In 2018, the first edition of the Assises internationales du journalisme in Tunis brought together nearly 800 journalists from the MENA region, Europe and Africa. It provided an opportunity to discuss and debate the needs and expectations in terms of support and partnerships for journalists in the southern Mediterranean countries.


For many journalists from North Africa, the Middle East and Sub-Saharian Africa, this major gathering generated a great deal of enthusiasm and hope. Despite the economic difficulties faced by many media outlets, against a backdrop of proliferating false information and mistrust of journalists, it appeared that a renewed media world was possible. Closer to the concerns of citizens, and better adapted to new ways of consuming information.


It was in the wake of this seminal event that the idea emerged of launching an initiative aimed at stimulating exchanges and discussions between journalists, donors and organizations supporting media development, with a view to thinking about and building tomorrow’s media world in the southern Mediterranean region. Thus was born the Sahafa Med program designed and implemented by Journalism & Citizenship.


At the time, no one could have imagined that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic would cause so much devastation and economic, political and social upheavals. And this impacted the media and journalists in many ways.

Closer to us, the attacks of October 7, 2023 and their consequences for the population of Gaza are a major geopolitical shock and a veritable blast for the media.


Since these attacks, more than 60 journalists have lost their lives in Gaza, and the media world is paying a very heavy price in fulfilling its duty to inform the public.


Informing opinion in the Arab region and the rest of the world about this conflict is indeed a major challenge, all the more so as manipulations of facts and false information abound, particularly on social media.


Sahafa Med’s initial aim was to open a dialogue with civil society in the southern Mediterranean region about its expectations in terms of information, and to promote support for freedom of expression and independent media as a priority on donors’ agendas in the region.


Today, after the COVID years and against a backdrop of major crisis in the Middle East, it seems that this dialogue between the media and the organizations supporting their development, in both the northern and southern Mediterranean, is even more important than it was in 2019 and 2020 when the Sahafa Med program  was conceived by Journalism & Citizenship.


Despite misunderstandings, obstacles and difficulties, Journalism & Citizenship will continue, through Sahafa Med, to pursue its initial objective over the coming months. For it is indeed through dialogue that new bases for cooperation can be devised in the service of journalists, in order to think and act together for building better media and regain the trust of citizens.


In this context, this first version of the on-going Sahafa Med study, completed in September 2023, provides  an overview of the situation of the media and journalism in the various countries of the region, with a view to identifying prospects and courses of action to promote and sustain, through independent media, free journalism at the service of society and the general interest. It also aims to improve the match between the needs of journalists and the programs proposed by donors and organizations in charge of media development.


Based on information gathered between 2021 and 2023 through a number of meetings (Assises in Tours, Brussels and Tunis, national and regional “consultations”, ad-hoc meetings, dozens of individual interviews, etc.), this study consists of a regional analysis of the situation of the media and journalism in the region, “country chapters” and recommendations aimed at sustaining and strengthening the effectiveness of support programs and projects implemented for the benefit of journalists in the southern Mediterranean region.


Over the coming months, these recommendations will be reviewed and adjusted. New dialogue platforms and consultations will be organized to take account of the current upheavals. And a new version of the Sahafa Med study, taking into account the recommandations collected in 2024, will be released early 2025.


Donor, media development organization?  If you would like to receive the complete study, please send us a request describing your organization and functions to [email protected].