Yemen Uprising Leaves Critical Newspaper Struggling to Survive Revolution By: Nadia Al-Sakkaf
Yemen’s revolution has given voice to independent journalists, but advertisers are steering clear of the Yemen Times and other media critically reporting on the government.
“I don’t know if we’ll survive,” Yemen Times Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Nadia al-Sakkaf told the IWMF. “Advertising is down 70 percent, and I’m letting people go. If we don’t find a solution, it’s a matter of weeks or months before we close. We survived political oppression and now this.”
Al-Sakkaf – a Yemen delegate to IWMF’s International Women Media Leaders Conference in March — has been forced to slash the staff by 50 percent, leaving her with six women and six men to cover the unfolding revolution. “My reporters are risking their lives to cover these stories, and I can’t even cover their health insurance. They are on their own,” she said. “Our bravest reporter is a woman covering security –Shatha Al-Harazi, our hero.”
With power outages two or three times a day for several hours, producing the 7,000 circulation newspaper has been difficult, she said. “We have a generator so when it goes out we try that, “she said. “The revolution is wearing us down – it’s like being in labor for a very long time. We’re tired and hurting. The reporters are tense going out. We’ve had phone and e-mail threats and one reporter was arrested covering the protests. So far the Yemen Times hasn’t been targeted. ”
Al-Sakkaf lost her last copy editor for her twice-weekly newspaper, and is searching for English-speaking editors to help fill the void and volunteer to edit news stories from afar on the web. Journalists interested in helping to edit Yemen Times reporters’ stories, donating to the 20-year-old newspaper or writing a story about the struggles, can reach Al-Sakkaf at firstname.lastname@example.org. The online edition is http://yementimes.com/ and Yemen Times is on Twitter.
“One day my 5-year-old daughter came home scared and crying, ‘We have to shut down the doors and windows – they are going to kill us.’ How can you explain that the masses are not there to kill her but to demand the end to the regime?”