Tonight we've arrived in Misrata, the site of our next workshop. The city lies along the Mediterranean coast 187 km (116 miles) east of Tripoli and is Libya's third largest, a commercial hub hit hard by the war. It's been a year since revolutionaries cleared the city of Qadaffi loyalists after months of deadlocked fighting, and the blast marks of howitzers and machine gun fire still scar Tripoli street, the now infamous main drag. Misrata has a fiercely independent streak within Libya today, due to its unique role during the war and the contributions of its militias to Qadaffi's final overthrow (it was in Misrata that the leader's body was displayed to the public in a meat locker). Misrata's name is also freighted with significance within the community of foreign reporters, as it was here that the distinguished photojournalists Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were killed. There is some sense in Libya that Misrata is a world apart, a sort of city-state where residents started the work of building the post-Qadaffi order on an accelerated timetable. City council elections were successfully held here in February of this year, months ahead of June's planned national assembly elections (the national assembly will select a committee to draft Libya's constitution). Misrata already has three of its own TV channels. Its victorious brigades have not been fully disbanded. As in much of the rest of the country these armed groups fall under the merely nominal authority of the national defense ministry, and do pretty much as they please.
We were received warmly by our hosts from the local media council at a spacious TV station by the sea. It was already late, but more than half of our prospective trainees were there to greet us. Brian introduced us with a now established good cop-bad cop routine, and prodded everyone to not be outdone by the Tripoli workshop's videos; we expect strong work here. The facilities are excellent and the young people we met, many of whom established themselves with front-line reporting during the uprising, seem eager. We are told we are the first foreign media trainers in the city.
Guiding the enthusiasm on display to contribute to an election awareness campaign that is nationwide may present a challenge, as Misrata is still mending and residents are keen to display the wounds of their war. We hope to appeal to a sense of national purpose that will transcend local pride, as the contest of regional loyalties happening in Libya right now is one of the biggest obstacles in rebuilding the nation.