By NY Staff
Printed press faces a huge challenge during Ramadan due to a lack of popular interest in printed media and a general preference for reading the Holy Quran and other religious books. Paper media suffers serious financial losses in this period as sales decline considerably, placing limitations on the ability of newspapers to pay employee salaries and cover printing costs. In order to face these challenges, owners of newspapers tend to reduce the number of printed issues during the month as well as the number of pages in each issue. Some agencies include supplements featuring religious, historical and thought-provoking content. Others organize competitions complete with daily prizes.
Journalists explain the unpopularity of newspapers during Ramadan in the context o the holy month itself. Ramadan is a chance for journalists to take a rest from the political conflicts they witness during the rest of the year. Journalist Azzoz Al-Samei’e, who writes regularly for Al-Jomhoria Newspaper, says that diminished newspaper sales are a product of readers’ desires as well as the psychological situation induced by hunger during the day. “The choices newspapers provide are limited, but they can improve their readership by publishing various supplements, including foods and recipes,” he suggested.
Recent reports showed comparatively low rates of newspaper purchase, which affects the financial status of the newspaper owners. This decrease is compounded by the loss of ad revenue to television stations, who increase their airing of commercials during Ramadan. Additionally, the spread of private channels will also exacerbate the suffering of printed press. Sport journalism suffers, as stated by Ali Al-Hamly, Editor in Chief of Al-Riada weekly newspaper. “We have to reduce the number of pages as well as the amount of printed issues but can never stop publishing during Ramadan,” he explained. Al-Riada fights the Ramadan slump through annual competitions intended to attract readers to buy the newspaper.
Similarly, store-owners suffer their own recession during Ramadan and share the loss with newspapers. The owner of Al-Yamamh Library, a newspaper and magazine store, says he can barely cover his rent and personal expenses during Ramadan due to low consumer interest. Al-Yamamh is forced to develop alternative product lines just to attract customers.
Readers also have their choices, states Fares Al-Shairy. Ramadan’s particular circumstances lower the reading of newspapers against people’s other priorities. “My activities during daytime include reading the Quran and other books and watching T.V programs at night while chewing qat,” he noted.