This blog's main topics are the political situation in Tunisia and all the activities surrounding the election of the Constituent Assembly that was held on October 23rd 2011. You will also find interviews and discussions that I conducted with politicians and bloggers from the Revolution. All this from a Canadian perspective in Tunis.
mardi 8 novembre 2011
Tunisia-live.net, the media reference in Tunisia
In Tunisia, before January 2011, media was greatly
influenced by the dictatorship. Whether it was television, radio, newspapers or
the Internet, everyone was under surveillance and dissidence wasn’t tolerated.
Things are different now and the media is gradually adapting to the new
situation, but much still has to be done to overcome the population’s
scepticism. However, not all media outlets existed before the dictatorship. Indeed,
soon after the uprising that brought about Ben Ali’s departure, new sources of
An English website called Tunisia-live.net was
created in March 2011 by three young Tunisian graduates of American universities. It might appear surprising since English is
the third most popular language in Tunisia and only a small minority of
citizens speak it fluently.
Zied Mhirsi, co-founder of Tunisia-live.net.
But for Zied Mhirsi, co-founder of the online paper,
“there is a niche market for news about Tunisia in English since few reliable media
groups offer it”. He also considers it an excellent way to offer Tunisia more
visibility internationally. As he mentioned when met at his office located at
Berges du Lac 2 in Tunis, “today, English is the language of business and communications
in the world. Therefore publishing in English is a very good way of making
Tunisia better known and contributing to its development”.
The journal’s exploits
In the beginning, the project all started with M.
Mhirsi and his two colleagues Ramla Jaber and Youssef Gaigi. The three
co-founders, who gained more notoriety during the Revolution, have very
impressive résumés. Ms. Jaber worked for international channels such as CBS and
CNN, and also held a direction position in an NGO of the United Nations in New
York. As for Mr. Gaigi, recipient of a Fulbright scholarship, he is the Tunis
producer of Al Jazeera International News since January 2011. Holding a MBA
from Boston University, he founded in 2003 a student exchange program between
the U.S. and the Arab world.
Mr. Mhirsi, a medical doctor and host of a weekly
radio show on Express FM, a well-known station in Tunisia, published one of the
most popular blogs in the country for more than six years. Following the
January 2011 uprising, he collaborated with CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera English and
other influential media stations in addition to being interviewed on the
celebrated 60 Minutes television show
presented on CBS in which he discussed the role played by social networks in
the Revolution and the future of Tunisia (Mr. Mhirsi’s intervention begins at
Tunisia-live.net stands out among its competitors in
numerous ways. The staff is young (under 35) and dynamic, and the quality of
the articles and the videospublished is greater than the vast majority, if not all the country’s
media. This is demonstrated by Google’s decision to associate themselves with
them during the past electoral campaign by launching a special network on
YouTube called Tunisia Talks,
a similar concept than the one used the 2008 American presidential election
where candidates were invited to answer questions from the public.
Also worth mentioning is that from October 23rd,
day of the election, to the 27th, Tunisia-live.net offered an
exceptional live coverage of the results of the voting from the Independent
High Authority for the Elections’ (ISIE) press center. No other online media
presented such complete and punctual coverage.
The future of Tunisia-live.net
Allan Bradley, Editor-in-Chief of
In their offices, one can feel the high energy level
generated by the young journalists. Between the reports and interviews they
conduct in the field, they gather around a few tables with their laptops and
work side-by-side 12 hours a day to write their articles. Having mostly studied
abroad, certain members of the team have won prestigious academic scholarships.
In addition, the Editor-in-Chief, Allan Bradley,
graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a BA in history.
With the precarious economic situation in Tunisia, the
Internet journal doesn’t have considerable financial means. The principal
source of revenue comes from «fixing» services offered to major media outlets
from around the world. More precisely, when other media come to Tunisia,
Tunisia-live.net employees help them obtain the media accreditation passes,
find hotels and transportation, guarantee their security and provide them with
technical equipment if necessary.
Tunisia-live.net is one of the rare Tunisian media
outlets that doesn’t benefit from private investment or sponsorship. Management
is aware that «fixing» revenues will dry up eventually now that the election
has occurred and that most major news correspondents have left the country. “In
the coming months we will work hard at finding sponsors. With
Tunisia-live.net’s potential and its talented group of journalists, we’re
confident we will succeed”, stated Mr. Mhirsi, visibly proud of the company he
With so many assets, it is safe to bet that the website
has what it takes to reach its goals and impose itself even more as a leader in
Tunisian media for years to come. Assuredly, if it continues publishing at such
a high level of journalistic excellence, there is no reason to doubt that it will keep growing not only in Tunisia
but also internationally.