Huda Elserari sees media empowering Libyans through accurate information
TUNIS- Huda Elserari is a Libyan journalist, who is trying, through her Libyan Arabic language TV channel 218, to provide a new image of the media landscape in her country at the same time it keeps pace with the country’s unfolding developments.
Elserari is one of the first women in the region to have launched and managed a TV station. Despite the conflict raging in her native Libya, Elserari was able to get the station up and running quickly. She was selected by the Arabian Business magazine among the 30 most influential women in the Arab world.
She spoke with The Arab Weekly about her experience working in Libya’s media scene, expressing hope that the industry will overcome its old, monochromatic image and make a needed transition into pluralism and real competition. She sees Libyan media developing its content and meeting the demands of domestic and foreign audiences.
The Arab Weekly (TAW): With its various details, the Libyan scene is witnessing many important changes, both political and social. What is, in your view, the role of the media in keeping up with these changes, and in developing itself as a necessary part of the emerging new system?
Huda Elserari (HE): Though the media scene is relatively new in Libya, I believe it plays a vital role in capturing and giving substance to the developments that affect the Libyan people in every aspect, especially under the current circumstances. There is surely still much effort to be made to ensure the industry evolves to a professional state; away from ethnic, religious and tribal biases and onto a more objective level that does not confuse the viewer, but provides him with clarity to think for himself instead.
The industry also has a long way to go in terms of production quality and professionalism, namely due to a limitation in capabilities and resources under tremendous pressure due to accelerated pace of events and fast-progressing developments.
TAW: So far, the various foreign Libyan media outlets are still following a mentality of the past. However, sticking to the side of one specific party sometimes leads to fueling the conflict. The traditional media outlets may be diversified, but those operating from outside the borders seem to lack the ability to introduce the new Libya to foreign viewers or readers, both in the Arab region and Western countries.
HE: With the way our country is struggling, rather than fueling conflict, the role of media is to empower Libyans by providing them with accurate information through every single report so they may be able to formulate a sound opinion and perspective on current developments.We must not forget that the image and the information we share through our channels is not only reaching Libyans but also Arabs and foreigners around the world and it is our duty to ensure that we portray the positive attributes of our beautiful country as opposed to tarnishing it and positioning its people in a negative light. The Libyan people are some of the most educated, intellectual and cultured in the world and they deserve to be represented in that light.
TAW: Channel 218 appears to be different in its form and its marketing style. Can we consider this experience as a new beginning for Libyan media?
HE: In order for journalism and reporting to depict an accurate and balanced view of a development, it needs to be able to share all sides of the conflict, all perspectives and opinions. Showcasing a single view of any situation brings us back to a biased state, which does not genuinely represent the full picture – one that we owe to our viewers so that, as noted, they are provided with all the details to complete the picture of the issue at hand. This has been a fundamental aspect of our approach at 218 and is our only way to maintain an objective perspective on the unfolding stories we share with our viewers, not just in Libya but also around the world.