Today’s issue of Watani concludes the paper’s 62 years on the Egyptian press arena. Sixty-two years ago, on 21 December 1958, the first issue of Watani saw light. I feel proud that Watani is on to breaking the time record of privately owned Egyptian papers. The record to date belongs to Gareedat Misr which, according to researcher and Watani columnist Ramy Atta Seddiq, was founded in 1895 by the Copt Tadros Shenouda al-Manqabadi, and ran for 71 years until it bid its readers farewell in 1966.
We are still nine years short of reaching this target which seems rather far away. Yet the journalistic and enlightenment mission we undertake, and the service we offer our nation leads us to look to the future with eagerness and optimism. Watani’s workforce of journalists, administrators, and services team, are all eager to invest themselves throughout the coming weeks that would soon turn into months and years, to reach the goal of achieving a new record in Egyptian journalism.
The mission of Watani, the seeds of which were planted by the Copt Antoun Sidhom (1915 – 1995), was carried by generations of dedicated writers and journalists of substantial journalistic stature, who took it in turns to hand the torch to younger generations. They were vital in planting and nourishing the Watani tree which today stands strong, firmly rooted in the ground, with branches, twigs and leaves spread out. The ongoing interaction between the various generations of older and younger generations of reporters continues to make the paper what it is. The younger reporters benefit from their seasoned seniors, and the more senior ones are introduced to modern methods and technologies which have come to dominate present-day journalistic work. With the passing of every decade, we stand amazed at the changes that occurred in the meantime, including the tools we use to work with. It never ceases to surprise us how these changes reflect on the very essence and form of the paper.
During our more recent years, we have twice demonstrated to our readers the ever-escalating changes that have impacted the paper. In 2008, as we celebrated Watani’s golden jubilee, a group of reporters delved into our archives of the period 1958 – 2007 to discover highlights of the context printed in the paper then. We dedicated a page in each Watani issue throughout 2008 to print glimpses of what had been published during the 50 earlier years. These glimpses were presented in image form, without editing of any kind. The content, headlines, printing style and fonts were thus those that had been used back in the day when the material was first published. All through 2008, we could spot how the styles slowly developed until the more modern times of computer and new technology.
Again, in 2018 as we celebrated Watani’s 60th anniversary, a younger team of reporters was put to the task of highlighting the achievements of the 10 years that separated the jubilee year and the 60th anniversary. This span brimmed with development in the quality of journalistic material and the technologies used to design and produce the pages, as well as the printing techniques. Modern graphic design and page layout techniques enabled us to present the archive material separating the years 50 and 60 of Watani in playful, interesting ways. We were also able to present glimpses of what was published by our English and French versions: Watani International and Watani Francophone, and we were also able to allude to our website which is in line with the requirements of our modern age
Tomorrow Watani embarks on its 63rd year. It upholds its perpetual mission carried on by the fruitful ever-rejuvenating tree. Over time, we have mourned precious leaves that fell off the tree, but have also delighted in new leaves that grew on its branches. I extend my best wishes for a fruitful new year for Watani, a blessed year to all our readers. May God always bless our dear Egypt with peace and stability.
20 December 2020