Lebanon's Daily Star latest casualty of economic crisis

The Daily Star is the latest media outlet linked to former prime minister Saad Hariri to be struggling as the country's press collapses amid an economic downturn.

BEIRUT - Lebanon's only English-language newspaper suspended its print edition Tuesday, the latest casualty in the collapse of the country's once-flourishing press.

The Daily Star, which is co-owned by the family of former prime minister Saad Hariri, said on its website the temporary halt of the printing presses was a result of the economic downturn.

It cited "the financial challenges facing the Lebanese press which have been exacerbated by the deterioration of the economic situation in the country."

It said the temporary suspension came after "a drop to virtually no advertising revenue in the last quarter of 2019, as well as in January of this year".

The Daily Star said its website and social media platforms would continue work as usual "to offer first-rate news coverage and content from Lebanon, the Middle East and beyond."

In recent months, employees at the newspaper had complained of not being paid, with one departing journalist reporting in December that some were owed up to half a year in wages.

A series of prominent dailies in Lebanon have disappeared from print due to funding shortages in recent years and difficulty competing with digital media. 

In 2017, Lebanon's leading daily As-Safir went out of print after 42 years of publication while another daily Al-Anwar closed down a year later.

Days before The Daily Star announced the print suspension, Radio One, a popular music radio station, went off the air after 37 years as a result of the country's economic crisis.

The Daily Star is the latest media outlet linked to former premier Hariri to be struggling. In September last year, Hariri announced the suspension of Future TV, his ailing mouthpiece whose employees had been on strike over unpaid wages.

In January 2019, the Hariri family's Al-Mustaqbal newspaper issued its last print version, 20 years after it was established.

Saudi Oger, a once-mighty construction firm that was the basis of the Hariri business empire, collapsed in 2017, leaving thousands jobless.

Hariri stepped down as prime minister in late October following unprecedented nationwide protests. The tiny Mediterranean country is in the midst of a crippling economic and financial crisis, the worst since the end of Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.

The situation has deteriorated further since Oct. 17, when the protests erupted against the political elite blamed for decades of corruption and mismanagement.

Last year, The Daily Star published a newsless black issue to protest the political and economic crises gripping the country.

The economic crisis has since deteriorated, and been compounded by a financial crunch.

The Daily Star was founded in 1952 by Kamel Mroue, then owner and editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab Al-Hayat daily newspaper.

It closed for more than a decade during the 1975-1990 civil war, returning to news stands in 1996.

The newspaper was bought by businessmen close to Hariri in 2010.