Facilitating Consensus by Dr. Everette Dennis

We gather here today for a singular purpose: to discuss Libya’s media in the aftermath of a courageous revolution that removed a tyrant and his regime from power and set your country on a new course. We who are not Libyans here in the room approach the task before us at this conference humbly and with awe, and admiration for what you Libyans here present – and your countrymen and women back home – have already achieved. You played a vital role in bringing the story of Libya to world attention as you gave voice to the Libyan people and communicated the values of the revolution.


One of those values brings us here today – and that is freedom of expression and a free and independent media. We at Northwestern University in Qatar are honored to be your hosts for this “good offices” conference, in which we will offer a framework for discussion. We will consider the four great pillars of media freedom as a platform for you – your vision and views about what kind of media system Libya needs, deserves and wants. We are your hosts, but this is your conference.


Northwestern University in Qatar, in concert with our parent university in the United States and its two famed schools of journalism and communication, are pleased to be based here in the Middle East, where the awakening of the Arab spring has special resonance for us and our values in support of freedom of expression and an independent media. That is what we are committed to doing in our instruction, research, and service. It is those values that bring you and us together today.


Our job is to facilitate consensus from you, the conferees, on the overall goals, shape and purposes of your media system and policies. We are impartial about any and all views you might express, the debates that will emerge or the decisions, if any, you ultimately take.

We will frame a discussion and debate about matters of governance, the media economy and technological solutions, as well as education and training. We are aided in that task by three distinguished experts to whom we are grateful for their presence and involvement.


They are among the world’s most eminent experts in their respective fields and they have traveled far to be here to join in this conversation.


There is an old saying that posits that life is a conversation that begins before we arrive, continues while we are present and goes on for years after we have left the circle and passed from this earth. In convening this conference we acknowledge that we are already late to the table. You began the conversation we join today years ago, even before the revolution, but even more passionately and intensely since then. We are privileged to sit with you in this deliberation knowing that what is said here will continue well into the future as you and only you fashion a Media Vision for Libya.