Panel Examines Libya's Media Future

Reflecting on December's session that produced the principles, Picard added "all we could do was present the choices that they were going to have to make and let them ask questions about how it would work in a Libyan culture and Libyan context."

Amel Jerary, a former press officer for Libyan's interim government, said the Doha conference could help the newly-formed Libyan government make those choices, but not until more immediate concerns are met. She described the 'good offices' process as "very useful in the sense that it served as a short-cut" for Libyans to learn how different systems work, and which do not work. If Libya adopts these lessons, the country will not "have to go through the process of things that have already proved unworkable," she said.

Jerary also commented on the importance of timing in the creation of a media system, noting that when the conference was originally convened, Libya did not have the capability to implement the principles.

"Before we had an elected assembly, we had stabilization issues, we had no electricity, no water ... You have to let it take it's time. When the time is right, Libyans will ask for what they need," said Jerary, who predicts that politicians will be overwhelmed with more tangible and basic concerns in the near term, even with a government now in place, and must be reminded of the importance of the Doha principles further in the future, as constitutional and legal structures are formed.

Panelist Joe Khalil, Associate Professor at NU-Q, expressed hope that Libya would make a priority of establishing a media system the serves the needs and desires of its people, noting that other countries in the region such as Lebanon and Iraq have missed their best window of opportunity to do so.

He said that the Doha "good offices" conference and others like it "equip local stakeholders with the tools to assess and develop their media system." The question now is whether and how Libya puts those tools to use.

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