News agencies

The main Lebanese news agency is the state-owned National News Agency . Founded in 1961 and now located in the Ministry of Information building in central Hamra Street, the Nna has dozens of reporters in Beirut and other regions, from the northern borders with Syria to the southern Blue Line of demarcation with Israel, from the Mediterranean coast to the eastern fields of the Beqaa Valley. In the last years, its Arabic website has improved in terms of accessibility and frequency of update of the news, whilst its French and English versions are not updated with the same pace of the Arabic page. After few days since the outbreak of the protest in October 2019, the NNA Director-General Laure Sleiman was fired after having held her position for 11 years. Sleiman, allegedly fired for having decided to cover the protests, was replaced by Ziad Harfouche, sub-editor at An-Nahar newspaper and affiliated to the Free Patriotic Movement, President Michel Aoun’s party. The decision, adopted by the former minister of Information Jamal Jarrah, hit the public opinion by surprise, as Mrs. Sleiman had a brilliant career and was a respected journalist, winner of international awards and advocate for women empowerment and inclusion in Lebanon. The episode occurred a couple of weeks before the resignation of the Hariri government, and it is another demonstration of the constant involvement of political factions within the media. The replacement of Laure Sleimani with a supporter of the government, shows a precise intention of safeguarding the élite’s interests and assuring a control over the broadcast information.

Another local news service is the private and more modest Central News Agency (Wikalat al-anba’ al-markaziyya), better known as Al-Markaziyya. Created in 1983 and directed by the Pierre Abi Aql, it has the ambition to compete with the Nna in the local market, but does not seem to have the same penetration in the Lebanese territories.

On the other hand, political, economic, social and cultural features published by the Arabic services of Reuters, Agence France Presse (AFP), Associated Presse (AP), Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) and the Spanish news agency EFE usually find considerable space in Lebanese media outlets, as do their “bulletins” (breaking news), which are often quoted by the local TVs, radios and news web sites.