World Press Freedom Day:
A Downgrading Press in Lebanon that Needs to Be Reformed
The International Catholic Union of the Press – Lebanon (UCIP-Lebanon) considered that the pioneering press in Lebanon was loosing ground in the Middle East region after it had carried for more than 150 years the torch of Renaissance that made it world-famous. In spite of diverse flaws caused by political and economic conditions, the press in Lebanon has been during the last three decades an example that was followed in regard to freedoms of thought, opinion and expression.
In order to stop this rapid deterioration, UCIP sees that it is necessary to launch a general reform that re-examines the infrastructure as well as legislative and union frameworks in both press and media. This reform process meet the requirements of the second digital revolution that is playing a crucial role socially and politically in the Arab region.
It becomes essential, in a globalized world, to examine media's frameworks and conditions. This examination process should be based on the following main points:
1- Reboost unions role in regard to media and telecommunications so that they include not only journalists and editors but also all the people working in these fields including audio-visual and Internet sections from editors to producers and documentarians as well as designers and managers, to name but a few.
2- Re-examine the role of the state and public institutions in media in order to establish a cooperation on the legislative level that includes unions, leagues, non-governmental organizations, universities and of course the National Media Council. In this regard, a differentiation should be made between state media and mass media that aims at informing the public opinion and preserving the freedoms of thought, opinion and expression. Therefore, many laws and conventional procedures concerning prerequisite permits and restricted privileges should be abolished because they go against the Lebanese constitution and international laws that Lebanon committed itself to respecting them. It is also essential to stop all political interventions that undermine media's work and sap national communication, a communication that is necessary for development, progress and peace.
3- Upgrade Lebanon ranking which is unfortunately very low in telecommunications (Internet, mobile phones and fixed phone lines). On the contrary, Lebanon is highly ranked for violent treatment of journalists. Indeed, many national and international media observatories have reported repeated maltreatment of journalists such as aggression, imprisonment and destruction of material. Officials must, without further delay, protect all people working in the media field and provide them with the right financial and social conditions in order to accomplish their missions, serving truth and public interest instead of ideological or political or commercial agendas that would negatively impact the society.
Media is not a public field anymore but a realm of free modern thinking. Thus, a structural reform of its role is a necessity.