Protest against repression of the press in Tunisia
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Hasan Mrad

Support to media in the most difficult region for journalists

Media viability

Independent media in the Southern Neighbourhood face significant challenges that effect their capacity to serve public interests, push back against the erosion of fundamental (media) freedoms, and counter polarising discourses and disinformation. Media freedom continues to decline and critical voices are increasingly repressed. The region is ranked as the most difficult and dangerous region in the world for journalists.

The media sector is ill-equipped to protect and defend itself against these growing threats. Varying journalistic standards and practices across the region make this worse, with most independent media in need of ongoing support to be able to produce media content that serves diverse public interests, within their own countries and across the region.

Free Press Unlimited, in collaboration with International Media Support (IMS) is implementing a programme called “Core Support for Independent Media in the Southern Neighbourhood” with the support of the European Union from 2021 to 2026. The main objective of this programme is to provide comprehensive tailored core support to media outlets and journalists to ensure pluralism, independence, and resilience of the media sector in the Southern Neighbourhood. The programme will focus on several MENA-states.

Improving capacity for more high-quality content

The programme aims to improve the sector’s capacity to produce verified, fact-based information. It is also aimed at helping these media reach diverse audiences, with media content that more effectively reflects the interests and needs of diverse groups. In general this means a focus on under-served groups, especially women and youth. This also contributes to the sector’s viablity, as these audiences have a significant (business) potential for the sector. In collaboration with local partners, Free Press Unlimited will launch an innovative fellowship programme for young journalists, designed to meet the need for more innovative media content and formats, along with new models for social media engagement.

Viability and resilience

Free Press Unlimited and its partner IMS will contribute to improving the business viability, resilience and safety of media outlets by strengthening inclusive editorial policies, developing workable business plans and income-generating models to contribute to greater financial sustainability. The role of Free Press Unlimited will be to provide digital security training, conduct digital security scans at media outlets, and organise regular mentoring and peer-to-peer exchanges on digital security trends and developments. In addition, Free Press Unlimited will grant small-scale funding for media innovations and interesting collaborations that are seeking to build a media outlet that serves local and often under-served audiences with independent quality information.

Strengthening regional networks

The programme will strengthen existing regional networks so they can more effectively find communities of practice, facilitate regional knowledge exchange, and better link this to global partners. Networking within the region helps with keeping knowledge in the region, which can contribute to a safer, more viable and resilient sector.


European Union




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