Monday, May 26, 2014

Is Time Out Beirut dead? and what is Beirut View? (UPDATE)

Today was a chaotic day indeed when it comes to a specific situation, that of Time Out Beirut. First the facts: In his Linkedin profile Nehme Abouzeid still lists himself as publisher of Time Out Beirut, Naomi Sargeant in her Twitter profile says she is co-founder. Earlier in the day the website Time Out Beirut experienced some severe and prolonged downtime, leading many of us to speculate the whole magazine vanished (to add to speculation, the twitter feed and facebook pages also vanished).
In a comment when reached out via twitter by Beirut/NTSC, Sargeant said "New competitors emerge. The practice of rebranding is the ideal way to address these challenges."
At this stage it is assumed that the rebranding in question is from Time Out Beirut to Beirut View - whereas I am trying to keep this article as factual as possible there is precious little information. Eliot Stempf, who dubs himself a "Beirut-based editor" and who was part of of On Time Publishing which is the mother holding of what used to be Time Out Beirut said via his twitter feed "I'm a past employee of On Time Publishing. Left in June 2013. Still not paid" (again there was little in terms of substantiating this allegation or circumstances surrounding this tweet). The implication of this tweet is that, according to the twitter feed of MacKenzie Lewis who was also a past managing editor of Time Out Beirut, "I imagine it's hard to keep a license when you don't pay employees, threaten them and just generally treat people horribly" which according to her "speculation" is reason enough to rebrand (once more, there is no way to confirm or substantiate any of this on any level, and it remains at this stage a one-sided hearsay).
UPDATE 1:
The Time Out Beirut website is now back online:
In a tweet replying to me clarifying the downtime on the site, Sargeant said: "ask maintenance and as I stated I have moved onto new challenges!"
Further digging revealed that the statement in question was posted earlier in the day on her own facebook profile:
"FAREWELL!!
Dear Friends, Advertisers, and Supporters,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know that I am leaving my position at Time Out Beirut and On Time Publishing.
Thank you for the support, you have provided me during my time at Time Out Beirut. I have enjoyed having had the opportunity to work with you, on all the events, arts, culture and entertainment. I have met some great people along the way who are making a real difference in this great country!
I am staying in Lebanon (sorry you still have to put up with me) however I am looking forward to a new challenge and I shall keep you all updated on what is next!
Find me on @beirutview on both Twitter & Instagram!
Thanks again for everything!!"
There is at this stage a new Time Out Beirut page on Facebook! And the first person to like the page is Naomi Sargeant herself, which could have many interpretations, the first one of which is that although she is out of On Time Publishing she is still supportive of their endeavors.
In addition @timeoutbeirut is now on twitter again, like its facebook counterpart, starting from scratch. There is speculation that the people who followed the previous account of Time Out Beirut on Twitter were automatically shifted to @beirutview which is the new handle of Sargeant there.
UPDATE 2:
On May 27, I can confirm that logging in the Time Out Beirut website will automatically redirect to the Time Out (worldwide) website, the official brand that is.

Full disclosure: I myself was at one point associated with a magazine called Tagged (issue zero) as guest editor in chief, which was part of On Time Publishing, and whereas I did not continue the project to term due to creative differences I was still credited on the masthead.
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