Friday, April 26, 2013

Morning Brief: Final issue of Egypt Independent, English language weekly, chronicles its own demise; new study shows wide gap perception to the media in Arab countries, as well as differences in Internet access

Rarely do editors get to spend much of their final issue talking about the history, trials and tribulations of their publication. For many reporters, editors and other newspaper staff, the end comes quick, often with a group of moving men entering the newsroom with empty boxes. At best, many newspapers simply run a story on the front page with large headline stating that "This is the End."

Quite a number of newspapers I worked at no longer exists – Hearst's L.A. Examiner, Copley's Santa Monica Outlook, for instance – but none closed while I was working at the publication. But while most newspaper closings in the U.S. are the result of economics and financial decisions made by media owners, elsewhere there may be far more to the decision.

Picture from final issue of the staff at Egypt Independent
The Egypt Independent, an English language weekly, has produced its final edition and is offering a PDF of the paper due to its being banned from publishing in print.

"Today the owners decided to kill the paper, they claim financial trouble, but in reality the big business behind Al Masry Al Youm is no longer interested in a true revolutionary voice," wrote Alaa Abdel Fattah.

The final issue is an extremely interesting read and I would encourage readers to download the PDF. Articles discuss not only the political situation of publishing an English language paper in Egypt, especially a socially progressive one (the paper's head is a woman), but also discuss the business side of publishing paper, its mistakes and its triumphs.

A study released this week gives a picture of how media consumers view the credibility of the media in Arab countries. The survey results, released during a session of the Qatar Media Industries Forum in Doha, Qatar revealed that only a quarter of media consumers surveyed found the media "credible" in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia, while those in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates looked at the media more favorably. The poll was conducted by Northwestern University in Qatar. With nearly 10,000 adults surveyed, it is said to be "the largest study in the region for public release on media use," said Kerry Hill, a research director at Harris Interactive.

According to an Al Jazeera report on the poll, the survey revealed a large gap between wealthy Gulf countries and less affluent Arab nations found to the west. Wealthy countries enjoyed far more access to the Internet – nearly 90 percent of those in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have access – whereas only 22 percent of Egyptian citizens enjoy Internet access.