The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its deepest concerns over the massive lay-off taking place at different Lebanese media following an economic crisis in the region.
Lebanon’s biggest newspapers are on the verge of financial collapse due to political instability in the region which has driven to strong budget cuts. The news industry in Lebanon has been traditionally plagued by political funding and some journalists denounce that most of the media remain backed by political parties or businessmen that are loyal to these parties.
Following the current political instability in the region, ten leading media in Lebanon are now struggling with serious economic difficulties, reports said. In addition, a source from the journalists’ union in the country reported that 70% among some 2,600 journalists currently employed risked dismissal in the short term.
On 27 September, the Arabic-speaking newspaper Al Moustakbal (The Future) has fired 51 journalists, technicians and media workers and announced plans to sack 50 more in the coming months. The daily forced them to sign a letter stating that they wouldn´t claim their indemnities until the financial situation of the newspaper gets better. According to media reports, Al Moustakbal’s employees haven’t been paid in the last 14 months, leaving them and their families to struggle to survive.
A couple of days after, Al-Akhbar (The News) newspaper fired 15 employees (4 editors, 5 correspondents and 6 media workers in editorial, proofreading and web-managing teams) after seeing their salaries reduced in some of the cases by half, reports added. Al Safir (The Ambassador) daily also fired 49 journalists, mainly seniors, and threatened to fire more while Annahar newspaper which hasn´t paid its staff for a year is planning to fire 100 out of 170 journalists, local media reported.
The IFJ fully supports the journalists´ community in Lebanon and demands the respect for their labour rights in such difficult moments.
“In order to save press industry in Lebanon first it should become independent from political and economic powers and any other external interference affecting our colleagues’ freedom to investigate,” said IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger.
“We condemn this mass dismissal of journalists, who are fundamental to ensure press freedom and to provide high quality information in Lebanon. Although the country is facing a financial crisis and the media companies are suffering from economic down turns, media workers should not be the victims of unscrupulous employers. Our colleagues’ labour rights must be fully respected through social protection for themselves and their families in recognition of their important contribution to society".
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries