SUN 19 - 1 - 2020
Date: Oct 2, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Riachi pushes for urgent action to address press crisis
BEIRUT: Lebanon’s information minister Monday called for draft laws that would help the ailing press sector to be sent directly to Parliament for urgent attention.

Caretaker Information Minister Melhem Riachi held a meeting with the heads of various newspapers to discuss ways to help print media, after a second longtime Lebanese newspaper was forced to close Monday as a result of financial crises.

“Amid the current journalism crisis, we decided to refer the draft laws that I previously submitted to the Cabinet to become part of the draft laws sent to Parliament for urgent legislation,” Riachi said in a news conference after the meeting.

He announced that a committee had been formed to follow up on the proposal and that talks would be held with the president, prime minister-designate and the speaker.

In addition to the heads of the Press Federation and the Journalists Union, the members of the committee will be: The Daily Star Editor-in-Chief Nadim Ladki, Al-Akhbar Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim al-Amin, An-Nahar Editor-in-Chief Nayla Tueni, Dar Assayad head Elham Freiha, and Riachi himself.

President Michel Aoun also said he regretted the situation of the print press in Lebanon, according to a statement from his office Monday. “The printing press [in Lebanon] was a platform for writers and journalists that made Lebanon a country [that embodies] truth. The freedom of the press formed the basis for public opinion in Lebanon. The press managed to become a judge and a partner in building the country,” the statement quoted Aoun as saying. Aoun also expressed solidarity with all the media institutions that had shut down recently, and held a call with Freiha, expressing solidarity with her and the members of Dar Assayad.

The president praised the role that Dar Assayad played in the political, cultural, social and economic spheres of Lebanon, according to the statement.

The decision to shut down Al-Anwar as of Monday, made by its publisher, Dar Assayad, follows a similar decision in 2016 by Lebanese daily As-Safir to close its doors after more than 40 years in print, also as a result of financial troubles.

And in late June, pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat closed its offices in Lebanon, where it was founded, as part of a move to take its headquarters to Dubai for financial reasons and close its foreign bureaus.

Lebanese journalist Kamel Mroue, who founded The Daily Star and was assassinated in 1966, established Al-Hayat in 1946.

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