SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

SKF 2020 Annual Report: A Bleak 2020 Vision

Friday , 12 March 2021

In the decade leading up to this most exceptional of years, there had been an abundance of campaigns by a number of companies and institutions proclaiming an arbitrarily ambitious target to be met by the end of the decade itself. These campaigns were often dubbed with the now ironic slogan of “2020 vision”. It is fair to say that, in hindsight, “2020 vision” is not all it was cracked up to be. Although, it is also true that “2020 vision” has allowed us to see more clearly, and with greater detail, the violations against freedom of expression, the propagation of disinformation and hate speech, and the dire need for further support of cultural pursuits and journalists who have suffered as a result of Lebanon’s never-ending security, economic and political crises.

This challenging state of affairs is evident worldwide, but particularly so in the Levant, including Lebanon, where the COVID-19 pandemic was compounded by economic woes, security concerns, and the criminal negligence of the ruling class. Having said that, on the global stage, the Black Lives Matter movement in response to centuries of racial injustice, and social media’s potent reaction to disinformation and hate speech heralded a new beginning; in Lebanon, the perceived shift in culture – brought about by the October 17, 2019 revolution – towards accountability and away from clientelism, provided a glimmer of hope. After all, there is little use for vision, however impeccable, without at least a glimmer. Throughout this past year, the Samir Kassir Foundation has continued tackling disinformation, hate speech and digital safety as well as monitoring regional violations of freedom of expression, and providing support to independent media outlets, cultural endeavors, and journalists affected by the Beirut port explosion.

Those who have chosen to write off 2020 as a year to forget are undoubtedly justified in doing so. Though it is worth remembering the lessons of this chastening year, especially as far as the Samir Kassir Foundation is concerned, in matters to do with freedom of press, constructive discourse, accountability, and the value of information, judiciously primed and shrewdly conveyed. If there is merit at all in the now ludicrous “2020 vision” slogan, it is in its newfound role as a humbling reminder that flawless vision serves no purpose in the darkness.

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