I am a Libyan journalist: Rizk Faraj Rizk

August 11, 2017

The words of Rizk Faraj Rizk, freelance journalist working with the Libyan section of the website Mourassiloun ("Correspondents"), in Tobruk, Libya.

I am Rizk Faraj Rizk.

I think that, as time goes on, journalism is no longer thought of solely as a space in which we can connect with the world. I believe it is defined by terms such as responsibility, credibility, freedom, professionalism, respect for humanity and objectivity.

After about two decades of working in the field, I have a lot of stories that I think about every time I have a similar experience. Some of them bring back painful memories, others make me smile. Signing off an article in any newspaper used to fill me with joy.

I'd be over the moon, in seventh heaven!

In amidst censorship, repression, inaction caused by liberation policies dictated by national or international interests, and the politics of media funding, we find ourselves confronted by a huge challenge, in which our biggest enemy is temptation and our own lack of resolve. I am confident, however, that our profession is well grounded in its principles and customs. If I want to say, "I am a journalist", I must arm myself with the strengths I need to resist temptation.

I am a journalist. I am responsible.

I am a journalist. I do not participate in the conflict. I take no sides. I am not a policeman, or a spy. This does not mean I do not support the interests of my country. My responsibility is to participate in the social and political development of my society. I must also be aware of the ethics and codes of my profession. It is my responsibility to honour my trade and its conventions.

I am a journalist. I do not lie.

Lying banishes me from the ranks of journalists. A journalist does not lie. Credibility is a cornerstone of his trade. It is one of the fundamental principles that enable journalists to deserve the trust of a truth-seeking public. My watchword is, "The citizen has a right to know".

My opinions and my personal affiliations do not affect my ability to reveal the truth and communicate it to the public. Negative factors do not tempt me. Fanning the flames between rival factions and demonising opponents is of no interest to me.

I am a journalist. I am free.

Liberty consists in respecting others and their privacy. I am a journalist. Therefore I am free to practise my trade. I refuse categorically to stay mute or conceal my opinions. My freedom ends where my neighbour's begins. I do not violate the privacy of a human being, just as I tolerate no breaches of professional standards committed in the name of the media. I do not indulge in defamation for its own sake. Words that wound or ridicule are not part of my vocabulary. I have no predecessor in this field.

I am a journalist. I am a human being.

Humanity consists in sweeping away the outrages that hinder my profession, freeing myself from the temptations that prey on my professional conscience and upholding human principles despite the incitements to murder all around me.

I am a journalist. I am professional.

Professionalism means undertaking to respect the general rules of the profession, winning the trust of the public and being able to inspire them. Professionalism is to be present and remain on par with the competition. Professionalism is to resist the challenges of politics and personal affiliations that trap us into supporting one side against another.

I am a journalist. I am objective.

I am a journalist. Therefore I remain neutral when I report the news or tackle an issue. Objectivity means to be logical in my work, to allow neither additions nor omissions, to state the sources of quotations in complete impartiality and to be alert to the negative aspects of the side I belong to or which I prefer or support.

I am a journalist. This is what I am. I love my profession, it is a source of inspiration to me. I do not exploit media scandals to achieve fame. My weapon is my informed pen, which neither wounds nor ridicules. My enthusiasm and exhilaration always comes simply from seeing my name or my picture published in a newspaper, and my commitment is fired by my sense of responsibility. This sense of responsibility is founded on freedom of expression, which by nature demands objectivity. It stimulates sincerity and professionalism, and is crowned by the humanity that resides in us all and guides us throughout our lives.

I am a journalist. My mission is noble.

In order to sustain democratic debate in Libya, CFI launched Project Hiwar in early 2017 in partnership with the Crisis and Support Centre of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs. The project creates a forum for the expression of different points of view on the Libyan press.
One session made up of four workshops was arranged in Tunisia. It was attended by twelve Libyan journalists, who travelled from Libya, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia.

This article forms part of the booklet I am a Libyan journalist, which collects a variety of pieces written by the journalists involved in Project Hiwar.