Despite the revolutionary transition, media are not fully transparent yet and still do not enjoy the best image in society. Illiteracy, lack of trust and the treatment of journalists by the authorities are all criteria that affect access to and image of media.
The illiteracy rate is still high with an average of 18.8%. Among women, it reaches 25%. This rate also varies by region and is higher in rural areas. Illiteracy is a barrier to access certain media outlets, particularly newspapers and online media.
Defamation and lack of trust
The revolution has brought some changes in terms of media diversity, but the propaganda system of the old regime has not vanished completely. The clientalist policy of the Ben Ali regime in the recruitment and education of journalists, the repression and censorship of independent journalists created a lack of professionalism among an important part of journalists. The only public institution to award a journalism degree is still the Institute of Press and Information Sciences, which was tightly controlled by the regime and lowered the level of journalism in Tunisia.
Some associations and unions seek to improve this lack of professional standards and ethics by encouraging vocational training courses. In 2011, the SNJT (National Union of Tunisian Journalists) in collaboration with other associations created a media analysis and monitoring tool.
While there is little media awareness among citizens, the lack of trust in media is significant. 80% of Tunisians believe that sources of personal information are more important than mediated information via radio, net or press. Only the TV has a more positive image. (See media consumption)
Content monitoring by HAICA
The HAICA started to analyse media content. It has analysed for example the distribution of television appearances by category (civil society, experts, politicians). MPs are those who have the most visibility on television.
The HAICA also analysed the presence of women in the political debate. Their interventions account only for 11% of total speaking time, regardless of the category to which they belong to, against 89% for men. This rate varies according to the topic: women are even less present in debates about the economy or the country's politics. Their speaking time does not exceed 8% when the debate focuses on security and terrorism, which is currently the most debated topic. This type of subject monopolizes the televised debate to the detriment of local and regional subjects.
The HAICA also monitors media debate during the election, to see if some political parties are favoured (see Political affiliations).
The treatment of journalists by authorities
Even if the attacks against journalists have decreased since 2012, there are still peaks of violence, particularly during certain events. The anti-terrorism discourse has an impact on the work of journalists, who are under pressure to disseminate certain kind of information on terrorism. After an attack on Mount Châambi, the Radio Nour and TV station Al Insen, considered extremists, were banned in 2014 (see politics).
M. Ben Hamadi (2014), Tunisie - Fermeture de médias: Mensonges et abus de pouvoir du gouvernement Jomâa?, Huffpost Maghreb
HAICA (2015), Présence des femmes dans le débat public télévisé tunisien
Huffpost (2015), La Tunisie découvre la difficulté d'informer face à la menace terroriste
INRIC (2012), Instance Nationale pour la Réforme de l’Information & de la Communication: Rapport Général
Institut National de la Statistique (2014), Recensement Général de la Population et de l'Habitat de 2014