Independent media on the Arab world

Meeting together for the first time in Marseilles in May 2016, eight independent media specialising in the Arab world drew up plans for regional co-operation. To this end they set up a network with the intention of collaborating on major topics and sharing their skills in order to deal with the challenges they have to face. Solidarity is this network’s guiding principle.

Most of the media belonging to this network are based in the Middle East or North Africa and each must cope with economic or political difficulties specific to its own country. Freedom of the press in that part of the world is constantly on the decline. In spite of an environment studded with obstacles, these media, most of which came into being after the 2011 Arab revolutions, have chosen the political and financial independence of the on-line press, free and accessible to all, with a progressive editorial policy.

In order to contribute to the development of these media, to their longevity and the organisation of a transnational reticular space, OrientXXI is taking part in this cooperative venture. Within this framework, and on the occasion of numerous Paris meetings, the members of the network have been able to implement various activities: shared thematic publications, journalist-in-residence programmes and training sessions.

Between 2018 and 2022 the latter have developed dossiers for publication, on subjects ranging from the water issue to that of the Arabic language by way of the tenth anniversary of the 2011 uprisings. The publishing activities are divided into several phases: meetings (in Paris, Tunis, Amman, Beirut and Algiers in particular) in order to expand one another’s knowledge and think about themes and angles of journalistic attack; on the spot investigations undertaken by the network’s journalists; on-line posting of thematic dossiers by all the media and finally a conference open to the general public. The publication of quality information handled from different viewpoints and available to all is the corner stone of this undertaking.

Training sessions for journalists have also been organised, with special attention to cooperation between members based in the global South: each member of the network has special capacities which it can transmit to another member. These range from publishing to investigative practices via the study of viable economic models.

To launch this project, OrientXXI received the financial support of the Agence française de développement (AFD), from La Fondation de France and from International Media Support. The project’s executive partners are Canal France International (CFI), Le Comité catholique contre la faim et pour le développement (CCFD — Terre solidaire) and L’Institut de recherche sur le Maghreb contemporain.

In April 2023, the project received new subsidies from the AFD and the Fondation de France to continue its activities and explore new forms of cooperation.

Medias in the Network

➞ 7iber is an on-line media created in Amman in 2007. This news website posts a new article every day in Arabic and one in English. It mostly covers current events in Jordan but hopes to extend its coverage to North Africa and the Middle East.

➞ Assafir Arabi began its activities as a weekly supplement of the Lebanese daily Assafir. It covers the Middle East and its editorial line is characterised by excellent articles on singular themes. Assafir Arabi publishes five new articles every week in Arabic and also offers a page in French and another in English.

BabelMed, pure player was born in 2001 and was the first on-line magazine dealing with Mediterranean cultures and societies. The site proposes multilingual contents with comparative viewpoints on themes affecting both shores of the Mediterranean such as migration, the civil society and independent creation, with special attention to gender issues.

Mada Masr is an Egyptian on-line media founded in 2013. It covers Egyptian current events in Arabic and English. The site has been blocked in Egypt but is accessible from abroad. It is one of the last independent media that has not been suspended by the Egyptian authorities.

Maghreb émergent and Radio M are Algerian media working together within the group Interface media. Maghreb émergent deals with economic and political news in Algeria and in the Maghreb. Radio M is the first general information webradio to treat economic, social, political and cultural news.

Mashalla News is an on-line media based in Beirut and founded in 2010. Its team is composed of four editors-in-chief. It has a broad network of contributors covering Iran and Turkey as well. This media also proposes innovative editing techniques.

Nawaat is a Tunisian blog, launched in 2004 and blocked until June 2011. It covers Tunisian current events with investigations on specific themes: democratic transition, transparency, justice, human rights. It is in French, Arabic and English.