It was in 2011 that the Media Diversity Institute (MDI) decided to engage with decision makers, media professionals and civil society in order to promote freedom of expression in Morocco. In the midst of the constitutional reform process which was then taking place in the country, the project launched by the MDI aimed to ensure that Moroccan media policies, legislation and practices enable and encourage diversity of voices and opinions.
Tailor-made training for journalists
The SDC has been offering its financial support to the initiative since 2013. By mid-2015, the project had given training in inclusive journalism to more than 60 journalists nationwide from the major radio stations, newspapers and online media. They all benefited from workshops that couple theory with practice. During the same period, MDI also organised public debates and round table discussions with the participation of key decision makers such as politicians and parliamentarians, officials and also academics and journalists. Some 82 civil society organisations have developed their digital media skills. and 8 have benefited from onsite consultancy.
Action Jeune pour Jeune (AJJ), for instance, is a partner organisation that has taken part in the project since its inception. “MDI training and on-site consultancy helped us to build our capacities to use media to reach authorities and main political and social actors in Morocco. We are now thinking about how to use social media in an intelligent way so that we attract more media to cover our events”, one of its activists commented. So far all AJJ’s campaigns in 2015 have been launched on their social media pages. The number of AJJ’s Facebook users has increased from around 13,000 to 26,000 since October 2013.
In addition to AJJ, another programme’s major beneficiary is the Association Jeunes sans Frontières (AJSF). AJSF has shown a huge amount of enthusiasm and drive and has come up with many ideas to put into practice some of the methods learned during the first two years of MDI training. It relies for instance on more citizen journalists in rural areas by using simple recording methods such as phones.
Media to become actor of change
Initiating a change of behaviour in the media is a long process and needs a multi-level approach that combines skills, policy frameworks and an enabling environment. By continuing to intervene at these different levels, this project will create the policy, management and professional environment for inclusive media to flourish and reflect the diversity of Moroccan society in what people read, watch and hear. The desired result in the medium and long term is for the Moroccan media to become an actor of change and an important platform for democratic discourse leading to greater tolerance, inclusion and social cohesion.