This month of June saw events from different national contexts that received international media coverage, and which reflected a step backward toward outdated conservative values.
Starting in the United States, where the Supreme Court overturned the historic Roe v. Wade decision which, since 1973, has provided federal protection for a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion; This decision was described by president Joe Biden as “outrageous behavior” while the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, declared that “the US is regrettably moving away from [its] progressive trend.” In France, the far-right party scored a historic success in legislative elections (89 seats compared to 8 in 2017), calling into doubt the republican values of equality and tolerance. In Argentina, the mayor of Buenos Aires has banned the use of inclusive Spanish language in the schools of the capital, a decision that generated a barrage of criticism. In Lebanon, the interior minister has called security forces to crack down on LGBTQ events during Pride month on the pretext that they run against the “society’s religious values” and would spread “sexual perversion”; Religious institutions (both Muslims and Christians), as well as leaders of reactionary political parties, have declared that they want to “fight against this phenomenon”.
Since the media contribute largely to establishing modes of thought, to shaping ideas and habits, the question that arises is: What role do media educators have in promoting progressive values among their students, where journalists and future journalists are invited to question the established system, to think outside the box and to broaden the horizon of ideas? If the press has traditionally been closely linked to the power, we cannot ignore that, since the 18th century, the press and journalists have also contributed to the great upheavals of moral values and sociopolitical ideas.
From a personal perspective, I always plead, during the entrance examinations to the faculty of information at Lebanese University, for the evaluation of candidates’ ideas and their critical thinking, and not only of their practical/technical and linguistic skills which are almost the sole hiring criteria for media institutions. I take this opportunity to relaunch the debate with my colleagues from the SUSI program for scholars.
How should we handle this world?