Egypt Independent, an excellent publication we have grown to rely on and have written about before, has been shut down by its parent company, Al Masry Al Youm, and its new CEO, Abdel Moneim Said. (Mr. Said was a member the NDP Policies Secretariat and one of the brains behind the Gamal Mubarak project; he became CEO of state flagship Al Ahram in the last year before Mubarak's ouster. The last time I interviewed him, he was facing an insurrection from some of his own journalists and was soon to lose his job for his support of the Mubarak regime -- here is an old column of his defending the fraudulent 2010 parliamentary elections).
While this is a difficult economic climate for the press and while Egypt Independent may very well have been running deficits, the Al Masry Al Youm administration seems to have been very uninterested in the many different proposals to keep the online version, at least, running, until new investors could be found. In fact it's not clear if the journalists who have put in four years of hard work will have any access to the name and archive they built. And they were not allowed to print a final, 50th edition of the paper that reflected critically on its own history, experience, and relationship with its mother company.
The team at Egypt Independent is regrouping and hopes to launch a new publication as soon as possible. Make sure to get your subscription money back form Al Masry Al Youm (call 16533) so we can give it to them instead when they're ready. And you can follow them on Facebook for updates.
In a media landscape that is extremely polarized -- where different political and business interests support media outlets as a way to further their agendas -- Egypt Independent was that rarity, a professional independent outlet that asked uncomfortable questions.
But what's happened to them -- and I really encourage you to read their final issue, which delves into all the challenges facing independent media in Egypt today -- is not unique. The Daily News Egypt closed earlier this year, only to open under new (and, to believe this recent article, troubling) management. Al Ahram Online's beloved editor, Hany Shukrallah, was sacked recently. All this at a time when Egypt needs unbiased and ground-breaking local coverage more than ever.