A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

a dimmed star in Lebanon

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on January 23, 2009

Pssst, Diamond, K (for “knowledgeable” – not her real first initial) said to me online on January 15.

I have been sworn to secrecy, but an anonymous source tells me that the daily star officially went bankrupt yesterday,

H used to say that it has been on the cusp of bankruptcy for years, I replied. I’m not surprised.

And I wasn’t. I wasn’t surprised to see unofficial confirmations appear on various blog’s, including Qifa Nabki’s – nor to see the three official articles that appeared yesterday on Menassat, Gulf News, and the LA Times websites. But I am sad.

The Daily Star, for all that I love to make fun of it, has been a rich source of news and analysis for English-speakers around the Middle East since its founding more than 50 years ago. Its editor, the legendary, Kamel Mroue, was murdered for his work with the paper – and yet it continued publishing, with little effort to curry favor with one or another political faction.

It hasn’t done well in recent years – a partnership with the International Herald Tribune evidently ended when the IHT realized that the Daily Star was pocketing the moneys allotted for publishing the IHT each day, rather than printing it, which the DS explained was due to its need for funds. And advertising – as everywhere in the Middle East – is sparse. But the thought of English-speakers in (and interested in) Lebanon having only Naharnet and Now Lebanon as their sources for news and analysis chills my blood.

At the same time, I can’t help but think that the paper’s economic woes were perhaps best forecast by its massively confusing economic and business reporting. I’ll close with a link to one of my all-time favorite blog posts: an analysis of an article on the Lebanese banking scene that Riemer Brouwer did in July 2007. I read it at work, laughed until tears came to my eyes, and then read it out loud to H. Here it is – enjoy.

2 Responses to “a dimmed star in Lebanon”

  1. c said

    hi dear,

    i share your sadness, but fortunately it seems that this probably isn’t the end for the star. the paper did not file for bankruptcy – but jamil owes a lot of money, and by court order the paper was closed till he pays up. however, apparently, under lebanese law he has a year, during which time the paper is free to operate (however, as the bulk of assets are frozen, salaries would be even harder to pay…). so, it is my understanding that at this point the inclination is to sell the paper (and yes, there are still interested parties out there… the daily star brand has largely survived recent years of mediocrity). even at a bargain price, the proceeds from selling the paper would easily cover the debt.

    in a way, this is arguably the best outcome, as (in my opinion at least) the star still has tremendous potential under competent management — new ownership could be just what it needs.

    so, in short, despite all the doom and gloom, it is unlikely that the daily star is permanently off our newsstands.

  2. Hi C with a hug and an apology for the slow reply. I’m glad that you were right and that the DS is back, although I’m curious to know who the new investors are – and what expectations they have for the paper and its point of view!

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