Sunday, April 17, 2005

Lebanese public policy 101 - oh how depressing!!!!

When I read articles like this one, a huge fire begins to burn inside of me! I am not sure who to blame: Bahia, the Daily Star, or the overall shallowness of Lebanese policy discourse. What I am sure of is that something serious is wrong when crap like this gets published in the only English newspaper in Lebanon which, by the way, the “elite” are supposed to read!

The title of the article is “MP Hariri announces new development plan for Sidon.” But does the article say ANYTHING about this plan of Bahia’s??? NO! NADA! NOTHING! The following are quotes from the first line of every paragraph in the pathetic 250-word piece:

- Hariri addressed thousands…
- The celebration started with…
- Hariri told the crowd that she "will never accept words of condolences…
- She added: "I have called you to meet together today as one family…
- "Everyone is invited to start the development process in Sidon in order to have a city fit for Rafik Hariri…
- Commenting on the ongoing investigations into her brother's death, she said …
- "Sidon is a strong city which deserves Rafik Hariri…

Okay… so where is the economic plan? What is Ms. Hariri thinking of doing? The closest she came to an economic (???) objective - forget plan - was that she wants a city "fit for Rafik Hariri”! Okay, so what does this city look like? Please, I’d like someone to define what “a city fit for Rafik Hariri” is! If I was a resident of Sidon, how the hell would I decide whether on not to support her economic plan?

This is all just crazy! This is Lebanese public policy 101 for you everybody! I hope you’re enjoying the view! I keep on having to remind myself that the Daily Star is an English newspaper that is supposed to be read by the elite; but every time I do so, I shudder at the thought!

Mustapha, in one of your posts, you raised the issue why the dailystar was experiencing a decline in ratings.... Maybe this is your answer buddy!

The irony is that the newspaper probably has nothing to do with it, and there is really nothing to report. Poor Daily Star! Poor Lebanon!


ThinkingMan said...

True, it wasn't clear whether Hariri was just campaigning or whether there was substance in her event. I am assuming that other Arabic newspapers must have covered it better and that should be the reference point.

As for the Daily Star, what I think they suffer from is "inconsistency". They do have some really good reporting and editorials and often dare to say things that very true; however there is that 10-20% that is really bad and superficial and it gives them a bad name. I am guessing that they are being "editorially" challenged. Keeping the quality across the board is not easy.

Anonymous said...

Not gonna bother with this DS article.

RE Daily Star, I find their opinion section "sucky". The DS editorial is always vapid, states the obvious, and is infantile. It mostly boils down to: Assad needs to become a nice guy, the Leb/arab politicians need to become nice guys, Ah if only Bush agreed with the Daily Star staff etc... This is wishful thinking and useless.

The opinion pieces (other than Michael Young) are weak in general, and skewed 9/10 in favor of the Arabist/Arab intellectual-type bankrupt ideas.

To top it off, half their letters to the editor are idiotic and do not deserve to be published.

It is not that Naharnet is a lot better, but at least they have Gebrane Tueni who makes up for Ghassan's directionless ramblings. (the other guys from an-Nahar are not translated on Naharnet, but I have a feeling no great loss there).
At the DS, Michael Young has a whole lot more to overcome.

The other thing that bugs me: an elitist arrogance to the DS. Can't put my finger on it but it comes through.

PS. OK Ghassan T. and Khouri fans, have at it.


reem said...


Are you actually certain that Bahia's speech presented the economic and policy features of the plan? maybe the article lacks substance only because it followed the format of the speech -so that a plan was announced, along with the "subjective" reasons for it, but with the "how to implement the plan" issue not announced yet...I may be completely wrong, as I haven't followed the news from other sources.

Raja said...


I hope Bahia actualy announced plans and goals in her speach (other than "a city fit for Rafik Hariri" R.I.P.).

But, assuming the Daily Star journalist didn't bother including that in the article, what does it tell you about the editorial quality of the newspaper? Even more damning, what does it tell you about the expectations of Daily Star readers who reside in Lebanon?

No matter how you look at it Reem, it just doesn't look good!

The Sandmonkey said...

You are right, but at least you guys have good alternatives and politicians that care about the country.

In other words, a7med rabak u r not egyptian. At least Hizballah isn;t the majority party, not like the MB is in Egypt.

Bass yallah, let's hope for the best. May elections are coming up, who si gonna be taking Harriri's place? will it be his sister or his son? Inform me we hiyatak!

Raja said...


i hear that good things are happening in Egypt, politically. However, you're right we do have some choice in Lebanon; BUT PLEASE let's not exagerate.

We have a lot of MPs who possess real power, but electoins are held at the district level; therefore, if you want to evaluate the choices that Lebanese citizens have, you have to look there. And
unfortunately, its not such a pretty picture!

In Lebanon, there's also a problem of "bad consumers." People choose politicians based on criteria that force you to question your own sanity! You find this problem in a lot of democracies, but in Lebanon, it is magnified! I liken it to someone sticking with his or her 1970s datsun eventhough he could afford a brand new Mercedes Benz.

what I'm trying to say is: don't think voting for political leaders is the solution to all your problems. Once you get there, you'll have to work on a lot more!

Charles Malik said...

Ouf. The elite reads the Daily Star? Ugh...
Which elite are you refering to? The Daily Star is trash. I can't even read the thing.
I don't read L'Orient Le Jour either, but I've always thought of that as the elite paper.
I still get startled looks from sectarian friends of mine for reading Safir (Laysh? Nahar est le premier. Safir Surie). It's just that I can't bring myself to read Nahar or Diyar.

Raja said...


In normal circumstances, newspapers are supposed to give you a more detailed and nuanced version of yesterday night's television newscasts. In the case of the Daily Star, I began realizing that I'd actually get more detail from the television newscast than I would from the darn paper!

as for my "elite" comment.... The question is: who but the elite in Lebanon are able to read English well enough to understand the content of a newspaper?