2018 News Digital Media Viability Lab

Good Times with Laziz Times

In the past four months, Maharat foundation has been working diligently with 16 media professionals for a Media Management Training program that aims to teach them the skills they need to create sustainable media platforms and websites.

Lebanese media specialist Sanaa Khoury is a participant in this program. She and her team Laziz Times (which translates to “good times” in Arabic), are working on a cool idea that would keep all restaurant goers engaged and amused while waiting for their orders.

Laziz Times aims to make print relevant again.

After being handed the “print” assignment by the media training program, Laziz Times knew that, if they were to succeed, they would have to make print fun and relatable again.

So they came up with the idea of printing fun material on paper for restaurants and cafe goers and placing the printed papers under their plates. That way, goers would stay engaged with the printed content while waiting for their food.

“We found this to be a good use of paper in business, as most restaurants use a lot of paper,” Khoury told Maharat. “And it might even lead to us being responsible for the content printed on the restaurants’ papers as they already have a lot of empty space. This is a profitable idea.”

Other profitable “content” partnerships would include partnerships with F&B agencies that would place their ads on the papers. Sanaa’s team can also create their own fun, relevant content.

“There will also be a fun “Laziz app” that people can use to answer quizzes printed on the paper while they wait for food to arrive,” Khoury added.

In terms of location, the founders are considering either Cairo, Beirut, Rabat or Casablanca. They’re not worried about the cost, though, as their small team will be working remotely from home until they start making profit.

What about Sanaa’ss own project?

Sanaa plans to create a platform that educates readers about gynecological and psychological topics. Having been the previous head of the cultural section at Al Ittihad newspaper, Sanaa knows a thing or two about what’s missing in the market.

“I chose these topics because they’re still not treated seriously in the Arab world and I wanted to do them justice,” she told Maharat. “What’s more is that I can easily get funding for this type of content as it is being internationally discussed by the media, and there is real lack of coverage in the region.”

Khoury plans to use Facebook and Instagram channels for marketing. She spent some time answering our questions.

What has been the most important topic for Laziz Times at the training?

The most important topic of the program was about leadership in the workplace. It taught us crucial skills on how to deal with the people around us at work, not just the business model and what not.

Leadership skills in the Lebanese media are essential, especially now more than ever, as it can facilitate operations smoothly and minimize errors for recruiting because we have a lot of managers in this business but no leaders.

What makes Lazize times special in the marketplace?

I find it very special because now is a time where people say print is finished, but we in Lazize times make print cool and relevant again where people might use it based on their ideas.

 If you created new revenue streams, what could this money be used for? Would it make you more independent?

In terms of revenue streams, I learned two important lessons: the first is “sponsored content” where you would be producing quality journalism while partnering with media outlets in a way that would help you make revenue from content.

The second revenue stream [I learned] was organizing events: that we as a media organization  might organize an event which would help us create a community of like-minded people around us.

How can  quality journalism be financed today?

It’s very difficult in the Arab region to do so, while there are innovations abroad with concepts like subscriptions, sponsored content and projects for large media organizations.

In the training we were introduced to the idea of crowdfunding but I believe this is more done in the West than here.

I believe this question is an open one and we as journalists and media organizations need more time to think about this because it’s not easy at all.