2024: L'Orient-Le Jour celebrates its centenary... and prepares for the future

Dear readers,

As you already know, this year marks our centenary. It is not every day that a newspaper celebrates such an anniversary, especially in a country and region as troubled as ours. Despite the wars, despite the political upheavals, despite the hardships of economic crises, we have remained, we have persevered and above all, we have maintained our independence. L'Orient-Le Jour is thus a witness to a particularly rich and eventful century, from the birth of Lebanon in the 1920s, to today, as our country struggles and fights, again and again, in the face of regional turmoil. If the celebration of our centenary is an opportunity to reflect on our past, in its finest moments, it also offers an opportunity to look to the future. And it is this future that we want to talk to you about today, by taking stock of our activities, as we do every year.

L'Orient-Le Jour, a fully fledged digital media outlet

It is a fact that L'Orient-Le Jour has now fully entered the digital age. First, by developing a fully fledged video service, which now publishes several dozen pieces of content per month: field reports, analyses and interviews, such as the one with former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, or the recent one with Ghassan and Léa Salamé, published as part of a podcast for our journal's centenary. Secondly, by establishing a strong presence on all social networks, where L'Orient-Le Jour and its English-language counterpart, L'Orient Today, are active on six platforms and 12 different accounts (one for each language). And finally, and most importantly, by transitioning our entire editorial team to real-time digital journalism, as we publish news, analyses, explainers and interviews, in both written and video formats, continuously throughout the day, while also maintaining a permanent watch on "hot" current affairs topics.

During the major earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023, which was strongly felt in Lebanon, we immediately dispatched a team of journalists to the affected areas to report, write articles and collect videos showing the extent of the disaster. Similarly, we maintain continuous coverage of the situation in Gaza and southern Lebanon (and its repercussions in the Red Sea, Yemen and elsewhere) through a dedicated "live" section on our website, open since Oct. 7, 2023, and constantly updated. L'Orient-Le Jour is thus no longer just a newspaper but has become a fully fledged media outlet, offering a variety of formats. The website is constantly evolving, allowing everyone to find new information, analysis and articles in all sections throughout the day. These changes would not have been possible without the constant efforts of journalists and the editorial team to successfully carry out our digital transition and fully embrace the era of the web and real-time publishing.

Impact of the war in Gaza and South Lebanon on our readership (unique visitors)

The challenge of a new economic model

Nevertheless, the newspaper has not been spared difficulties. Some of these are common to all media worldwide, such as the decline in advertising revenue due to changes in the market, or the competition from digital giants (search engines, social networks). Users of search engines or social networks (who are also our readers) might therefore be tempted to directly seek information on these channels or on news aggregators, thus constituting a significant competition for "traditional" media.

Some have even openly raised this question: are newspapers — that is, "traditional" media — still necessary today? While it is difficult to speak about oneself, our answer is clear: we strongly believe in the necessity of media, especially independent media. Both for their ability to provide credible information (as opposed to the "fake news" that abounds on the web), for their ability to offer quality analysis (without superficiality or biased or politicized preconceptions), and for their original and differentiated content that readers cannot find elsewhere (exclusive interviews, in-depth investigations and reports on sensitive subjects, expert opinions and contributions, cultural content, quality reporting on heritage, especially Lebanese, in its artistic, historical, architectural, culinary expressions...). Independent media also remain essential to embody the diversity and richness of viewpoints, an essential element of democracy.

Other difficulties are directly linked to the consequences of the economic collapse of 2019, which hit the entire Lebanese media sector hard. The consequence for L'Orient-Le Jour was to force us to completely reinvent ourselves and lay the foundations for a new economic model. While the print newspaper remains more present than ever and continues to be profitable (while also being, for us, an irreplaceable symbol and standard-bearer), future development lies in diversifying revenues, notably through digital subscriptions, a pillar of growth, as well as partnerships with the private or institutional sector.

The diaspora, more present than ever

The diaspora also remains a central pillar of our development. It currently constitutes 80 percent of L'Orient-Le Jour's and L'Orient Today's digital readership, accounting for approximately 50 percent of total digital subscriptions. There is significant potential for development within the diaspora, which is highly interested in Lebanon and wishes to maintain ties with the country, as evidenced by audience figures. We are thus working to continue expanding the newspaper by publishing diverse content, and notably increasing the number of "explainer" contents, both written and multimedia, that provide a clear and concise overview, allowing readers, especially those in the diaspora, to quickly grasp the issues. This is without forgetting our readers based in Lebanon, who read us in both digital and print formats.

L'Orient Today continues its development

English is also a key dimension of our development, both in Lebanon and in the diaspora. That is why, in 2020, we launched L'Orient Today, which embodies both L'Orient-Le Jour's presence in the English-speaking world while maintaining its own personality and specific audience. It continues to develop, facing strong competition from Middle Eastern and international media, which often have significant resources. However, L'Orient Today has a strength and specificity: that of embodying a Lebanese, independent, credible, English-speaking voice that provides quality content, both written and multimedia, for all audiences, especially the youth. Our media aims to be a trusted source for its audience; that is its DNA. It continues its development with a solid subscriber base and an expanding readership. Each notable event or news in Lebanon or the region thus leads to a real explosion in its audience.

Faith in the Future

Today, Lebanon and the Middle East are going through a very difficult phase following the war in Gaza and southern Lebanon and their repercussions. The Lebanese people are suffering, especially the inhabitants of the south, who endure human and material losses day after day. The rest of the country lives in fear of a deterioration of events and their potential consequences. In addition to the economic repercussions, Lebanon, which is desperately trying to emerge from the crisis it sank into in 2019, does not need a security crisis on top of it.

In the face of this situation, it is tempting to succumb to despair. Yet we maintain faith, in the country and in the future. We must, first and foremost, because the opposite would be resignation, and that we cannot accept. Lebanon is worth it, and it can give so much if we keep hope alive. As a media outlet, we believe that now, more than ever, is the time to continue the fight: to defend our values, national and human, those that define this country. To fight to prepare the future of our newspaper, so that it remains one of the standard-bearers of this Lebanon in which we believe more than ever. And this is thanks to our first supporters, our subscribers, and our loyal readers. Thanks to you, who read us. Today, we want to thank you for your support and loyalty.

The management committee of the L'Orient-Le Jour / L'Orient Today group:

Nayla de Freige, CEO

Fouad Khoury Helou, Executive Director

Elie Fayad, Editor-in-Chief

Anthony Samrani, Editor-in-Chief

Emilie Sueur, Director of Digital Development

Nicole Karkour, Marketing Director

Dear readers,As you already know, this year marks our centenary. It is not every day that a newspaper celebrates such an anniversary, especially in a country and region as troubled as ours. Despite the wars, despite the political upheavals, despite the hardships of economic crises, we have remained, we have persevered and above all, we have maintained our independence. L'Orient-Le Jour is thus a...