|OVERVIEW OF THE LIBYA MEDIA WIKI |
The 17 February 2011 Revolution led to an explosion of new media all around Libya — an extraordinary development in a country which has had no independent press to speak of for more than 30 years. Since then, Libyan media has remained in constant motion: broadcasters, newspapers and magazines have launched and folded, decrees have been announced and rescinded, rules have been made and then broken. Keeping track of these changes is not easy. Although many organisations have published assessments of the press and of laws governing speech in Libya, they swiftly become out-dated. The Legatum Institute’s Libya Media Wiki at www.libyamediawiki.com is also an assessment, but one written on an open, collaborative platform. It has been created with the hope that users will continually update, correct, and add to the information presented on the website.
The Libya Media Wiki is intended to provide up-to-date information about the media in Libya: what laws and regulations are being issued, what outlets are being launched, where does their funding come from. We hope this information will be useful to international organisations working in Libya, to donor countries funding media development, and above all to Libyan journalists, broadcasters, publishers, bloggers and editors. In fact, it is vital for all Libyans to monitor closely the developments in their media landscape; the future of public debate, of open discussion and of free speech may well depend on it.
This is necessary, above all, because there is no guarantee that today’s freewheeling Libyan press will remain as open as it is today. In the early 1990s Russia also experienced an explosion of free press, much like Libya today. A decade later it had mostly disappeared. Libyans too must keep a close eye on the laws and regulations on press and speech that will be created in the coming months and years. Although many of the news outlets that mushroomed during the revolution are not financially sustainable, it is imperative that the country continues to hear a diversity of views.
For that reason too, Libyans must keep a close eye on ownership of the media—what is being launched, what is folding, and who is paying for all of it.
Many of the problems that plague the Libyan media are not unique in that country. The forces at play in the media sector mirror the opportunities and challenges in almost every other sector of society. For example: although none of the information on the Wiki is confidential, some of it was nevertheless very hard to obtain. In both the private and the public sectors people are reluctant to talk about their plans, their politics, and their funding. The Libya Media Wiki is thus also intended to challenge the endemic lack of transparency—a remnant of the old regime—that still prevails in
The Libya Media Wiki is a work in progress. In the weeks following the publication of this report, the Wiki will be open to the public for editing and updating. It will also be translated into Arabic. Eventually, it must be controlled by the Libyans themselves.