Few countries in modern times have been in better position to assess and imagine the kind of media system they might encourage and create than Libya. Wracked by civil war after four decades of autocratic rule and a virtual meltdown of institutions and infrastructure, Libya has the dubious distinction of what could be a clean slate in seriously addressing the kind of news media and journalistic environment its people need, want and deserve.
Unlike other transitional societies such as Eastern and Central Europe after the fall of Communism, which had rigid and fixed media institutions of the previous regime, many of which were simply transferred over to new rulers, Libya has no such analogue. While it is true that there has been a flurry of new newspapers, websites and other media outlets across the country, they live in a society without consensus on the role and future of the news media, as well as other communications industries and outlets.
Virtually all independent outside observers will agree that the country has:
◆ No settled media law and regulation that define the relationship between government and media
◆ No agreement about the economic framework under which media can live and thrive
◆ No clear vision about the role of technology in providing platforms to support a viable media system
◆ No consensus on a philosophy and standards for professional journalism vis à vis social media messaging
◆ No clear model for journalism and media education and training
In the face of these deficits, Libya could have the will and wherewithal to imagine, envision and design a media system appropriate to the needs of its citizens, evolving institutions and society. Libya, through its governmental and media representatives and stakeholders, including the public, can create a Media Vision that accounts for existing enterprises and encourages new ones. Libya can take ownership of its media and define its role in the country, thus avoiding the experience of other nations in transitional societies that have seen their media bought up by outside commercial interests or taken over by the government. It was to this purpose that this Media Vision conference was dedicated.