Tunisia now needs a revolution of the media

From this point we need a new revolution – a revolution of the media, says Mongi Aouinet, co-ordinator of the Tunisian journalists’ union

I am half Tunisian and half French, raised in Alsace. I moved to Tunis just under three years ago, working for a French web agency.

Towards the beginning of 2011 as the troubles began, I was on holiday and I met a television producer who asked whether I would be interested in working for Sky24 alongside an Italian journalist. For me, this experience was a turning point, and, as we all now know, January came to be an incredibly significant moment for the country.

As the demonstrations grew, I worked closely with the journalist, Renato, interviewing people along Habib Bourguiba Avenue, Tunis’s broad boulevard of a main street, which has resonances of the Champs-Élysées in Paris. It was a thrilling, sometimes terrifying period. Some of my colleagues were beaten by the police. Many protestors died. On January 13, as the situation worsened, I decided to stay put at home with my family because all the shops had closed and it was not possible to buy any food. We stayed at home for three whole days waiting, glued to the television news.

On January 17, I went back to work and called my manager to tell him that I would be leaving the web agency to dedicate myself full-time to journalism. I sold my car and immediately started reporting on the extraordinary unfolding events. Four days later I was in the city of Sidi Bouzid doing an interview with Samia Bouazizi (the sister of Mohamed Bouazizi – whose self-immolation triggered the uprising in Tunisia, which in turn quickly engulfed the Arab world).

Since then I have continued my work, compiling and publishing more than 70 video reports to YouTube and Dailymotion (which have received upwards of 100,000 views so far) and taken over 10,000 photos. In May I launched my own website: webreportertunisie, where I published an interview in September with Nejiba Hamrouni, the President of The Tunisian journalists’ union. This proved to be fortuitous again as after the interview she told me that the union was looking for an international co-ordinator – a role I took up just two months later.
To succeed, the union will have to develop into a strong organisation, comprised of professional journalists. This is where The Journalism Foundation comes in, and we are looking forward to working alongside them. From this point we need a new revolution – a revolution of the media.

Mongi Aouinet is co-ordinator of the Tunisian journalists’ union. Visit his website. And watch his video channel

To find out more about The Journalism Foundation’s project in Tunisia click here

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