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Walid Abboud: Demise of Newsprint But Not of Journalism

“Most of Lebanon’s newspapers have failed to make the transition from newsprint to online journalism adequately, and that is the reason one after the other is closing down,” Walid Abboud told a large audience of students, faculty and guests during a lecture at Azm university on October 25.

The host of the popular MTV political talk show “Bi Mawdouiyah” was a guest lecturer at Azm as part of the Department of Journalism and Media Communication Media Talk series.

Mr. Abboud told attendees that while the popular belief is that written journalism is on the decline, the reality may be just the opposite. “Newsprint may be suffering, but online journalism is thriving.”

In the past, he said, we were able to read only a few number of newspapers, but “today we can read newspapers online from all over the world.” People are equating the demise of newspapers with the demise of journalism, and that, he argued, is a mistake.

The challenge journalists and media institutions face today, he said, is to succeeded in the online world. Journalism schools should prepare their students to meet that challenge.

In the talk, moderated by Azm lecturer and vice-president of the National Audiovisual Council Mr. Ibrahim Awad, Mr. Abboud also offered the audience significant glimpses of the challenges he faces both as a talk show host and editor in chief of the station’s news programs. The most important of those challenges, he said, is to establish your credibility with the television audience.

In a lively exchange with students following his lecture, Mr. Abboud replied to a question about his program being sidelined, now that Marcel Ghanem, formerly of LBC, was joining MTV. “The coming of Marcel Ghanem to MTV offers me an opportunity to pursue a dream of mine,” replied Mr. Abboud, “which is to focus on a weekly program that has more lasting significance than a program that addresses issues of the moment.”

Mr. Abboud said he has reached an agreement with the MTV management to produce such a program and was now embarking on finalizing a first pilot. The first episode of the new program should have already been ready, but “part of the blame for the delay is mine,” he said with a smile. “I have been a little lazy.” But he promised that we will be seeing it on MTV soon.

The Media Talk series at Azm hosts personalities from diverse disciplines. In the past it has hosted actors, movie critics, journalists, directors, and film producers. This semester, prior to Mr. Abboud, the series hosted Mariam Bassam, news editor at New TV.
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