism training.
Together with its Tunisian partner Al Khatt and the Lebanese non-governmental organization Al-JANA, DW Akademie has also developed and runs the program Shabab Live. Funded by the EU and Germany's Federal Foreign Office the project, through the media, strengthens young Tunisians' participation in socially relevant issues.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), German Federal Foreign Office (AA), European Union (EU)
Locations: Tunis, Kebili, Sfax, Tataouine, Kasserine, Nabeul, El Kef and other locations
Focus: Qualification, media viability, civic participation, decentralization