Media Revolution: How can free speech be liberated?

What was the media coverage of the election results like on both sides of the Mediterranean?

The first part of the discussion involved viewers and concerned the role of the media in the transition to democracy.

How can free speech be liberated after more than 20 years of censorship, self-censorship and intimidation?

How can we forget the past and break free from strong feelings of guilt to restore credibility?

How can the instinct for free press be rediscovered?

These questions were addressed in the studio by Samira MAHDAOUI, Editor in chief for Tunisian public television, together with a report by Votre Télé et Vous.

Following the pivotal role played by social networks in the early days of the Jasmin revolution, Tunisian journalists in turn, have sought to become stakeholders in the democratic debate. This is a crucial issue and a key challenge in view of the first free election for a new Tunisian constitution.

For his report Marieke Aucante met with:

– Olfa LAMLOUM, researcher at the Institut du Proche-Orient – specializing in Arab media and author of “Al-Jazira, miroir rebelle et ambigu du monde arabe” (Al-Jazira, a rebel and distorted reflection of the Arab world). Découvertes. 2004
– Yves BRUNEAU, Journalist, consultant for CFI
– Mathieu GUIDERE, Professor specializing in the Arab world at Université de Toulouse II. Author of “Le choc des révolutions arabes” (The impact of the Arab revolutions).
Broché, 2011.

Seen from France, the enthusiasm of the start of the year has been replaced by uncertainty, with some dramatic newspaper headlines such as: “Après le printemps arabe, l’automne islamiste” (After the Arab spring, the Islamic autumn), and much uncertainty shown by commentators.

Coverage of the elections in France 3 programs has not been heavily criticized by viewers. However, they have asked us to remain vigilant.

“Avoid quick judgments, relay information without any condemnation or speculation”

“Our view is too Western and we lack any points of reference. The Islamic parties support many views which are difficult to understand.”

“By issuing warnings there is perhaps a risk of dramatizing. You have given more importance to the demonstration against Nessma Tv after the broadcast of Persepolis than to the demonstration for freedom of speech”.

“The election result of Ennahda was not a surprise to the Tunisian community. The French press was confused and disappointed because it has an overly elitist and urban view of Tunisia”

“Journalists have adopted an alarmist tone which very probably reflects their surprise, and even their disappointment. This has resulted in sweeping statements and simplistic comments about the ongoing changes”

“The views expressed by a number of journalists regarding the Arab world are from a French perspective and are dominated by stereotypes and labels and have a lack of insight”

“When trying to interpret the election results, the situation in each country should be examined on a case by case basis, without ignoring the history of the country in question”

How can we avoid clichés in order to understand a complex reality? This question was the subject of a studio discussion with:

4 viewers

Jihène SAADI, Aeronautical engineer. Toulouse (31)
Leïla MADANI, Journalist. Epinay-sur-Seine (93)
Sarra BEN GDARA, Development Engineer PhD student. Grenoble (38)
Lazhar MENDIL, Electrical Engineer. Toulouse (31)

To respond to them:
Samira MAHDAOUI. Editor in chief – Télévision tunisienne 1
Gwenaëlle LENOIR. Special correspondent – France 3 National Editorial team
Hugues HUET. Special correspondent – France 3 National Editorial team


The discussion continued on the Internet, illustrated by 3 segments:

– An item by France 3 Provence-Alpes broadcast last May as part of a special program about Tunisia. This segment showed how the media revolution happened over the period of a few weeks.
– An item by Gwenaëlle LENOIR and Loïc LE MOIGNE, filmed in Egypt before the elections Inter-cut portraits of two young Egyptians who are engaged in the political battle.
– An interview with Mathieu GUIDERE on the concept of secularism.

We would like to point out that many viewers have written to us to show their support for Caroline SINZ and her team.

This additional internet coverage and the program in full are available on:

This edition of France 3’s editorial discussion program — VOTRE TELE et VOUS (Your Television and You) (N°61) — was  broadcast on December 13, 2011.

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