Le­banese Press Raises Red Flag

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We are all aware of the cri­sis and strug­gles fac­ing the press in Le­banon. It is in this con­text and while sev­eral news­pa­pers are wound down that Al Joumhouria and An Na­har have made their voice sound and clear, each with a mes­sage that was made to trig­ger height­ened aware­ness on the state of print me­dia. On one hand, An Na­har pub­lished an 8-page blank is­sue with only the news­pa­per’s ti­tle printed, the pic­ture of its late ed­i­tor-in-chief Ge­bran Tueni and his fa­mous oath, the pub­li­ca­tion’s so­cial me­dia user­names and ed­i­to­rial in­for­ma­tion. An-na­har’s web­site also fea­tured empty ar­ti­cles. Its so­cial me­dia pro­files had white back­grounds, white pro­file pic­tures and pub­lished blank posts. “An-na­har’s white pages rep­re­sent an ex­pres­sion of our feel­ings of re­spon­si­bil­ity as a na­tional pub­li­ca­tion to­wards the cat­a­strophic sit­u­a­tion of our coun­try,” said Nayla Tueni Ed­i­tor-in-chief of the daily An-na­har dur­ing a news con­fer­ence. “The coun­try’s sit­u­a­tion is bad and the press sit­u­a­tion is bad. An-na­har can con­tinue, and it will. […]”our scream to­day is to ex­press the pain that we can no longer bear the sit­u­a­tion.” On the other hand, Al Joumhouria has rolled out an out­door and TV cam­paign. Four vi­su­als have been cre­ated by Phe­nom­ena as­sert­ing: Aljoumhouria… Com­plete it is bound to be; Free it is bound to be; Fair it is bound to be; The first it is bound to be. Of course these state­ments have a dou­ble mean­ing as they not only re­fer to the news­pa­per but also hint to the repub­lic as a whole as the lit­eral trans­la­tion from Ara­bic to English is closer to “to be free or not to be” and these are im­per­a­tive qual­i­fi­ca­tions for a healthy na­tion. “Un­der the same es­tab­lished an­i­ma­tion which high­lights the best con­sti­tu­tional con­no­ta­tions of the Le­banese repub­lic, we crafted a new script to de­scribe and crit­i­cize the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion and to pro­voke a pos­i­tive shock,” ex­plained Sami Saab, founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of Phe­nom­ena. ”This ‘Awak­en­ing’ cam­paign is an ap­peal to the en­tire na­tion by say­ing enough is enough. All of us are con­cerned. Let’s not lose hope.” Af­ter all, far from a sim­ple news­pa­per, it is sub­stan­tive and di­verse in­for­ma­tion that is key to a healthy democ­racy. And this what Al Joumhouria wants to stand for: a plat­form for em­pow­er­ment of the Repub­lic. Hence Al Joumhouria be­comes “The Voice” that awak­ens our Na­tion from the ap­a­thy!

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