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Lebanon’s Press Suffering When It's Needed Most
Posted on Sep 16, 2020 |
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At no time in Lebanon’s history has the country been more in need of reliable information delivered by its established news media, particularly its trusted newspapers.
With the country caught in the whirlwinds of multiple storms, citizens are desperate for facts, for an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground and perhaps more importantly of what has yet to come.
the Author
Editor in Chief - The Daily Star
Lebanon’s Press Suffering When It's Needed Most

At no time in Lebanon’s history has the country been more in need of reliable information delivered by its established news media, particularly its trusted newspapers.

With the country caught in the whirlwinds of multiple storms, citizens are desperate for facts, for an accurate picture of what’s happening on the ground and perhaps more importantly of what has yet to come.

Yet it is tragic that at such a crucial point in Lebanon’s history the country’s media, vulnerable to the same ills buffeting the country, are at their most disadvantaged, suffering blow after blow until their voices have been nearly stifled.

It is no secret that traditional newspapers have been on the decline globally for years due to the increasing prevalence of social media and the rise of digital platforms. The ensuing shift in readers’ preference for online sources has naturally resulted in a contraction in ad revenue for print publications.

In Lebanon, however, the difficulties have been more acute. The media industry was already struggling prior to the protests that erupted last year on Oct. 17, but the subsequent economic paralysis and financial crisis and constraints further undermined what was left of any revenue to speak of, particularly from the banking sector, a major source of advertising revenue for newspapers and other media.

The nationwide lockdowns following the detection of COVID-19 cases in Lebanon made matters even worse, further constraining the economy and rendering even the notion of future ads revenue implausible. Even financial support from political avenues, traditional sources of media income in the region, has dried up.

Then came the devastating Beirut Port explosion, which along with killing nearly 200 people, injuring thousands and destroying thousands of homes across the capital, wreaked material damage on the offices of essential established media outlets including The Daily Star and An-Nahar at a time when both are struggling and unable to cover their costs.

Meanwhile, while the country’s trusted media are scrambling to repair the damage, social media channels are bombarded by fake news which distorts reality and muddies people’s perceptions at a time when they desperately need to know what’s really happening. With established outlets lacking the resources to professionally deliver information, audiences are subjected to false, biased and manipulative content that further compounds sectarian tensions in a country on the brink.

Moreover, in a country known traditionally as the beacon of free press in the Middle East region, media freedoms are growing increasingly restricted while journalists, who are struggling to make ends meet as much if not more that anyone else, are facing nonsensical lawsuits over even the most trivial articles, social media posts and statements.

Now, more than ever, Lebanon’s established media need support to return to the vanguard of news reporting. They need help in order to be able to cut through the rumors and innuendo that are heightening tensions, to push to the wayside the fabricated news that is plaguing social media and to once again become the organizations people turn to when they are most in need of factual and quality coverage.

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Sep 2020
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