Al Akhbar (Lebanon)
|Editor-in-chief||Ibrahim Al Amine|
|Founded||1938, new version 2006|
Al Akhbar (Arabic: الأخبار, literally "The News") is a daily Arabic language newspaper published in a semi tabloid format in Beirut. It also started an English version published on the Internet. The paper describes itself as independent and progressive, and it supports what it describes as "the Resistance" against Israeli occupation of Palestine and violations of Lebanese territorial integrity. Some Lebanese, U.S., Israeli and Saudi sources have labelled the newspaper pro-Hezbollah.
History and profile
The newspaper started printing and distribution in 2006. It was established by Joseph Samaha and Ibrahim Al Amine. A 2009 survey by Ipsos Stat established that the daily is among the five most popular newspapers in Beirut.
In December 2010, Al Akhbar received and published an advance copy of the US State Department cables by Wikileaks, after which the newspaper's website was hacked. Following this attack, the paper shut down its website for a while. It has since continued to partner with Wikileaks, and translate Arabic cables.
Al Akhbar declares its political orientation as independent and progressive, supporting movements working for independence, freedom, and social justice, and against war and occupation, in Lebanon and around the world. The social justice commitment includes publication of articles and columns advancing women's and gay rights. In his "Comprehensive Guide to Lebanese Media," journalist Deen Sharp describes Al Akhbar as "critical of all Lebanese groups," but "perceived as pro-March 8th," a coalition of political parties in Lebanon that includes Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement.
In 2010 Ibrahim Al Amine, editorial chairman of Al Akhbar, described the founding ambitions of the newspaper: "We wanted the U.S. ambassador to wake up in the morning, read it and get upset.” Responding in a letter to the New York Times, Jeffrey Feltman, who was US ambassador to Lebanon when Al Amine made the remark, wrote that Al Amine "did get my attention, but not in the way he intended. The hilariously erroneous accounts of my activities reported as fact in his newspaper provoked morning belly laughs." Later, in 2013, Al Amine attacked the U.S. as "the main source of policies of oppression, hegemony, and injustice in the world."
Marwan Hamadeh, a member of the 14 March Alliance and a deputy in Lebanon's legislature, and news reports in publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have described Al Akhbar as pro-Hezbollah. Former US ambassador Feltman wrote in early 2011 that Al Akhbar romanticized and never criticized Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The New York Times' Robert Worth wrote in 2010 that the paper "has sometimes criticized Hezbollah in print (though mildly)." In his 2012 and 2013 Al Akhbar English language columns, writer As'ad AbuKhalil criticized both Nasrallah and Hezbollah.
Times journalist Mark Ashurst described the newspaper as having "close links to the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria" .
New York Times journalist Robert Worth in 2010 wrote that Al Akhbar newspaper "has become the most dynamic and daring in Lebanon, and perhaps anywhere in the Arab world." He also criticized the publication for excessive reliance on single sources, and for "news pages that often show a loose mingling of fact, rumor and opinion."
The most prominent contributors in Al Akhbar's early days were Elias Khoury and Joseph Samaha, both leftist intellectuals. More recently, Al Amine, As'ad AbuKhalil, Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and Sharmine Narwani may be the publication's best known names.
Max Blumenthal joined Al Akhbar in late 2011 primarily to write about Israel-Palestine issues and foreign-policy debates in Washington, noting on leaving in mid-2012 in protest of its coverage of the Syrian civil war that it "gave me more latitude than any paper in the United States to write about ... Israel and Palestine". Blumenthal added that Al Akhbar "still remains, in some respects, a valuable publication on a lot of issues, like, for example, the abuse of domestic workers inside Lebanon, which is a plague and very few other publications report on."
Blumenthal left Al Akhbar in June 2012 in protest at Al Akhbar's coverage of the Syrian civil war. In an interview with The Real News he said that "It was too much to have my name and reputation associated with open Assad apologists when the scale of atrocities had become so extreme and when the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar was offering friendly advice to Bashar al-Assad on the website of Al-Akhbar, you know, painting him as this kind of genuine, earnest reformer who just needed to get rid of the bad men around him and cut out some of the rich oligarchs who happened to be his cousins, and then everything would be fine. That was ridiculous." Blumenthal highlighted editorials by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb and Sharmine Narwani. Blumenthal said that Al Akhbar had seen "a major exodus of key staffers at Al-Akhbar over the Syrian issue. ... the conflict over Syria has divided the Lebanese left. And so the debates at Al-Akhbar really reflected the debates inside the Lebanese left. And what it came to [pass] this spring, apparently, was that the pro-Assad faction, which saw him and his regime as an anti-imperialist bulwark, had more or less won out, although some dissident voices remain."
- "Al Akhbar". The Arab Press Network. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "About Us". Al Akbar. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- "Lebanon. Media Landscape". European Journalism Center. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Mapping Digital Media: Lebanon". Open Society Foundations. 15 March 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- Lebanese paper's website attacked over WikiLeaks The Associated Press, 9 December 2010
- "Al-Akhbar newspaper shuts down website following hack attack". The Daily Star. 10 December 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "WikiLeaks publishes 1.7 million "Kissinger Cables"". Al Akhbar. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "Press and Cultural Freedom in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine" (Annual report). SKeyes. 2011. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
- "Forbes Releases Top 50 MENA Online Newspapers; Lebanon Fails to Make Top 10". Jad Aoun. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "On Ziad Rahbani, Al Akhbar, and the Left". Al Akhbar English. 1 January 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- خاص بمناسبة مئويّة اليوم العالمي للمرأة: نصف العالم أنـصاف مواطنات Al Akhbar, 8 March 2010
- ماذا لو كان ابني مثلياً؟ Al Akhbar, 20 June 2009
- A Comprehensive Guide to Lebanese Media Deen Sharp, issuu, 2009
- Worth, Robert F. (29 December 2010). "A Rarity in Its Region, a Lebanese Paper Dares to Provoke". The New York Times. p. 4.
- "Heroic Journalism in Lebanon? Ex-Envoy Disagrees". The New York Times. 9 January 2011. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Hamadeh denounces Al-Akhbar threats against his life". Ya Libnan. 22 January 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Beirut is the new Beirut The Wall Street Journal, 2 December 2010
- Nasrallah on Syria As'ad AbuKhalil, Al Akhbar, 26 July 2012
- Nasrallah’s Speech on Palestine As'ad AbuKhalil, Al Akhbar, 6 August 2013
- Ashurst, Mark M. (11 July 2012). "Purported Minutes Show Assad Skeptical of Annan Peace Plan". The New York Times (Russia; Syria). Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- The Real News, 22 June 2012, Max Blumenthal Resigns Al Akhbar Over Syria Coverage
- Max Blumenthal, maxblumenthal.com, 20 June 2012, The right to resist is universal: A farewell to Al Akhbar and Assad’s apologists