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Bettermann: "People in the Arab world need reliable information from abroad"

DW's Director General, Erik Bettermann calls for support for the Arab world's reform process in a lasting way: "People there need reliable information from abroad - today more than ever."

DW’s Director General Erik Bettermann used World Press Freedom Day on May 3 to highlight the current situation in the Arab world: “No one could expect that one year after the Arab Spring began, ideological indoctrination and press censorship could be overcome in favor of an open exchange of ideas and media freedom.” He went on to say that former state-controlled broadcasters are undergoing reforms and the media landscape in Arab countries has already started to change, “However, media organizations there are still far from being independently organized and geared to pluralistic reporting.”

“International broadcasters like Deutsche Welle must look closely at these developments and follow them critically,” Bettermann continued. DW took a major step in this direction by significantly expanding its Arabic television programming in February.“ We give people from Tunisia to Bahrain an important source of complementary information. We are accompanying the changes constructively and critically as a partner in dialogue.”

Erik Bettermann

Erik Bettermann

DW's Director General noted the example of a joint TV production with the Egyptian TV broadcaster Al-Hayat. "Shababtalk" brings young people from Germany and Egypt together to discuss current issues. The talk show regularly reaches up to 16 percent of the urban population in Egypt.

The strong interest of Arab audiences in German and European perspectives and in exchange of different opinions across cultural boundaries is reflected in the rapid increase in fans of DW’s Arabic Facebook page. DW's online platforms like Qantara.de also offer bloggers and Internet activists in the region a forum for discussion.

Bettermann said that developing an unbiased and professional media system represents an important challenge in the Arab world.“ Many journalists are showing an enormous amount of courage, and they could use our support.” The DW Akademie is making the region a focal point by offering training programs for media professionals in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and beyond.“ That allows us to share our professional standards and journalistic ethics,” Bettermann said, emphasizing that feedback from participants shows that they want to take advantage of the new opportunities presented.

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