Gulf News closes Xpress tabloid and lays off staff at main pa­per

Campaign Middle East - - CONTENTS - By Austyn Al­li­son

Dubai-based weekly tabloid news­pa­per Xpress, pub­lished by Gulf News, has closed down its print pub­li­ca­tion, with the pa­per’s fi­nal edi­tion hit­ting news­stands on Au­gust 30. On the same day, Gulf News laid off staff from its main news­pa­per, in­clud­ing 18 from the ed­i­to­rial depart­ment.

Ab­dul Hamid Ah­mad, ed­i­tor in chief at Gulf News, called the de­ci­sion to close Xpress “painful” and blamed mar­ket con­di­tions and de­clin­ing rev­enues.

“We felt that we could not con­tinue do­ing real jour­nal­ism with­out rev­enue,” he said.

Xpress, which was launched in 2007 and spe­cialised in lo­cal news cov­er­age and in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism, will con­tinue to ex­ist online, and Ah­mad said there would be no staff lay­offs from Xpress, but con­firmed 18 mem­bers of Gulf News’s ed­i­to­rial team had been made re­dun­dant.

Ah­mad said Xpress had brought read­ers “qual­ity com­mu­nity sto­ries and in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports” for 11 years, many of which were picked up in­ter­na­tion­ally.

How­ever, he added: “Th­ese sto­ries did not come easy – we had to fight in the courts as there were cases filed against Xpress. Cer­tain par­ties, who felt they had been tar­geted by th­ese in­ves­tiga­tive re­ports, did not think twice be­fore fil­ing cases against us.

“We are thank­ful that we won all the cases. This proves two things. First: Jus­tice is al­ways meted out at UAE courts. Sec­ond: Our re­ports were strong and backed up by facts – con­fi­dence was re­posed in our sto­ries. That is why los­ing a news­pa­per such as Xpress, which fo­cused on com­mu­ni­ties, peo­ple and in­ves­tiga- tive re­ports, is painful.

“But then re­al­ity takes pri­or­ity over the wishes and hopes of ed­i­tors. Mar­ket con­di­tions do not help real jour­nal­ism with de­clin­ing ad­ver­tise­ments and loss of rev­enue. Though we took the tough road to keep Xpress go­ing, there had to be an end to all roads. And we felt that we could not con­tinue do­ing real jour­nal­ism with­out rev­enue. Hence, the road had to end. We have taken the de­ci­sion to close Xpress, but we prom­ise our read­ers that we will keep our con­tent alive online. We will post sto­ries daily or weekly on our mi­crosite Xpress, which falls within”

He thanked the news­pa­per’s read­ers and staff.

Out of print: Xpress will now ex­ist only online

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