The press in Tunisia continues to stagnate under the nine-year-old presidency of Zine Abdine Ben Ali. Despite the existence of privately owned newspapers, few journalists dare to report news that might antagonize the government, for fear of reprisal. By and large, the practice of self-censorship has become institutionalized within the journalistic profession. Over the past two years, local and foreign correspondents have learned that being critical of the government in their reporting could easily get them dismissed from their jobs or earn them a one-way ticket out of the country. The private press is further squeezed by its reliance on advertising revenue from state-owned companies.
Despite the passive nature of the media, the ministry of information reviews all newspapers, particularly foreign ones, in order to weed out undesirable news and ensure total compliance with the government mandate for acceptable journalism. Among the casualties of state censorship were the French-language newspapers Le Monde and Liberacion. Authorities banned more than 60 issues of Le Monde alone during the course of the year.
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