Tunis, 5 April 2015:
At the press conference held on Saturday by the Abdullah Thinni government at the cabinet office in the . . .[restrict]eastern city of Al-Beida, the Libyan government admitted that the ‘’enemy’’ it faces has a much superior media machine.
The only internationally recognized Libyan government representing the House of Representatives (HoR) said with regards to unsubstantiated accusations of corruption with public funds, it, the government, is currently working in exceptional circumstances in the present situation in Libya.
Moreover, it added that in addition to the difficult circumstances, the government is facing, it is facing ”an enemy that possess a media machine that is much superior to ours. They have higher skills and capabilities and are backed by huge budgets and international capabilities’’.
”This is what makes any talk of corruption under a (small) budget estimated at (only) LD 750 million in a state (the size of Libya) with all its needs (unlikely) and makes it impossible to think there is corruption, but the media is able to shape things as it wants’’.
The complaint by the government, like complaints by previous Thinni and Ali Zeidan governments are not new. In fact it is a common ploy by governments worldwide to blame the media for their misfortunes or inefficiencies.
However, sources close to the Thinni government have informed Libya Herald that attempts to help the Beida based government improve its media output qualitatively have met with indifference.
Libya Herald is aware that the services of top international media organizations were offered to the Thinni government, but that the government failed to take advantage of this offer.
The claim by the Thinni government that it is facing a superior GNC-Libya Dawn media machine is somewhat vacuous.
While the Thinni government has been forced into exile away from its huge Tripoli-based civil servant bureaucracy to the less than ideal small city of Al-Beida, which has no doubt weakened its performance, it is not devoid of media tools.
The Thinni government has appointed the roving Media and Culture secretary Omar Gweri, famed as a blogger, its own Facebook page and its own version of the LANA news agency to spread its message.
It also has its official Wataniya TV station as well as at least three allied TV stations in Zintan TV, the International Channel and the Amman-based Libya’s Channel.
While none of these channels may possess the capabilities of either the Al-Nabaa or the Aljazira channel, which are considered to be supporters of the Tripoli regime, Al-Arabia channel is also considered to support the Thinni regime.
Moreover, analysts have informed Libya Herald that the Thinni government can only blame itself for its poor media performance. The Thinni regime and Thinni himself are not natural media performers and Thinni has to be dragged into media appearances.
If the opposition media is superior in skills, the Thinni government must make up for their lack of skills by pure hard work. The defence that the opposition media ‘’is able to shape things as it wants’’ is a very poor defence by the government.
Despite the very challenging environment it is working in, it takes very little to craft and create a media message. The opposition is clearly engaged in a media war and the government needs to roll up its sleeves and fight back without making lame excuses.
The pro HoR and Thinni media should also be ‘’shaping things – the perception and political reality of Libya – as it wants’’. There is no finite space for the media to operate in and even the lowest commen denominator type of shallow media campaigns work. If they can work against the government – they can work for it.
The problem with the HoR and Thinni government is that they appear to the outsider to have no apparent proactive media strategy. In terms of media output, they do not know where they are, where they want to be and how to get there.
At best, they seem to be reactive, firefighting, reacting to rumours and misinformation – following and operating in and reacting to the media and news agenda created by others. They are always playing catchup chasing the news of the moment.
In reality and in the real politic that they find themselves in, they should be literally waking up earlier than their enemy every morning to set the media agenda. Establishing the media agenda of the day for the multiplicity of traditional and social media outlets – to occupy the media with – should be their daily homework.
The HoR-Thinni institutions should learn that the media space is competitive and that media has space to fill every single day – with facts or fiction and no matter whos news it is. They must learn to either fill the media and news space with their ‘’news’’ and their’’reality’’ and their ‘’facts’’, or their enemy will.
There is no space for good naïve incapable operators in the dirty cut and thrust of real politic. If the HoR-Thinni camp cannot stand the heat of the real politic kitchen – they should stop complaining and get out – and give someone else a chance to do the job. There is no place for well-meaning naïve operators in real politic.