The World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), a Franco-German organization comprising 18,000 publications in more than 120 countries, today called off its World Newspaper Congress in Beirut, Lebanon, because the newspaper scheduled to host the event failed to “meet its financial commitments.”
The event was supposed to take place from June 7-10. Says WAN-IFRA, in a somewhat testy press release:
The local host, the An-Nahar newspaper, has just informed WAN-IFRA that it was unable to provide the agreed funds to meet their obligations, in the aftermath of the 2009 financial, economic and political crisis in the region. The cost of the venue, security and other local expenses was estimated to be 1.6 million Euros and could not be covered by registration fees alone.
“It is with immense disappointment that we are forced to call off our events in Beirut, but it was simply impossible to go ahead without the commitment of our Lebanese colleagues, who were responsible for security and other significant infrastructural and service expenses,” said WAN-IFRA president Gavin O’Reilly in the announcement.
In response to the debacle, the World Association of Newspapers has rescheduled its World Editors Forum until October 6-8 and moved it to Hamburg, Germany. This will prove an inconvenience for hundreds of newspaper people:
Some 700 people were already registered for the Beirut events, which was on target to reach the expected level of at least 1,000 publishers, CEOs, chief editors, managing directors and other senior newspaper executives.
Several events on the docket for the World Newspaper Conference, including the Golden Pen of Freedom presentation and World Press Trends update, will take place at the IFRA Expo in Hamburg this October. Media CEOs must be furious with An-Nahar; their Levantine dreams have been replaced with visions of boring old Hamburg.