Egypt Independent announced on Thursday that it would close down. The editorial team was informed by Al-Masry Media Corporation that the print and online news operation would end after four years of publishing, during which it became a unique voice on the Egyptian media scene.
In a statement the editorial team explains that they felt they owed it to their readers to put together a closing edition, due to be published on 25 April, explaining why a “a strong voice of independent and progressive journalism in Egypt is being terminated.”
However, the edition never saw the light of day. The issue was instead published online.
Your Middle East asked Egypt Independent’s editor Lina Attalah to clarify the reasons behind the shutdown, why the last issue wasn’t published and if there is any future for Egypt Independent.
Can you please tell us why Egypt Independent has been forced to shut down?
“The management has cited financial and economic reasons for the closure. But the paradox is that the financial problems are a product of bad management and lack of media development plans, which is the job of the very people who are closing the operation today. Egypt Independent is a very popular English language news website and print and we tested it ourselves when we tried to generate revenues in an attempt to save the paper from closure.
When we did what the management failed to do, we saw how much potential this paper has. But we were cut off before we could continue trying. And this leads us to the depth of their logic behind the closure, which is more political than financial. The institution can no longer grapple with young revolutionary voices within its ranks. It wants to centralize the narrative under the helm of the Arabic edition, which is far less progressive, under the pretext of convergence.”
You prepared a last issue that would have come out on the 25th of April, why couldn't you publish it?
“The edition had a strong institutional critique of what led to our closure. It is also a reflection of the bigger challenges facing media in Egypt by and large. We found out that the management has looked at the edition before it went to print and while the print house was readying itself to doing the routine print, it got orders from the management to halt the printing process. A conversation later with one of the owners shows the management's dreading of the content of this final edition as he said clearly how can I be the institution publishing and funding this edition and agree to content bashing it?”
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According to Ahram Online, the leadership at Al-Masry Al-Youm claimed that the last edition was due on April 18, and thus did in fact not cancel the April 25 issue. The Egypt Independent's editorial team responded that management played "on a technicality".
Many on Twitter expressed their concern over journalism in Egypt:
However, Egypt Independent’s last tweet expressed hope for the future:
So we asked Lina, any chance we will be seeing Egypt Independent in the future?
"Egypt Independent will come back reincarnated, in another form, maybe another name. What matters is that the practice and the people behind remain there, together and insistent on continuing what we have started."