End of an era : The Daily Star shuts down as Lebanon’s situation worsens

The-Daily-Star-
Share:

Beirut- The Daily Star, Lebanon’s oldest English-language newspaper, has officially closed its doors after years of financial difficulties.

The paper was founded in 1952 by Kamel Mrowe, the publisher of the Arabic daily Al-Hayat, to serve the growing number of expatriates brought by the oil industry. First circulating in Lebanon and then expanding throughout the region, it not only relayed news about foreign workers’ home countries, but also served to keep them informed about the region. By the 1960s it was the leading English language newspaper in the Middle East.

Upon the death of Mrowe in 1966, his widow Salma El Bissar took over the paper, running it until the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War forced the suspension of publication. With peace hopes running high in the beginning of 1983, the paper restarted production under the guidance of Mrowe’s sons, but the intensification of the war again put the paper under pressure. The flight of the intelligentsia from the country depleted the paper’s staff and its readership. Still, it continued as a daily until mid 1985 and then as a weekly for another year, before ceasing publication once again. One of daily’s early editors was Jihad Khazen.

With the arrival of peace in 1991, and the development of a rebuilding program three years later, the paper again looked to publish. With Kamel’s first son Jamil Mroue as leader, printing was recommenced in 1996 with modern presses, experienced foreign journalists, and Lebanese staff.

In 2004, The Daily Star merged its Lebanon and regional editions choosing to focus on Lebanese expatriates in the Persian Gulf region.

In 2006, the newspaper announced that its paper would soon be available in print in the United States.

For two weeks (14 January to 31 January 2009), the printing of the paper was suspended by a Lebanese court order after financial difficulties. The website was not updated either. The newspaper resumed publishing the second week of February 2009 with certain agreements with creditors about payment of accumulating debt.

On 4 February 2020, the newspaper announced temporary suspension of its print publication owing to financial difficulties

The Daily Star signed an exclusive marketing representation, printing and distribution agreement with the International Herald Tribune in 2000. Under the terms of the agreement, The Daily Star represented the IHT in the GCC, Lebanon, SyriaJordanEgyptYemen and IraqThe Daily Star also produced a local edition in Kuwait.

The Daily Star management however decided to break the agreement over a dispute regarding the newspaper’s length, which the IHT management wanted to see reduced.

The paper reduced considerably in size after temporarily closing in January 2009. It is no longer distributed with the IHT.

‘The paper was purchased by new investors led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2010. There had been financial difficulties since then, but the newspaper had continued to attract top reporters and served as a training ground for local and international journalists.

Downfall

In light of changes in consumer behavior having adverse reactions towards politically owned and affiliated media outlets following the October 17 Revolution, The Daily Star began losing revenue and readership.  In February 2020, The Daily Star ceased its print editions, citing its inability to secure advertising. They were also unable to pay their staff, with many reporting working for at least 6 months with no pay – a similar story to that of other Hariri-owned outlets like Future TV.  As of December 2020, it no longer held the leading position for Lebanese news in English – losing its decades-long position to other Lebanese and Arab English websites

Since October the 8th, 2021, there have been no new publications. A message on their website confirms that they are currently not active at this time.

The paper’s editor-in-chief, Nadim Ladki, held a conference call with employees and staff before notifying them of the decision, which took effect on Oct. 31.

The Daily Star is the latest media outlet to close down as Lebanon’s situation worsens. After 42 years, the As-Safir newspaper closed its doors in 2016. An-Nahar, one of the Arab world’s leading newspapers, has also had to lay off employees over the years and is still struggling financially.

The Daily Star is the latest media outlet to close down as Lebanon’s financial situation worsens. Similarly the As-Safir newspaper closed its doors in 2016 after 42 years. One of the Arab world’s leading newspapers An-Nahar, , has also had to lay off employees over the years and is still struggling financially and no longer publishes in English

According to media reports , TV stations in the country are also having difficulty paying their employees.

Share: