The Maktoob-Yahoo deal: Shame on the Jordanian press that doesn’t understand!!

26/8/2009

After the euphoria of yesterday’s news about Yahoo buying Maktoob for an estimated US$ 85 million, and after seeing the name of this Jordan-made brand on the pages and screens of every major international news outlet, and after the topic “Maktoob” made it to the top 10 topics of Twitter.. I was expecting to see a national celebration on the pages of this morning’s Jordanian newspapers.

Instead, there was almost NOTHING!

The Jordan Times at least had a small one column item on its front page. Al Ghad had a small mention of the story on the front page and a small story inside but NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on the front page of the business section. And forget about Al Rai.. I have not been able to find the news covered there!

On the day Maktoob created one of Jordan’s biggest business success story ever, the front page of Al Ghad’s business section had the boring and depressing headline: “Budget deficit expected to grow to JD 850 million”. Very inspiring indeed. Well, at least the page was full of colorful ads for juice, cooking oil, furniture, home decoration and a bank (you know, the really important stuff).

There was no coverage of the story inside the section! ..

Al Ghad Business section This is unbelievable..

Here is a story of a Jordan-based company, that in 10 years managed to grow to an almost US$ 100 million dollar entity, based entirely on technology and media creation and the effort of Jordanian and Arab minds. Here is a story of a Jordanian brand, attracting one of the biggest global brands as an investor. And all this story gets is this dismal coverage in the local press.

Now just compare the picture above with Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper.

Front page mention and the MAIN STORY on the front of the business section.

Maktoob Yahoo coverage on The National!

Maktoob-Yahoo coverage on The National

I always consider myself a “Jordan optimist”. But stuff like that just breaks something inside me. Jordanian success, started in Jordan, but celebrated and rewarded in Dubai and cheered on in Abu Dhabi.

What kind of attitude does this mainstream press have. They thrive on “budget deficit” news. They just want to write about how expensive meat has become in Ramadan and about the “greedy merchants”. But they fail to inspire today’s and tomorrow’s generations with an amazing Jordanian success story.

This grey-faced depression is pulling us all down. Shame on such press.

21 Comments

  1. Viken says:

    i feel with you man, but after living all these years here in Jordan, you should have expected this.
    that’s why our the most creative , intellectual are leaving the country where their work will get more appreciated.

  2. Tarek says:

    Indeed..

    But yeah just be an optimist and be glad you did your part of spreading the news by posting it to your blog.. Yours was actually the first note of the deal to me; it’s after that I started surfing the web for more news!

    Anyways, the news is the pride and joy of the whole Arab world… Hopefully good things will come from such a deal…

  3. Tom Gara says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more, this should be celebrated as the biggest regional business success story of the year.

    Its just a huge amount of value created purely through talent and brainpower. It takes one kind of skill to make $2.5 billion dollars in eight months, as the Abu Dhabi royal family did earlier this year on its genius Barclays investment.

    But its another skill entirely to do what Maktoob have done, and it seems pretty clear that is the latter which needs to be harnessed on a large scale in the Middle East.

  4. subzero says:

    Well,
    Who still reads newspapers anyway? They present 24-hour older news.

    I think the best journalists out there are online ones. Up to date minute by minute news, thats why journalists in newspapers are such old fashioned they do not realize how big news there are.

    I am sure tomorrow you will find the news on the first page. Talking about copycats, eh?

  5. ahmad azem says:

    thank you ahmad to share your observation with you. great story that i will do my best to follow up it.

  6. Basem says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this piece of news get syndicated the next day in the classic way of translating foreign news covering local stuff that wasn’t covered by local media in the first place. Pathetic…

    you’re quiet right really…. nothing like a cliche’d news such as “BUDGET DEFICIT” to get you up and running in the morning…

  7. Monty says:

    This is standard though no? We don’t like to see good things happen to good people and good companies…we like to hear about people failing…seeing others being successful makes people here bitter and jealous…Congratulations to Samih and Maktoob…highly deserved and thank you for creating some positive news in the west about the Arab world.

    Btw…perhaps Maktoob should consider getting themselves a PR agency to make sure this kind of news actually gets published here…let me also point out – the news may get more attention in the papers tomorrow – after all, the newspapers close early during Ramadan so anything that takes place after 9am wont’ get covered in the next day’s papers :)

    Again…congrats to Maktoob…you make us proud.

  8. I wonder if it might be because, instead of the success that this buyout demonstrates, people instead see it as “American company buys Arab company” – i.e. this entity which used to be “ours” now belongs to “them”. In those terms, where the nationalist narrative supersedes the business narrative (and the human success story), there’s nothing to celebrate.

    Just a thought.

  9. ramsey says:

    viken, escape is not an option.

    change is inevitable. we just have to build a critical mass. when the people lead, everything else will follow.

  10. anonymous says:

    I always say for everything that goes wrong here “You’re in JORDAN!”

  11. kinzi says:

    I wondered the same thing: I was ready for the front-page equivalent of Tawjihi-result joy. I expected a big photo and headline at the JT.

    It is one of the most positive pieces of HUGE, affirming news all year, mish?

  12. Hameed says:

    Man, total dissapointment, i agree with Viken, you live too long in jordan to know whats expected from the community. well look at the bright side, Maktoob has proven that you dont have to be a multinational company to succeed. and we do have talent. and im sorry to see Jordan press is missing out and not taking part.

  13. Khuloud says:

    We do really feel with you, not only in Jordan, but in all the arab world. We just keep talking about the crises and the bad things, nothing about the good things and about the achievements. Shame on us really, we have to be more open minded more creative and more optimistic. Don’t worry sir, soon the new generations will change all of this, hopefully.

  14. P says:

    Ahmad, in my opinion, the reason is very simple: There was no press conference held in Amman! Sadly, I find that our journalists (especially Al Ghad) need an invitation to a press conference to actually write about something. They lack the initiative and audacity to write about something without being poked, or being lured to a banquet!

  15. Hamzeh N. says:

    This is a wonderful story and I understand your disappointment regarding the lack of excitement in Jordan’s mainstream media.

    I really hope this story repeats itself over and over in Jordan, and who knows, maybe we’ll see the same thing happen with Ikbis or Watwet? :D

  16. Mohammad says:

    Why do we keep convincing ourselves that we actually have journalism in Jordan?

  17. Amjad Tadros says:

    Ahmad, Good job .. as much as we are all disappointed we are not surprised. There are many in Jordan who cannot see what is going on. What the Maktoob guys did was probably the best thing that happened to Jordan in years. Samih and Hussam both deserve medals for this achievement. What they did is not just for them, they have raised the bar for all of us. They are and will be for a long time as inspiration for every Arab kid and businessman to follow.

    As far as the local press and government, i must say let stay asleep. On a personal note. When Intel Capital decided to invest in two Jordanian IT companies, Jeeran and ShooFeeTV, the local coverage was even worse. In fact, both companies requested to have the signing ceremony to be done during the WEF., but were rebuffed by some bureaucrat who described the event as “Mish Mouhem”.

  18. Come on everybody…You want the newspapers to promote the e-media the major threat to the print (local newspapers) one of the main reasons (maybe the only) behind the deficit in print sales in the USA is the ONLINE media .

  19. edbice says:

    ahmad,

    the only problem I see here is that there are more Jordanian’s reading the Jordan Times and Al Ghad than 360 east. The inversion of value/quality of reportage to readership is something the market should address in time. ;)

  20. amjad says:

    im not really bothered by this since i hardly read jordanian newspapers. you see i have a very low tolerance level for trivial bullshit. lol
    i worship my safari rss reader

  21. Mohammad says:

    Well, I don’t know if we should celebrate or feel sorry.

    I would really celebrate knowing that:

    1. There is a well established jordanian company that got the attention of a giant like YAHOO.
    2. Also I would celebrate for the owners, they made decent amount of money:)

    On the other side, I feel sorry for the following resons:

    1. The press had failed in covering what is important to the jordanian’s daily life.

    2. We lost a company that could grow more and more in the Arab market.

    3. Most of us didn’t really know that Maktoob was that big and worth that big amount of money. So the press is npt blamed alone right :)

    The question I would like to ask is whether other arab investors were interested in the same deal? Did YAHOO have any competitors locally?

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