Sunday, March 26, 2006

Another Perspective

Rumor has it that the well known journalists Ibrahim Al-Amin and Joespeh Smaha, both of whom left As-Safir on rather unfriendly terms, are re-opening an old leftist newspaper. Apparently, they are partnering in this venture with Azmi Bshara and Onsi Al-Hajj, An-Nahar’s former editor-in-chief, one of Lebanon’s foremost journalists, and a pioneer of Lebanese prose poetry. Incidentally, Al-Hajj left An-Nahar a long time ago following a clash with the late Gebran Tweini.

Such a newspaper, should it come to be, would hopefully add some color to the local media scene. While it would be naïve to assume that this is a neutral newspaper, it may actually serve to host some voices and opinions which, like those of Smaha and Al-Amine, have been repeatedly suppressed with the events that followed the assassination of the late prime minister Rafic Hariri.

Al-Amine is often accused by the "February 14" forces of having ties to the Syrians. His latest writings, before leaving As-Safir, focused on socio-economic issues and attacked the corruption of politicians who ruled Lebanon under Syria’s tutelage. He also criticized the abuse of the Hariri assassination in local, and regional, politics; he often doubted the credibility of Mehlis team and the course of the UN investigation in the assassination of Hariri.

Smaha is actually one of the best and most cultured journalists in Lebanon. He was the cultural page editor in As-Safir before he made editor-in-chief. Under him, As-Safir’s cultural page became one of the most prominent in Arab countries. He is a profound analyst who, having his own opinions and standings, is able to argue for them in rational and objective ways. Of course, most would still disagree.


Jamal said...

I don't disagree. At least not on Smaha.
I'm not a big fan of El Amin though. I think he made stuff up, but then again why were they so eager to silence him if he wasn't on to something?
The key here is can they survive without a sugardaddy?

Hassan said...


Fares Khachan said some time ago that they were being financed by Jamil Sayyed's family, but I really doubt it. Like all newspapers in the world, they will need tons of funding. Just keep in mind how much money the French have pumped into An-Nahar over the years, especially when starting it up and after they left. I think any funding here will be state-level. If only we could get more transparency laws on the funding of newspapers; that would be interesting.

JoseyWales said...

IMHO, what's needed is a new perspective on the region and local politics/economics, plus some serious investigative journalism.

From what I hear about these people, that ain't it.

Raja said...

media outlets in Europe do not even attempt to claim neutrality. You have "lefist" papers, "conservative" papers, etc.... I believe that the tradition of at least claiming neutrality is a US one.

I prefer the European model.

As long as people know what they are reading, and have the inalienable right to choose what they would like to read, I am fine!

The more the merrier!

Anonymous said...

I must say that by comparison journalism as a profession puts most other professions in lebanon to shame. For example, I wish our medical personnel were half as professional as our journalists. We can always use more media outlets, but I certainly dont see a lack of outlets as a problem in our society. After all, we have to look forward not backwards, and the bloggosphere (including this seminal website) is and will continue to thrive.


Anonymous said...

From what I've heard it's gona be financed by Miqati and a group of investors from Qatar (I presume Tahsin Khayat could have played a role in securing the Qatari connection).

bashir said...

I agree with Hassan. Assafir lost Smaha, to say the least.