Launching L’Orient Today: independent journalism at a critical juncture for Lebanon

Journalism matters for Lebanon, now more than ever. Driven by this burning conviction, we are proudly announcing the launch of L’Orient Today, accessible now at www.lorient.today. 

 

After nearly a century of telling the news in French, we’ve decided to open up and expand into English with this sister publication to L’Orient-Le Jour, while keeping at the forefront our historic values: defending freedom, openness and tolerance; demanding transparency and accountability; promoting equality and human rights; caring for society’s weakest; and strengthening the ties between Lebanon, its diaspora and the world.

 

Our country is going through historic changes that could jeopardize its mere existence. A year ago, Lebanon was rocked by major protests, the thawra, against a failed elite.The people unleashed their discontent as Lebanon’s dying economic system began its collapse. Shedding partisan identities, citizens took to the streets in a powerful rebuke against the sectarian order. This long-awaited reawakening created an immense need for credible journalism for Lebanese at home and abroad, who clung to their smartphone screens trying to follow and understand the situation. This ongoing economic downfall and the tragedy of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion has pushed thousands of citizens to emigrate and thrown an already fragile media ecosystem into turmoil, reducing the diversity of sources to the bare — and insufficient — minimum.

 

Today we are lacking information, points of view and critical but constructive thinking to help figure out how to tackle the challenges the country is facing. In this exceptional environment, L’Orient Today will provide hard-hitting coverage of politics, society and the economy, but will also go beyond that, aiming to tell readers what is driving the news. Our journalistic goal will not be achieved solely by covering facts made public, but also by uncovering realities that matter for the public good. Holding power to account will be one of our most vital tasks, buttressed by our staunch commitment to fact-checking and verification, and embodied in our slogan: “Speak truth to power.” News will be the core of our work, yet opinion will be crucial too, and so we intend to offer expert insight and a variety of perspectives to our readers.

 

L’Orient Today will abide by a fundamental rule that applies to the entire OLJ group: editorial independence and the full empowerment of the newsroom. Although we feel the need to expand our offerings and spread our values through this new medium, launching an English language edition obviously does not affect our historical attachment to French, which we’ve been writing in for the last 96 years and will keep doing for as long as L’Orient-Le Jour exists.

 

L’Orient-Le Jour’s long-term goal is to write a new chapter in the Middle Eastern media landscape. At a time where most of the news outlets are either politically controlled or facing financial difficulties, our objective is to build a media group that is both independent and sustainable. As ambitious as this might be, we feel this is something we owe to Beirut, given what our capital used to stand for in the Arab press.

 

There is no doubt that the image we will paint of Lebanon in the coming years will be mostly grim. We pledge nonetheless to try to give you hope about Lebanon’s future. Read us – we’ve lifted the paywall for a start -, share your feedback and, if you enjoy our work, subscribe to join our community. Lebanon needs journalism, and journalism needs you.

 

Nayla de Freige, Chairperson, L’Orient-Le Jour

Michel Helou, Executive Director, L’Orient-Le Jour

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