A wave of closures soon for Lebanese newswpapers: Safir to close in June
Translated by our Mideastwire.com
On March 24, the Lebanon Debate news website carried the following report: “After a 47 years long journey in the world of printed press, and after being a pioneer among the local newspapers, the decision has been made by the administration of As-Safir newspaper to close it for good. The shutdown does not only concern the paper version but also the electronic website… On Wednesday morning, all the full-timers working for this institution were informed of the final decision to shut the institution down by early June… A source from As-Safir told Lebanon Debate that “this decision did not come as a surprise to us but rather made our hearts bleed for the institution where we grew up…”
“Another source from the newspaper said that “the decision that Talal Salman, the newspaper’s owner, took around a year ago to increase the price of the copy to 2000 Lebanese pounds [around $1.5] was not a random decision at all… For a long while, the newspaper was no longer depending on the sales but rather on the advertisements and the external funding mainly from Libya and Egypt in addition to some March 8 sides recently but not directly from Iran because Salman does not have a strong relationship with the Iranian regime and he subsequently gets no direct funding from there.”
“…One As-Safir veteran journalist said that there are three main reasons for the final shutdown the most important of which is that the newspaper was previously financed by the Muammar Gaddafi regime. As this regime collapsed, one funding door was shut. The same goes for Iraq and Egypt since some parties within these two countries used to support the newspaper in the past. As for the second reason, it is well known that the political money distributed to the media in Lebanon either comes from Saudi Arabia or Iran. However, since the relationship of Talal Salman with Saudi Arabia is not good, and since at the same time, he does not have a very strong relationship with the Iranian regime, it is difficult to obtain financial support from these two sides. On top of that, the advertisements saw a major regression and most of them went in favor of the electronic websites.
“As for the third reason, Salman has two other partners one of which is a Syrian American and the other is Lebanese national Monah al-Solh (who is deceased) and was close to [former] MP Najib Mikati. The partners had major differences in the past… As for the website, Ahmad Talal Salman along with the son of another partner managed the website for a while and then left for some obscure reasons. Then, Munir al-Khatib took over. However, he seemingly failed to develop it as he should have.
“There were thus many internal problems mainly problems between the new director (Al-Khatib) and the website’s staff members… It seems that As-Safir website failed to achieve the needed success with respect to the quantity and flow of the pieces of news… Thus, the website was not but a copy of the paper version…”