Monday, January 2, 2017

Assafir is dead long live - the demise of print

Caricature by Naji El Ali
Assafir is no more. Wait, I just announced that one of Lebanon's leading newspapers is no longer in print, by linking to a blog? See how times have changed? Back when Assafir "was the voice of those who have no voice of their own" (sawt allazin la sawta lahom), that respectable institution was still making waves. I guess - much like Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, the Independent - and many other titles who stopped their print editions in favor of websites, Assafir has fallen prey to the crisis engulfing the print industry. Lower readers, less advertisers, and a shift towards having information round the clock from digital news outlets - anything from internet, to apps to breaking news by text messages.
Assafir was supposed to stop print by March but got some influx of cash to keep on till the end of the year. Lebanon's other major newspaper Annahar is said to also be facing issues with the world being what it is today. What worries me however is that with Facebook and Google draining much of the online budget from traditional publishers, we might end up with news (fake or real) parroting the same stories since there is no longer a budget for foreign desks or to pay reporters for investigative journalism. But hey, this is the price to pay when we are used to getting information for free.
I suppose, unless we evolve and adapt, there is truly no chance of remaining relevant in today's market.
Assafir (in print) is dead, long live!