Meghrebi was created by award-winning journalist Martin Jay who got tired of how partisan and corrupt media is in the MENA region and how, in particular, there was a real need for English language reporting in the Arab Maghreb Union countries (which are mostly francophone). It is also partly due to his frustration of working for western media giants also over the years whose values have slowly corroded away and whose top editors have been replaced with those who are attached too closely to the new environment in news rooms which puts too much emphasis on personal relations, office politics and the required sycophancy which is tacitly part of new media. In 2016 he was awarded the Elisabeth Neufler journalism award by the UN for reporting on the desperate plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon – a report which almost didn’t get made after Deutsche Welle told him they didn’t want it, so he defied them and traveled to the Syria-Lebanese border and made it anyway. DW fired him a few days after the UN announced he’d won the prestigious award for the article about Syrians burning their own shoes to stay warm, a reaction by the German state broadcaster which Martin argues, sums up perfectly what is really fundamentally wrong with western media today: “way too focused on people’s egos and no longer the story”. He was also previously fired by CNN in 2011 for refusing to make a fake news report by a journalist who had flown into Morocco and wanted help in making an entirely fabricated report about the Moroccan king “clinging onto power”.
It is this very break down of big media and how it regards veteran journalists in the field like Martin which ultimately led him to start Maghrebi. It’s both an accumulation of such stories like the CNN and DW ones, but also the salient need to get to the raw truth in the region in which Martin now lives, which is impossible to achieve via the international media giants and equally arduous through local media which exceed themselves at the dark art of self censorship. Maghrebi hopes to bypass both.
His career has spanned over 30 years which has seen him work in over 50 countries for a host of big media titles including CNN, Euronews, The Sunday Times and Daily Mail. He is based in Morocco, where he is the somnolent correspondent for the Daily Mail.
Many of the contributors have a link with Martin, either due to writing for outlets that he has worked for, or are former colleagues or friends.