The Lebanese media, particularly print journalism, shouldn’t be ashamed of admitting that the crisis in the industry has reached unprecedented levels. The role of the media is to address people’s problems and seek to find solutions. However, in Lebanon it is now drowning in its own set of problems and no real attempts are being made to resolve them.
After newspapers As-Safir and Al-Liwaa revealed last week that they are facing financial difficulties, many people have spoken out in defense of the press. There are also others who say journalism is not important. According to them Lebanon will be better off without these publications as some of them only deepen divisions, raise problems, defend the conflicting parties based on their own affiliation and sometimes even fuel disputes.
Print journalism is generally the voice of reason and influences a category of wise men who do not impulsively react and take to the streets – unlike the mobilization which television stations do via live coverage. However I think both the television and the newspapers deliver news and analyses and do not bear the responsibility for triggering events, which politicians and religious leaders are responsible for.
Various sectors in Lebanon are facing serious financial issues. Hotels, restaurants and industrial and commercial firms are all passing through a crunch period. Many of them have had to shut down not because they did not receive funds from political parties as some would like to claim. The media’s financial crisis is due to general snapping of funds.
Some of the statements are not made on the basis of empirical evidence. Studies suggest that money spent on advertisements is the main source of revenue for media houses. These advertising revenue, however, have dropped by 50-60 percent since 2011. Also, most media outlets dig into the same pool for revenue. Since there is a general lack of development in the country, there is next to no increase in funds spent on advertisement, which adds to the misery.
Print journalism is generally the voice of reason and influences a category of wise men who do not impulsively react and take to the streets – unlike the mobilization which television stations do via live coverage.Nayla Tueni
The media and other industries such as publishing, libraries and book exhibitions grapple with the same financial crisis. It has become really difficult for print journalism and will eventually become as difficult for other media outlets.
Media as an industry supports governments in developed countries. It is needed to take the message to the world, defend human rights and demand answers. It is needed to expose corruption and fight against it, and it is doing what it can to perform this role.
What is important now is that the plight of Lebanese media is not turned into material for mockery. It cannot be an appeal for help that goes unanswered as closure of some dailies is a serious issue. If closures go on like this, it will not be good for the industry in Lebanon, which has grown with the Arab press and which has been the Arab world’s publishing house. It will not be good for the people of Lebanon, their history, legacy and future.
Despite the crisis surrounding us, we at the an-Nahar newspaper will stay loyal to the era of Ghassan and Gebran Tueni and we tell everyone: “Gebran has not died, and an-Nahar will continue to publish” alongside all the loyal employees and contributors.
This article was first published in an-Nahar on Mar. 21, 2016.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni