Lebanon News

Al-Ittihad suspended after just two months of circulation

Al-Ittihad newspaper. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Daily newspaper Al-Ittihad is to release its final edition after just over two months of circulation. Staff at the outlet told The Daily Star they were informed of the paper’s suspension Wednesday afternoon by Nour Nasser, assistant and daughter of Editor-in-Chief Mustafa Nasser.

Mustafa Nasser, who is in the hospital according to several sources within the paper, reportedly said at an editorial meeting last week that he was considering “closing down the paper for a few months in order to recruit his own staff,” a reporter at Al-Ittihad said. Lebanon’s print news industry has struggled financially for years – marked by the closure of the country’s oldest paper As-Safir at the end of 2016 and widespread layoffs, however sources and local media reported that financial difficulties were not the cause of Al-Ittihad’s closure.

Many of the journalists that made up Al-Ittihad’s new staff of more than 50 people were former employees of As-Safir, and were reportedly hand-picked by Al-Ittihad’s political editor Hussein Ayoub.

Ayoub left the paper for disputed reasons without warning in the first week of November, a source close to the paper told The Daily Star. Since then, sources said at least five other senior editors and reporters have either quit or been fired.

Employees were given no official explanation regarding the closure, nor were briefed about compensation or their financial rights, the sources said.

Al-Ittihad launched its first edition on Oct. 24 with a two-page interview with Speaker Nabih Berri on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his taking office.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 28, 2017, on page 2.

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