Shot in the Dark


The past few years have been ex­cru­ci­at­ing for media across the board. Print media, how­ever, have suf­fered the brunt of that mis­ery as a re­sult of a lack of rev­enue and the Arab world’s over­whelm­ing em­brace of new tech­nolo­gies, so­cial media and, of course, tele­vi­sion. Un­der such cir­cum­stances, the re­gion has been in­un­dated with fake news, un­sup­ported facts and worth­less drivel.

Nat­u­rally, this state of af­fairs makes vet­er­ans of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions industry cringe at the tripe that has been cir­cu­lated as hard news when, in fact in most cases, it’s noth­ing more than out­right mis­in­for­ma­tion em­a­nat­ing from sev­eral out­lets.

As a com­mu­ni­ca­tions man for the past 50 years, noth­ing has af­fected me emo­tion­ally as much as the re­cent clo­sure of the pan-arab Ara­bic-lan­guage daily Al-hayat. In fact, in ad­di­tion to be­ing an author­ity on the re­gion dur­ing the most tur­bu­lent times since the late ‘40s and the explosion of the Pales­tinian Nakba, it served as an academy for scores of ac­claimed jour­nal­ists.

It was an honor for me in the ‘60s to be en­trusted by the Mroue Fam­ily with man­ag­ing Al-hayat group, which in­cluded, in ad­di­tion to the Ara­bic edi­tion, the English-lan­guage daily The Daily Star, which is alive and kick­ing in this media jun­gle; the French-lan­guage Bey­routh Matin Daily; the PR com­pany Prodeco; and the fist sta­tis­tics firm Memry.

My re­la­tion with Al-hayat was at the time, and has al­ways re­mained de­spite vast dis­tances, pre­cious and nat­u­rally the pain feels more pro­nounced, which brings us back to the main theme of all this.

If we look back we can never forget that the founder and pub­lisher of Al­hayat was as­sas­si­nated, be­com­ing a mar­tyr, for his be­liefs. We also can’t forget the ob­sta­cles that were over­come in order to con­tinue pub­lish­ing. The idea that all that her­itage was buried on the in­struc­tions of a sin­gle in­di­vid­ual makes one’s blood boil, not to men­tion the dis­missal of the cream of the paper’s writ­ers and re­porters, who were the cat­a­lysts that made it flour­ish and kept it in de­mand ev­ery day. The demise of Al-hayat sig­ni­fies a golden era gone by, though its mem­ory and im­pres­sion will en­dure.

Cover De­sign by Tri­an­gle Mena

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