WAN-IFRA annual conference called off

The international newspaper industry’s largest annual conference has been called off, hitting trouble for the second year running after organisers could not secure funds necessary for the event to take place.

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) said today the World Newspaper Congress and the World Editors Forum, which runs concurrently, would not take place next month in Lebanon as scheduled.

The Editors Forum will instead be held later in the year with the Congress reappearing in 2011.

WAN-IFRA claimed local host, the An-Nahar newspaper, had contacted the organisation to say it was unable to provide agreed funds because of the aftermath of the 2009 financial, economic and political crisis in the region.

Last year, WAN-IFRA called off the joint events set for Hyderabad, India, in March as the impact of the global financial meltdown took its toll. The events were later rescheduled and took place in December.

“It is with immense disappointment that we are forced to call off our events in Beirut, but it was simply impossible to go ahead without the commitment of our Lebanese colleagues, who were responsible for security and other significant infrastructural and service expenses,” said Gavin O’Reilly, President of WAN-IFRA.

“We deeply regret that we cannot bring these events to Lebanon, particularly as this will cause immense inconvenience for our members, but this is not feasible without a local partner.”

Despite some 700 delegates having already registered for the Beirut event, WAN-IFRA said the cost of the venue, security and other local expenses – estimated to be 1.6 million Euros – could not be covered by registration fees alone.

The World Editors Forum will be rescheduled for October and be held in conjunction with the IFRA Expo in Hamburg, Germany, its organisers said today.

Both Congress and Editors Forum delegates will be invited to attend the rescheduled event.

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