NNA launches new website, introduces Spanish news service

FEBRUARY 25, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) The National News Agency (NNA) launched on Wednesday a new design for its website (www.nna-leb.gov.lb) to which a Spanish section has been added to make of the agency a quadrilingual news source for the Lebanese Diaspora spread in every corner of the world.

The launching ceremony was held under the auspices of Information Minister Ramzi Jreij at Monroe Hotel in Beirut in the presence of ranking dignitaries and officials.

After the national anthem, Director of the National News Agency, Mrs. Laure Sleiman Saab delivered a statement in which she announced the launching of the new website thanks to the honorable sponsorship and presence of Information Minister Ramzi Jreij.

“The National News Agency, which I have the honor to chair, is what it is today thanks to your encouragement. (…) It has reached this level of success owing to unknown soldiers who work day and night for the Agency to be at the level of everyone’s expectations,” Sleiman said.

“The addition of the Spanish language to the online services provided by the NNA for Lebanese at home and abroad is a step in the journey of a thousand miles, in terms of developing the agency’s self-potential and its comprehensiveness in covering the news in all areas, even the remote ones. It emanates from our belief that providing sincere and correct news is what builds the future, and not fabricating ones that serve certain people, groups or regions. The agency belongs to all the Lebanese from whom it derives its strength and durability, and to whom goes the credit in its success,” the NNA director added.

Sleiman recalled the year 2009 when French and English languages were added to the Agency’s services and when regional and international news became part of NNA’s coverage.

“In 2010, images were added to our website, along with investigative reports that tackle the people’s daily issues. We also introduced ‘Know Lebanon’ which, as its title says, further introduces the Lebanese to their country’s villages and towns and highlights the beautiful features of Lebanon.”

“In 2011, the agency decided to attain Australia out of belief that Lebanese emigrants have the right for an active role in the political and national life; they have the right for direct relations with their motherland, through its state agency,” Sleiman went on, explaining that opening NNA offices in Sydney helped create a solid relationship with the Lebanese Diaspora which bears at heart Lebanon’s best interests first and foremost.

“We must not forget the initiative made by Minister Ramzi Jreij to restore the existence of the agency in Europe and that through assigning a correspondent for the NNA in France,” Sleiman added.

“Today, via the Spanish section, the Agency is seeking to reach the largest number of Lebanese emigrants in countries that speak this language, especially since many Lebanese descendants are not fluent in Arabic,” she explained, pointing out that cooperation agreements are in progress with Argentina and Mexico’s official news agencies, and work is underway in collaboration with Lebanon’s Ambassador to Argentina in a bid to open a bureau for the NNA there.

Sleiman concluded her speech by welcoming to attendees and hoping this step would be a cornerstone in reconnecting Lebanon to its expats.

Director General of the Ministry of Information, Dr. Hassan Falha, also had a statement to deliver on this occasion which, in his words, is a major step in promoting the role of media and its progress and openness to cultural diversity that anchors human values and maintains a solid common ground for dialogue among civilizations.

Falha highlighted the need for “recognizing the rights of citizens and communities to have access to accurate information and proper use of means of communication, knowledge and media in order to promote higher humanitarian goals through the adoption of two parallel lines: first is the adherence to interaction, diversity and plurality and second is the respect for fundamental freedoms, especially the freedom of opinion and expression.”

“What our region is witnessing today, mainly the dramatic developments and incidents that manipulate religions and bring harm and distortion to them is caused by seekers of extremism, militancy, insularity and lack of recognition of the other. What is happening to Islam and other religions pushes us as Lebanese and media personnel to beg for media outlets that express what is right without tampering with religious or ideological symbols,” he said.

“Consequently, the move in question puts major responsibility on our shoulders, particularly on the National News Agency and the model it represents as interactive official media source. We succeeded at the Ministry of Information to abolish negative opinions vis-a-vis state-run media institutions. We turned it into news medium for the people,” the ministry’s Director-General assured.

“Another essential point is that Lebanon is a country whose expats’ number is twice its residents. Most of its people have a yearning to speak the world’s most basic languages, among which Spanish which is known to be a romantic Indian-European tongue spoken by about 400 million people in the world as native language. More importantly, more than 10% of the Spanish words’ origin is Arabic,” Falha concluded.

For her part, Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon Milagros Hernando indicated in a word delivered at the ceremony that today was a special day for all those who speak Spanish, “especially me, as I witness today the birth of this project.”

She noted that 540 million people speak Spanish worldwide, whether it was their mother tongue or a second language.

“We share this language with the cultural legacy of the majority of the Latin-American countries,” she said, adding that 15 to 18% of the Spanish words have Arabic origins.

Moreover, she highlighted the importance of the Spanish page on three levels: subjective, political and economic.

“I wish the best for NNA and we, who speak Spanish, support this project,” she concluded.

For his part, Minister Jreij said “it is not the first and it will certainly not be the last time the National News Agency attempts and succeeds to reach all the Lebanese wherever they are. Not long ago the NNA introduced French and English to its news. Today, it is time for the Spanish language to be added. Consequently, the NNA can reach Spain and other parts of the world in a language that is understood by the sons of the Lebanese expatriates’ third generation living in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay and other Latin-American countries.”

“This is how Lebanon’s news could reach every Lebanese, via the NNA which strives to deliver accurate, objective and unprovocative information. (…) The aptly named national news agency is a public media requirement at the local level and a soon-to-be necessity among emigrants, for it is the first reliable source of news, owing to the hard work of its employees and the perseverance of its Director,” the minister said.

Hoping that the launching of the new NNA website with a Spanish section would encourage a large number of Lebanese to learn this rich language and enjoy its wonderful literary heritage, Jreij reminded his audience that the Lebanese were known in the entire world for being fluent in more than one foreign tongue, stressing Lebanon’s adherence to other languages and its belonging to the Francophone world.

“As I welcome all the friends of the Agency: Ministers, Deputies, Ambassadors and media men, I am pleased to announce tonight the official launching of this service which turns the agency, as of this moment, into a bridge that ties Lebanon to all its emigrants spread in every corner of this globe, and conveys to them the news of their beloved country to which they always feel nostalgic and forever hope to return, and in which they dream to reside and invest,” Jreij said.

“Lebanon’s expats are eager to witness, in the near future, the election of a new president for the country; a president who carries an agenda for rebuilding the institutions on sound basis that could restore to the State what it lost during the vacuum period; a president who runs Lebanon’s domestic affairs and represents a symbol of the unity of its people,” the Minister urged.

Deeming the National News Agency a permanent ambassador of Lebanon to different countries of the world hosting Lebanese expatriates, Jreij hoped “this advanced step would thus contribute to the consolidation of ties and communication between Lebanon’s two wings [residents and expats].”

It is to note that the event was attended by Ministers Rashid Derbas (Social Affairs), Rony Araiji (Culture), Michel Pharaon (Tourism), Boutros Harb (Telecommunications), Sejaan Azzi (Labor), Abdel-Muttaleb Hennawi (Sports & Youth) and Alain Hakim (Economy), as well as by representatives of Ministers Muhammad Al-Mashnouq and Ashraf Rifi.

Among the attendees were also the Ambassadors of Spain, Qatar, Mexico, Romania, Uruguay, Palestine and Algeria, a number of Deputies and a crowd of ranking dignitaries, in addition to representatives from different news agencies and media outlets.

SOURCE: National News Agency- Lebanon