One of Youcef Ferhi’s earliest childhood memories is of his mother, who unusually for the time could read and write, reading the newspaper Alger Républicain to his father, who was illiterate. Upon independence in 1962, Youcef returned to Algeria from Tunisia, where he had been working in a National Liberation Front (FLN) rehabilitation centre for injured soldiers. He tells the story of how with limited means, a handful of people and accelerated training, the Algerian press began to emerge. President Ben Bella had told the press that their role was to “say everything and comment on everything”. Journalists quickly understood that this was not, in fact, the case. Youcef’s story explores the role of the press in a new and increasingly authoritarian state, in which journalists had a very direct, often tempestuous, relationship with the most senior politicians. The limits of what could and could not be said were constantly tested. Along the way, we meet Presidents Ben Bella, Boumediene and Bouteflika, author Kateb Yassine, artist M’hamed Issiakhem and one Algeria’s first female journalists, Zhor Zerari.
|Translated title of the contribution
|Making and breaking the news
|Media of output
|Published - 29 Jul 2020