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Curtain falls on the Daily News Egypt.

April 23, 2012

I am certainly not worried about the Daily News Egypt journalists: they are an exceptionally talented group of people, and for them, the sky is the limit.

I am however sad for the disappearance of an excellent newspaper. While it is indeed an English-speaking newspaper, one of two in print (the other one is state-owned and not worth mentioning), It is erroneous to pigeonhole it as such. It is one of the best newspapers around and its website is one of my main sources of information about what goes on in Egypt.

The final op-ed (read it here) is unsettling. It doesn’t read like what you’d expect of a farewell. It reads like a disbelieving goodbye, with an underlying pleading defiance. In a way, very telling of what the office must’ve been like in its final days – seemingly futile negotiations with the management. We have known for a few months now that the newspaper was taking on water, and that potential investors were difficult.

There have been talks about following the route of many publications (most famously, the Christian Science Monitor) to kill the print edition while maintaining and updating the online content.

I would love that, but I doubt that would be a successful solution. I doubt the savings from printing its small number of daily copies will be sufficient to stop the bleeding. And while the CSM has also slashed correspondents expenses to survive, the DNE is already on a shoestring budget, functioning with a small staff and often relying on freelancers and wire services.

While much has been said of the financiers of the paper, I know that some of them tried their very best to keep the newspaper afloat. Angry as we may be because they were the ones to sign the newspaper’s death certificate, let’s not lay all the blame to their feet. Media was never a lucrative business, especially in a foreign language.

Unless an investor injects much needed liquidity in the newspaper, only a static website will remain. As the time of writing even that is not available – the website was taken offline. But both readers and journalists hope it will be back online soon, if only to safe-keep seven years of outstanding reporting.

As for my phenomenal DNE friends – particularly Sarah El Sirgany, Amira Salah, Rania El Malky, and Heba El Kayal – my most sincere wishes of success. Of luck, you don’t need. We’ll be reading you.

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