Lebanon newspaper goes blank to protest political crisis

An-Nahar's chief executive Nayla Tueni holds a blank edition of an-Nahar newspaper during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon October 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Lebanon newspaper goes blank to protest political crisis

  • An-Nahar, which was founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print
  • Despite more than five months of wrangling, premier-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new government

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s oldest newspaper An-Nahar went out to newsstands completely blank on Thursday to protest a political deadlock and economic woes in the tiny Mediterranean country.
Despite more than five months of wrangling, premier-designate Saad Hariri has been unable to form a new government, putting a precious $11-billion aid package at risk.
An-Nahar, which was founded in 1933, published eight blank pages in print and linkless white boxes on its main page online, posting headlines but no news items.
“People are tired and An-Nahar is tired of writing up your pretexts and repeated empty promises,” editor-in-chief Nayla Al-Tueni said at a press conference in Beirut.
“God knows how long we will wait to see” a decision on a cabinet line-up, she said.
A new government would be able to sign off on billions of dollars in aid pledged at a conference in April, notably to help boost the country’s ailing infrastructure.
But political parties in the small multi-confessional country have been locked in dispute over the makeup of a future cabinet.
“The situation is no longer bearable,” Tueni said, adding, however, that the newspaper was not taking sides in the ongoing wrangling.
The blank issue aimed to express “our deep moral sense of responsibility as a press institution over the disastrous state of the country,” she said.
Economic growth in Lebanon has plummeted in the wake of a series of political crises, compounded by the war since 2011 in neighboring Syria.
An-Nahar has faced financial difficulties in recent years, while other landmark newspapers have shuttered.
Successive governments in Lebanon have been unable to address a waste management crisis, or improve an electricity grid that causes daily power cuts.
In recent days, Lebanese have complained of wastewater arriving in their taps at home, with activists sharing images on social media of vegetables soaking in murky water.
The tiny country, which weathered its own civil war from 1975 to 1990, has a multi-confessional system of government that seeks to represent all religious sects.


Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

Updated 22 February 2019
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Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

  • A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids
  • YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Several companies, including AT&T and Nestle, are pulling advertisements from YouTube over concerns about inappropriate comments on videos of children.
A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids. The comments reportedly included timestamps that showed where kids innocently bared body parts.
YouTube says it disabled comments on tens of millions of videos and deleted offending accounts and channels.
Nestle and Fortnite maker Epic Games say they paused ads on YouTube while the company works on the issue. AT&T says it has removed ads until YouTube can “protect our brand from offensive content of any kind.”
YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017. Since then YouTube has made efforts to be more transparent about how it deals with offensive comments and videos on its site.
But the latest flap shows how much of an ongoing problem offensive content continues to be, said eMarketer video analyst Paul Verna.
“When you think about the scope of that platform and what they’re up against, it is really like a game of whack-a-mole to try to prevent these problems from happening,” he said.
Still, because of the powerful advertising reach of YouTube’s parent Google, brands are unlikely to stay away from YouTube for long, he said.
Digital ad spending in the US is expected to grow 19 percent in 2019 to $129.34 billion this year, or 54 percent of estimated total US ad spending, according to eMarketer, with Google and Facebook accounting for nearly 60 percent of that total.
“At the end of the day, there’s a duopoly out there of Google and Facebook,” for digital advertising, he said. “Any brand that doesn’t play the game with either is potentially leaving a big marketing opportunity on the table.”