A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Post Mortem Assessments on the Egypt Independent Closure

Last week's decision ti close the weekly print edition of the English-language Egypt Independent (see this piece, with links to the last issue, published online only), and — after an initial statement indicating the online English edition was also being closed — a clarification that the online version would continue, but with an "integrated newsroom" with Al-Masry al-Youm (presumably meaning no independent English-only reporting staff), several commentators have weighed in with post-mortems:
  • At the Daily News Egypt, itself an online reincarnation of a paper closed last year, Mahmoud Salem ("Sandmonkey") offers "Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept it . . ." a challenge yo English-speaking readers to rally to keeo alive an independent press in English. (The Ahram Online website and the Al-Ahram Weekly in print are, of course, government-run papers.)
  • Vivian Salama at the Columbia Journalism Review website has a piece, "In the Egypt Independent's Closure, an End of a Beginning," interviewing the former Editor-in-Chief, Lina Atallah, and citing the growing pressures on the independent press, in Arabic as well as English.
  • At the Wall Street Journal's Middle East Real Time, Maria Abi Habib on "Egypt's Independent Press Takes a Hit."
  • Mention of Lina Atallah above invites the comment as well that Egypt Independent not only had a female Editor-in-Chief but a reporting and commentary staff that must have been nearly half female, certainly not the norm in the Egyptian press. Sarah Carr, one of those reporters, takes to her own blog to deliver the scathing "A Statement from the Fortress of Evil," satirically purporting to be the "full version" of what was "left out" of the management's official statement. ("Al-Masry Al-Youm Corp. has decided to shut down its one good thing which was called Egypt Independent but which in this statement will be called The Egypt Independent because of our natural aversion to accuracy.") It clearly conveys what she sees as their contempt for their readership. (It's therefore appropriately and colorfully profane: language Not Safe for Work, but funny.)

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