Daily News Egypt, the country’s only independent English-language newspaper, has closed. All operations, including those of its website, ceased to operate over the weekend, according to Chief Editor Rania al-Malky, leaving the 100-year-old government-run Egyptian Gazette as the only English-language newspaper.
“I think it’s a huge loss, a terrible loss; the impact we are seeing on newspapers all over the world,” Malky told The Media Line.
“Media are changing faster than we expected. We were the first independent newspaper and it was the challenge of a lifetime just to get the story right – especially when there is conflicting news,” Malky said.
Daily News Egypt was also one of the few Middle Eastern newspapers run by women.
Although the collapse of the Egyptian economy since the overthrow of former president Husni Mubarak has taken a toll on advertising and media institutions, Malky insisted that Arabic-language newspapers are thriving in Egypt because of the pace of public events – literally “hundreds at a time” – including elections, the drafting of a new constitution, and the transition to the post-Mubarak era.
According to Malky, because advertisers were not attracted to the English-language press as a mass media target, it was nearly impossible to sell them advertising. The English market is comprised primarily of the diplomatic corps and tourists, whose numbers have fallen since the revolution. The website was widely read outside the country by people with specific interest in Egypt or a more general concern for world or regional events.
Ahmed el-Demerdash, one of the newspaper’s investors, told The Media Line that he was “devastated” and that Daily News Egypt’s closing “is a tremendous loss.” He explained that, “the paper lost 75 percent of its advertising – it ran out of cash. Over $1 million has been lost on this venture since 2006. No money had been taken out of the business.”
Ironically, the fall of the newspaper came following the period that began with the unrest that resulted in former regime's fall, in which Egyptian media emerged as more outspoken and insightful than it had been during the Mubarak years. The increasing outspokenness of the press was seen as an important element in uniting the masses to overthrow the regime when advocates for regime change found a voice in organs previously suppressed or controlled by the government.
But some say that the nationalism advocated by the rising Islamist parties made many Egyptians skittish about relying on non-Arabic sources.
Malky joined Daily News Egypt in 2006 and became its managing editor a year later. It employed a staff of four when it began but grew to a team of 20 at its peak. It still had a staff of 15 – the majority of them women – when it folded.
In 2008-2009, the paper was printing 10,000 copies daily, but recent press runs numbered as few as 3,000 copies. The paper was also distributed as a supplement in The International Herald Tribune, a global daily newspaper published by The New York Times.
Daily News Egypt was launched by a group of Egyptian investors led by Taher Helmy, a prominent lawyer. According to management, the newspaper was showing a monthly loss of about 150,000 Egyptian pounds (about $25,000) a month since last year's uprising began.
Demerdash, of the investment group, said he is still holding out for a slim chance that the newspaper would be able to continue to publishing.