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4th Arab Free Press Forum

What Lies Ahead for the Independent Arab Press

As leaders throughout the Middle East and North Africa have been securing their hold on power or making sure it remains in the family, the independent press continues its work, despite repressive government policies and economic hardships.

Those in power are not shy to resort to harassment, censorship, prosecution, fining and imprisonment of news media professionals in order to control information and their hostility toward independent and opposition media has often proven to be ruthless.
Thus, the determination of independent news publishers and journalists to carry on writing, publishing and advocating a free press, and to develop their news organisations in challenging local markets and in times that are demanding for the press industry the world across, is remarkable.

Yet what are the prospects for the Arab independent press to fully play its role as a counter-weight to power and an opponent to the abuse of power? Can it investigate, challenge and provoke within the current political environment? Can it report critically and hold those in power to account if both its management and finances cannot resist pressure and if the judiciary only plays by the leaders' rules?

Those are among the questions that will be addressed at the 4th Arab Free Press Forum.