Although journalists in Tunisia enjoy a relatively free media environment, the country's media sector still faces many challenges.
Tunisia's media sector has become more diverse since the country's revolution in 2011. Numerous private and state radio and television stations have been established, news and information websites are accessible and a large number of daily newspapers continue to be published. Although additional press freedoms were introduced in the 2014 constitution, journalists are often subjected to threats, physical attacks and arrests. Tunisia ranks 72nd on Reporters Without Borders' 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
Despite journalists' relative freedoms, the media still face numerous challenges. Journalists are poorly paid or at times not paid at all. False reports are quickly distributed and journalists frequently publish reports without verifying the facts. Most journalists avoid sensitive topics and little background or investigative reporting is done. Private media rely on advertising revenue but since advertisers focus mainly on a few stations and companies – especially in the radio sector – many media struggle financially. Tunisia's media environment is not supportive of quality journalism and journalism training is theory-based with few practical components.
DW Akademie's projects in Tunisia focus on citizens' free and comprehensive access to information, especially for young people outside Tunis, the capital. Together with its Tunisian partners Al Khatt (a media-oriented NGO), the radio stations Diwan FM, Radio Nefzawa and IFM, and the Université Centrale in Tunis, DW Akademie is establishing a decentralized training institute for higher quality journalism. Journalists will receive practice-oriented training as well as a certificate. A module-based curriculum is targeted at various groups ranging from local community reporters to professional journalists. The new low-threshold training approach will include concepts such as e-learning.
The MEDIA LOVES TECH initiative got underway in 2018 and links digital developments with journalism. Now in its second year, this start-up competition has an incubation program and focuses on digital solutions that promote quality journalism and new innovative, viable media concepts.
DW Akademie is also working with state youth centers in rural regions. A few clubs in each governorate are equipped with web radio or web TV studios which enable young people to learn more about youth-oriented media. The project's main focus is on media and information literacy for educators and youth workers and on promoting local journalism produced by young people.
As a member of a European media consortium ("Programme d’appui aux medias en Tunisie", EU-funded 2017-2020) DW Akademie is supporting the reform of Tunisia's state broadcaster and improving journalism training as well as the public authorities' communication with the public.
Together with its Tunisian partner Al Khatt and the Lebanese AL-JANA, an NGO, DW Akademie has developed the Shabab Live project. Funded by the European Union and the German Federal Foreign Office, it strengthens young people's participation, via the media, in issues relevant to society. In Tunisia and five other countries in North Africa and the Middle East young people are supported by local NGOs in producing content and formats that relate to topics they find important. Selected TV and radio stations are also creating youth-oriented formats.
In terms of public communication, DW Akademie's Media Training division is professionalizing institutes, ministries, public authorities and associations such as the Assemblée des représentants du people and the Instance de Lutte contre la Corruption.
Funding: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), German Federal Foreign Office (AA), European Union (EU)
Locations: Tunis, Kebili, Sfax
Main focus: Qualification, professional journalism, media viability, civic participation, participation of disadvantaged groups, community media, media and information literacy