Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2013

Transitional Libyan Media: Free at Last?

Fatima el Issawi

May 2013

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


The Libyan media has transitioned from an extremely closed and manipulated sector to one that is more or less open following the country’s 2011 revolution. But, more than a year after the overthrow of the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s media sector is still lacking in vision. It is beset by diverse and complex problems, some stemming from the old regime and others mirroring challenges of the country’s current political transition. These problems make it difficult to pinpoint the start of the media recon - struction process. The national media, for decades used as a simple publisher of the regime’s politics, is becoming more of an unbiased provider of information. However, the obstacles facing this sector are huge. For years isolated from the experiences of their Arab and international counterparts, Libyan journalists’ skills are extremely poor. The state media that developed under Qaddafi is struggling to find its place in this new phase of Libyan history. Private media outlets are flourishing, but they suffer from weak structures, opaque funding, and a lack of regulatory frameworks. The widespread insecurity in post-Qaddafi Libya and the growing power of armed groups and militias are hindering the development of a professional and free national media industry and making field reporting and investigative journalism major challenges for local media professionals.