The ongoing war in Yemen has pushed National Yemen newspaper (NYN) to a complete stop after losing all options to keep its weekly print alive. Like thousands of local organizations of all shapes and sizes, NYN regretfully announces the closure of its office in Sana’a after nine months of deadly struggle to stay in touch with its audience and inform its readers.
As of June 24th, the team of NYN had come together in the office for a different mission, not just the daily mission of reporting, but debating improvement and how to keep writing news stories. It was not easy to tell someone to pick up their personal and professional documents because the office is closing, to come experience their last working day, to gaze into the four corners of their office, to pick up their history and hide it somewhere, to erases the memories of your challenges and achievements.
It is not easy to see five years of struggles and a great record just ending like this. As the editor-in-chief and the publisher of NYN, I preferred to escape the pain of dismantling the office furniture as I did not plan for such time. Honestly speaking, I would have preferred if the office was shelled over night by the Saudi coalition or forcefully closed by Houthi militants or Saleh. Either scenario would be lighter for me than the sad scene of closing the paper due to something that I am not a part of.
I have tried all ways to avoid this end. I have conducted and counseled all friends whom I know would help generate different ideas for NYN’s survival. I applied for online fundraising through Indiegogo, the largest global site for fundraisers. I even paid $190 for a third party online company to run the campaign and promote the project through its international database of groups and individuals. Unfortunately, the results were disappointing and we raised only $50 in two months, $20 of which was donated by a friend of mine in the USA.
I am extremely sad, not just because of closing the office of NYN, but for paying the price for being independent and neutral and seeing how people and groups will not stand by you because of your professional beliefs.
Tears were not enough, but were good for souvenirs. I had no choice but to shed tears when one of my outstanding female journalists Asma’a Al-Mahatwari tried to update me with pictures of the closing process via WhatsApp, which are to be published within this report.
The fact is that the current crisis in Yemen is not only a humanitarian crisis as international NGOs or international journalists have declared, but it is also a development crisis. Livelihood opportunities and economic activities have come to a standstill, often with irreversible losses. The National Yemen case is not unique in the deep suffering of this war-torn country.
Even the idea of restoration that might or might not come will not bring back the broken hearts, broken desks, and the loss of some our work. I could write a much better story of another collapsing organization, but not my own, though I am still considering my next move for the paper despite the war. This way of thinking gives me a little hope to one day recover.
Thanks to all the NYN team who faced the last three months challenges, leaving their personal problems behind to create a history and to report the facts. National Yemen’s first issue was produced in a challenging atmosphere and now it is closing its office in another challenging time, after it failed to pay its rent and cover operational expenses.
The pictures here can tell a better story than a thousand words. Yet I still have hope that we can someday resume our business.
The story of NYN is inspiring for those who know the actual beginning of the newspaper and for those who have joined it only for few months and moved somewhere else. It is an individual media firm, but it has performed according to international press standards, keeping the ethics of journalism ahead of all personal and professional interests.
I have invested all my time to build up an ideal core of working journalism ethics but the economic difficulties, the shortages of business advertising, and the ongoing political crises has led to today’s result. Just a little unconditional funding could change a lot if it comes.