The An Nahar building ravaged by the explosion of August 4, 2020. Photo credit: Francois el Bacha for Libnanews.com
The An Nahar building ravaged by the explosion of August 4, 2020. Photo credit: Francois el Bacha for Libnanews.com

Like every May 3, Le Monde celebrates World Press Freedom Day. In Lebanon, this freedom takes on a somewhat special character, not only because of threats against journalists but also because of the very fact that many local media – if not almost all of them – are not independent – contrary to what they sometimes claim with great blow of advertisements in order to ensure their financing – that it is in the televisual sphere, the written press or even online.

A few years ago, RSF, in collaboration with Skeyes, published a report on the links between the media and the political sphere . The result was a severe decline in a sector that was once the pride of a Lebanon considered a beacon of freedom in the East. It is clear that today the Land of Cedars is far from being.

“Key political groups but also clans of wealthy families benefit from a weak or dysfunctional legal framework reflecting a general laissez-faire attitude. They have managed to maintain and even extend their hold over public opinion throughout the dramatic events that have unfolded in and around our country over the past decades.“, then deplored this report in 2018, and rightly so.

Previously, several ways were ultimately put in place to control the media which ultimately failed to properly inform their various listeners of the real situation Lebanon is going through. It was often not necessary to see the looming crisis, to water and enslave the masses, to provoke tensions between supporters of such politicians against those of the opposite camp, not to unite but on the contrary to divide in order to better reign over each of them. .

Sometimes it was even enough to buy a few advertising spaces to change the tone of a particular medium, without even having to become a shareholder. they have become so “cheap”. They have also become so cheap that they often do not respect the legislation, especially in the field of copyright and are caught in flagrant fault, accuse others.

It should come as no surprise that year after year, Lebanon is retreating on this point, now over 100th place since 2019 .

To know how to appreciate the degree of freedom of a media, it suffices to wonder about its owners or shareholders, even about its advertisers who are all linked to politicians with a few exceptions. So how can you even criticize such and such a television or such a newspaper without seeing that on the other side, it is the same, or even worse. How not to note that some even take advantage of monopolies in specific segments such as in the French-speaking written press, to impose their thoughts to the detriment of diversity. In some countries, we forget the press to put an insert at the end of each article in case the subject or the author is linked to his shareholder. Unfortunately in Lebanon, these inserts, if imposed, would probably occupy up to 50% of the pages of some ducks.

The mission of a media is to promote a critical, Cartesian spirit, which must be the subject of discussion and debate and not feed into harmful dissensions. It must offer information, but let the reader digest it to form their own idea and not manipulate its readers. Everyone is free to have an opinion, but it should not be pre-chewed, pre-digested. This opinion must be forged independently with often the presentation of raw information without bias, by readers and listeners who form it by themselves, even if it means that they share it in a very democratic way sometimes even in the appropriate headings.

In Lebanon, unfortunately, we are witnessing day after day, month after month, year after year, no longer in freedom of the media but in mass manipulation with the opening of editorials in the television news which set the tone, by newspapers where the title often disagrees with the content, most people unfortunately stopping at the title without bothering to read the rest, by the bankruptcy of those who represented real freedom to the detriment of a press-system .

If the written, audiovisual, online press – with a few exceptions – had been ultimately honest, Lebanon would never have reached the crisis situation it is currently experiencing and the population would have mobilized much more. early to avoid the disaster we know today.

Reality would have imposed itself on people more quickly instead of having an extremely serious situation today. The main actors in the press were dishonest and, probably knowingly, did not describe the real situation of the country, day after day, month after month, year after year, financially already or even in the real world. functional plan, because they are all the same in one way or another, of this system – by their shareholders or their advertisers and sponsors – which they then protected.

Thus, if the media are in crisis today, it should also be concluded that there is also a part of the responsibility. They did not know how to evolve but above all to hear and echo the real will of a people tired by a situation which could no longer last because of their belonging to a system disconnected from reality.

Indeed, even when they presented themselves as in favor of the people, as being in solidarity in the face of the economic crisis or the deterioration of the social and economic situation, the reality was often the opposite with a carefully chosen editorial line, a manipulation of minds. against their opponents, notwithstanding, for example, the fact that demonstrations were even taking place in the regions of their political opponents for the same reasons. It was necessary to continue to divide and not to unite, to stir up hatred and not to converge together on the same national values, to avoid ultimately leading to change. They lacked sincerity.

The martyr in the end is not the journalist, it is the people, the one who is enslaved with this new weapon that is imposed on him.

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Expert économique, François el Bacha est l'un des membres fondateurs de Libnanews.com. Il a notamment travaillé pour des projets multiples, allant du secteur bancaire aux problèmes socio-économiques et plus spécifiquement en terme de diversité au sein des entreprises.