Morocco World News
Marrakesh, May 21, 2013
This past week, the ruling party issued a very serious allegation claiming that the TV Channel 2M is working towards “undermining the economic security of the state. These hostile allegations emerged after 2M aired a report stating that the confidence of Moroccan businessmen and job creators with regards to the current economy is very low.
Free journalism is fundamental to a democracy due to it’s role in involving the public in the affairs of the government. Free journalism serves as a watch dog that keeps the politicians honest and reflects the mood of the society and its needs and demands .
The government should have no hand in controlling or blocking things from being published by the press, and that is why all true democracies insist on the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in their constitutions , starting with the United States’ First Amendment in 1787 . The British constitutional equivalent is the Unconditional Natural Individual Right drafted in 1688 ,and the French counterpart is the Declaration Française des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen of 1789 ,where it is mentioned that the “freedom of Speech and Opinions is one of the most precious rights.”
Yet Morocco still struggles with this issue in the 21st century and can not seem to make progress towards implementing similar advocacy for the press. In the latest Reporters Without Borders classification , Morocco was 136th in same bracket as Burundi, Ethiopia, Libya and Afghanistan.
Any hopes one had that the new government and the newly voted constitution would bring light at the end of this long dark tunnel was abruptly buried by the continued actions and words of Abdelilah Benkirane and his Minister of Communication.
The more alarming part is that 2M is actually a government controlled entity. The government appears to favour a return to the old days of “L3aam zine” , or “ the year is good” so popular in the Hassan 2 era , when everyone was stating in a quasi Orwellian fashion that everything was great.
The ruling government perceives the media and press as mere tools to regurgitate whatever “facts” they give them ,without any attempt to verify the veracity of these ”facts” and the stories that were handed to them. This has been the standard procedure for many critical subjects such as the Sahara, the army, the Monarchy, and now they want to add the state of the economy to the list.
This is based on a completely outdated concept from the 70s and the 80s , that follows five simple principles :
1) All instruments of mass communication should be mobilized to assist the government in nation building, fighting illiteracy and poverty, building a political consciousness and helping in economic development,
2) Media should support government, rather than challenge it,
3) Information flows from the top down,
4) Individual rights and other civil liberties are ranked low importance compared to larger problems of poverty, security, illiteracy, disease and ethnicity.
5) Each country has a right to restrict the flow of news between its borders as well as foreign journalists.
The fact of the matter is that these principles are without any merit in today’s society where you are simply not able to control the flow of the information entering your borders, thanks to social media, the internet, and satellite TV. All this will ultimately change the equation no doubt sooner rather than later –the only pieces missing are more courageous and honest journalists, investigators and reporters who are willing to stand up to the system and make the change happen.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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