Information to All
National News Agency

The Problem

The National News Agency (NNA) has always been the first and most reliable source of information in Lebanon. Always being the first to deliver accurate, transparent, and objective news items touching on different social, economic, political, security, sports, law, education, as well as regional and international stories, the NNA has endeavored to improve its services to harmoniously fit the increasingly demanding technology of today.
Today, the NNA, a free-of-charge and state-run service, managed to pass this test of technology thanks to the concerted efforts of its highly qualified management, led by Mrs. Laure Sleiman Saab. All said efforts have been translated in the high-tech electronic website which has replaced the previous one, a modest and poorly visited website.
Celebrating its Golden Jubilee in May 2011, NNA launched its magnificent new electronic service to solve all the problems which were standing in the way of the agency’s progress. Today’s website is the third in the history of NNA.
In 1996, the NNA launched its first electronic website. Being a modest electronic service that only provided people with Arabic news items, on limited topics, the NNA site incurred a low number of hits. At that time, the NNA highly relied on its daily printed journal which used to be delivered to all media outlets. This was a huge financial burden, on the Lebanese government, that could have been avoided with an advanced website, capable of instantly delivering all NNA output, all at once. The NNA printed journal was not only the cause of a huge financial burden, but also delayed news delivery for hours, on daily basis.
In 2008, the NNA launched its new electronic website, providing site visitors with its new English and French news services. The objective behind delivering English and French news was to satisfy the site’s foreign readers and ensure job opportunities to competent news writers in both languages. However, the 2008 website still failed to meet with today’s increasing demands. A lot of people thought it wasn’t reader-friendly. It was very primitive, complicated, and displayed major technical errors. NNA was fighting to top the “agency news” field, but the constant complaints about the 2008 website did not help at all.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
The major problem that NNA suffered had been caused by the out-dated website which did not help deliver reader-friendly and instant news, to the comfort and convenience of its visitors.
So, as the NNA approached its 50 years of service, it finally launched its third website. A wide-ranging, user-friendly, mobile-friendly site (WAP, RSS) with an amazing design, capable of keeping up with today’s high tech world of news, the new NNA site now provides readers with all the information they need from one reliable, fast, and accurate source.
Now that the NNA’s new website is wide enough to provide readers with all the information they need, the number of visitors has reached 113000 per month, a number that is very close to NNA’S target number which is 150,000 hits per month. The money that had been previously allocated for the printed journal is now invested in other areas deemed necessary for the progress of NNA.
The NNA website now provides readers with more topics: Investigative stories, features about different Lebanese areas, stock-market and Beirut Bourse updates, a link for displaced Lebanese, electoral draft law updates, mobile application, useful governmental links, links to all the Lebanese media outlets and much more.
With its new website, the NNA now offers people a wider range of news coverage, archives service, voice new bulletin, photo gallery, events, and daily agenda.
This move came to be of great benefit to all NNA website visitors and media outlet. This reflected positively on NNA which is now the fastest and most reliable source of information, nationwide.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
At the time that the National News Agency Director decided to replace the 2008 website with one that satisfies the site visitors’ requests, she decided to involve the private sector in this process. FingerPrints was the developer of NNA’s current website. It is a successful partnership that was built with the private sector. It was a good choice indeed as the results on the ground have shown thus far.
NNA’s technical department now manages the site with the help of the private company. The joint efforts of both sides always bring about the best, in NNA’s interest.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The main objective was to update the news portal in a way to save all info in data base thus separate the data (title, news content, writer, creation date).
In addition to that we now have the ability to add pictures to the news with better data mining capabilities. And later on it is more flexible to add more features to the website like videos and social networks links.
We had to study the way NNA employees enter the news, how they separate the data, and create a program that reads each news and split it in the appropriate format in order to insert it in the database accordingly.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
We used 2.0 in addition to SQL server database. We reviewed the way the NNA works and the flow of news. We studied the way they enter data so we were able to implement a system that facilitates work, and displays the results in a new design with more features.
We were working in parallel on the new website design (with its own C.M.S.), and on the software that patches the news and places it in the database
We had to keep both systems up and running, and reading from the same data files. A lot of tests were made by NNA and we had to do the updates. We had to go online in an urgent way to meet the deadline of the 50Th anniversary of NNA

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
It was tough to create the software that pulls and places the news in the Database since the news design was not standardized. In addition to that, each day we have more than 500 News with their pictures, and we have around 4000 visitors per day. So our main concern was to create a database design that keeps the system running with no delay. We did that by creating the hot news system also controlled by the CMS (Content Management System)

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The job was commissioned by NNA to FINGERPRINTS to revamp our old website. Lots of professional people were involved in this particular task. They prepared for our Golden Jubilee, and technical staff from our side took part in the process. The costs reached approximately 15,000 USD for a 3- language versions, including animation, etc...

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The domain name of our website “” goes a long way in building our reputation. So, we made sure to choose an ideal URL for it. We have also been aware that having strong online presence sure guarantees to boost NNA’s performance, but more than that it stands to build a sustainable web presence of our agency that we hope will last into the future. For this to happen, we also made sure search engines index our website in a way that it is always placed among the top slots of search engine results. This helped boost NNA’s name, increase visitor traffic and build a base of satisfied customers who will continue to provide return incentives. Creating a strong foundation and strengthening our online presence with incremental improvements is our current strategy to make our web presence permanent.

We have also been aware that the functionality of our website determines its usability. That is why our main objective is to have our website cater to the internet searchers as well as the search engines. For if it is not for the search engines, to display our site in the results, we can hardly hope to get any searchers to visit us. That is why; in our new website we removed all usability obstacles and provided a clear navigation pathway that enables visitors to browse through without any hindrance.

We also made sure that the sustainability of our website in the cyberspace depends on its ability to be modified according to the changing environment. So we chose our content management system carefully. Now we are able to add and rewrite content, change links, swap out pictures and graphics and include other things quickly and easily.

As important as the appearance of our website is to us, safety measures are also as important, since safety is a crucial element in sustaining our website through time. This keeps our site and emails safe from hackers and spammers and ensures optimal uptime for our servers.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
In the mid-1990s, the Web emerged as a disruptive force, changing the way businesses and institutions communicate with their customers, suppliers, and employees while at the same time enabling increased efficiency. Today, we witness an increasingly significant shift towards technology and professionalism. If we fail to catch up with these international standards, our agency is doomed to lag behind as the world progresses. Our initiative, the NNA new website, is now seen increasingly as a ‘platform’ for NNA’s innovation, interaction and service delivery. It has developed as a collaboration tool, meeting space between the outpost of our staff and the readers, as well as a service portal, free of charge, for whoever wishes to visit our site.
So, we may say that the lesson learned by launching this initiative is to always think about providing our site visitors with the best service possible. This will not only satisfy our readers, but will also ensure the continuity and success of our institution. Such an investment is very costly, but definitely is the best achievement that has been accomplished by NNA thus far.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   National News Agency
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Mario Tannous
Title:   Advisor to the Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   00961 1 341977; 00961 3 754825
Institution's / Project's Website:
Address:   Hamra Street, facing the Central Bank, Beirut
Postal Code:  
City:   Beirut
State/Province:   Beirut
Country:   Lebanon

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