Lebanon’s Daily Star temporarily suspends print as Lebanese media struggles

A special issue of The Daily Star. (Twitter:jamalghosn)

Lebanon’s most well known English-language newspaper The Daily Star announced on Tuesday that it was suspending its print edition.

The announcement comes after months of the paper experiencing financial difficulties, with staff going on strike to protest not being paid, as Lebanon’s traditional media struggles in line with the deteriorating economy.

“A drop to virtually no advertising revenue in the last quarter of 2019, as well as in January of this year, compounded the already dire financial situation that has ravaged Lebanese newspapers with the rise of digital media and years of dwindling spending on ads as a result of the years-old economic slowdown,” read the statement issued by The Daily Star.

Several journalists voiced their disappointment with the announcement, which leaves the country with no traditional English-language printed daily newspaper.

“Sad news. The Star gave me incredible opportunities when I was starting out as a journalist. Hope it gets through this,” tweeted Finbar Anderson, who worked as a features writer for the paper.

“The end of print for Lebanon's only English language print newspaper is a historical loss but sadly not surprising,” said former employee and journalist Jacob Boswall.

“In recent years it is no secret that the paper has come under significant financial pressure, leading to walk outs from frustrated staff members. Going online seems to be the only way to save The Daily Star’s reputation and name, which is well worth saving,” he added.

In December, several of the paper’s well-known journalists left amid an employee strike in protest against months of late pay checks.

Government formation expert Benjamin Redd was fired on December 4 for showing solidarity with the strike, prompting fellow journalists including Timour Azhari to leave.

The difficulties at The Daily Star are part of a wider trend of difficulties for Lebanese media. The media empire of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has crumbled in recent months, with the closure of Future TV in September – with over 300 employees losing their jobs – and the al-Mustaqbal newspaper at the end of 2019.

Businesses more broadly are facing difficulties as the economy remains hamstrung by an ongoing scarcity of dollars after decades of mismanagement, providing fuel for continuing nationwide anti-government protests despite the formation of a new government in January under new Prime Minister Hassan Diab.

Yet the protests have also given independent media outlets such as Megaphone, Daraj and Raseef22 a boost, as protesters seek alternative news sources that challenge the establishment.

The Daily Star was founded in 1952 and claims to be the first English-language newspaper in the Arab world. The paper said that its website and social media platforms will continue to publish.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:05 - GMT 07:05
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