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Ad-Dustour chairman, five board members resign

By Mohammad Ghazal - Apr 06,2015 - Last updated at Apr 06,2015

AMMAN — Ad-Dustour daily’s chairman and five board members resigned Monday as journalists at the financially troubled newspaper called for immediate intervention to “save” it.

Tayseer Smadi, the chairman of the Jordan Press and Publishing Company, said he resigned along with five other board members in protest against the “behaviour” of some employees who threatened to remove the newspaper’s director general, Ismael Zaghlol, from his office and said he was banned from entering Ad-Dustour premises.

“These threats prompted Zaghloul to resign and my resignation is in protest against these acts and threats. I don’t want to be a chairman of an institution whose director general is treated this way,” Smadi told The Jordan Times.

Noting that the government has showed some positive response in addressing the Arabic daily’s financial problems, the senator said the issue needs some time and journalists should have been patient. 

Established in 1967, the newspaper has around 400 employees.

The state-owned Social Security Investment Fund owns nearly 30 per cent of the company that publishes Ad-Dustour, while the Jordan Engineers Association owns 18 per cent and the newspaper’s employee fund owns 5 per cent. Other shares are owned by private shareholders.

Ad-Dustour journalists said they have not received their salaries for the past four months.

“We had several meetings with the board but to no avail. They forced us to resort to demonstrating. I have not received my salary for four months. What do they expect? The situation is intolerable,” Lama Abseh, deputy managing editor at the daily, told The Jordan Times.

“How long are we supposed to wait? We have financial obligations that we cannot meet anymore… the board asked the journalists several times to help bring advertisements to the newspaper and to promote its printing press. This is not our job and it is unprofessional,” said Abseh.

According to journalists at the daily, some 200 employees at the newspaper were laid off as part of a restructuring plan, but it did not reflect positively on the rest of the employees.

The staff urged the government to avert the newspaper’s collapse.

“The government appoints board members and other management staff members. It should appoint people with deep knowledge of the media business and those who can increase productivity and generate revenue for the newspaper,” Awni Daoud, managing editor of the paper’s economic section, told The Jordan Times.

Ad-Dustour daily generates some JD8 million annually, he said.

“The problem is with management. It is true that the print media faces challenges, but with good marketing and well-studied plans there is a way to increase revenue and safeguard employees’ rights,” said Daoud.

“We need a plan to rescue the newspaper, but at the same time we need a highly qualified management team to address the situation,” he added.

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