Robert Fisk delivered the inaugural Journalism Foundation lecture in Tunis last week as part of the foundation’s week-long project in Tunisia. The veteran and controversial Middle East correspondent was critical of Britain’s relationship with Bahrain, and of George Bush’s foreign policy. Fisk said that he was concerned there would never be a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, because it is “not viable” and the Israeli settlements are too well established
The audience in the Africa Hotel were enthusiastic about the talk. For many Tunisians, the chance to see the Independent journalist in the flesh was enough in itself, one elderly lawyer said he had waited 30 years for the moment and it was a “holy experience”. Also in the audience was Evgeny Lebedev, The Journalism Foundation’s Chairman of the Trustees and proprietor of The Independent and The Evening Standard.
The lecture brought to a close The Journalism Foundation’s first project – a media training course for Tunisian journalists entitled Reporting in a Democracy.
The course was developed in consultation with media representatives from across Tunisia. Two groups of twenty students from around the country attended seminars in English, French, and Arabic with lectures in political reporting, business and economy, citizen journalism, and social media. The courses were devised and run by lecturers from the journalism department at City University in London.
Many students recognise that although press freedoms have improved significantly since the uprising of 2011, the media in Tunisia continues to face significant challenges. Already students from the course have set up their own Facebook group to discuss issues arising from the course. Adnan Chaouachi, a radio journalist and media advisor said that the course had been a valuable experience: “It comes at the right time for us, and we have learnt a lot about journalism”. Other students agreed that the course had contributed to the new culture of freedom of debate that has been born in the wake of the uprising in 2011.
The full text of Robert Fisk’s lecture will be available on our website shortly. To find out more about The Journalism Foundation’s project in Tunisia click here
Video by Tunisia Live