04 April 2005
Readership & Circulation:
Younger Generation Supports Open Minded Newspaper in Algeria

In the year 2000, Al Fadjr, an Arab-language daily, hit the Algerian news stands. Appealing to the younger generation and offering balanced news, the newspaper has benefited from steady growth since its launch 5 years ago. APN spoke to Hadda Hazem, publisher of the newspaper. The interview was run on 4 April 2005.

APN: What made you chose Arabic over French as the language of your newspaper?
Hadda Hazem: In Algeria today more people speak Arabic than French, especially the young people because of the stronger presence of an Arabic culture in the school system for the past two decades. There is a lack of moderate voices in the Arabic-language press due to a predominance of media that condemns integration and encouraging Islamic fundamentalism, which, in my view, is one of the origins of the terrorism that has caused the bloody fights which have paralyzed the country for years. This is why we decided to publish a daily in Arabic that preaches modernism, openness towards other cultures and condemns fundamentalism and terrorism.

APN: Al Fadjr has been on the market for five years now: what factors have contributed to your success?
Hadda Hazem: Al Fadjr is a truly independent newspaper with regards to financial control from advertisers. It freely criticizes the government and power networks in place. The seriousness of our young staff and the subjects we choose to treat gives us credibility. At the same time, we try to apply a code of ethics to achieve maximum professionalism in order to maintain a reputation of being a serious newspaper, with rich, varying content. This has resulted in a good reputation among our readers and on the professional market.

APN: Which marketing strategies have you adopted in order to attract new readers?
Hadda Hazem: On a daily basis we try to attract new readers simply through the credibility and seriousness of our newspaper. We aim to provide information, offering only limited amounts of commentary. We are focusing more and more on social problems, such as the school system, and the trauma inflicted upon the population by terrorism. We also give space to woman’s issues. Al Fadjr has a business section and covers domestic and international news, while also reporting on the lesser-developed parts of the country. Most of all, the newspaper addresses the concerns of the younger generation.

APN: How large is your marketing and publicity department?
Hadda Hazem: There are three employees in the department, not counting myself. I always try to provide another perspective – the one of a woman - which I have to justify constantly. It is not obvious to most of my contacts why a publication that shows interest in issues that concern women does not necessarily have to be a magazine.

APN: Does your newspaper contain a lot of publicity?
Hadda Hazem: We only get enough advertisement to balance our financial needs, but it is far from the normal percentage of revenue that should come from advertising. I rely on my personal contacts to convince prospective advertisers to invest in an Arabic newspaper that pursues a moderate policy in Algeria.

APN: Is your circulation based on subscriptions or news stand sales?
Hadda Hazem: Out of the two, we profit mainly from news stand sales. Apart from that, the web edition of our newspaper is well-visited (on average 12,000 visitors per day) and some of the web stories are even taken up by Arabic radio and TV stations such as Al-Jazeera and Al-Alam (Iranian).

What do you consider the main challenges in today’s newspaper market in Algeria?
Hadda Hazem: That’s a big question. The first challenge is to retain your presence and freedom. I think Algerian journalists need to become more professional, and try to define basic rules for their profession, which is today completely disorganized. This is due to an of an absence of uniform rules, which puts the press in a very disadvantageous position since the government uses the errors of the media as a weapon against freedom of expression. To define codes would help the independent newspapers to succeed in their goal to join forces against the oppression of press freedom in Algeria.