World’s oldest still-publishing newspaper faces collapse
By Alejandro Gimenez
Vienna, Apr 19 (EFE).- It has survived revolutions, the fall of European empires and two world wars, but the Austrian daily newspaper Wiener Zeitung is now at risk of shutting down.
The paper, founded in 1703 under the name Wiennerisches Diarium, is considered to be the world’s oldest surviving daily paper.
It became the country’s official gazette after it was nationalized in 1898 by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
Walter Hammarle, the editor-in-chief, tells Efe that plans to digitize Austria’s official Gazette, which the Wiener Zeitung publishes in a weekly supplement, could see the paper to lose 75% of its revenues, which would jeopardize the jobs of 100 of its 200 employees, 60 of whom are journalists.
Although state-owned, the Wiener Zeitung maintains an independent editorial line, which allows it to stand out for the quality of its political and economic reporting.
“The brand of Wiener Zeitung is a highly valuable brand for all German speaking regions,” Hammerle tells Efe in an interview at the newspaper’s offices, adding that it is committed to “quality” and “independent” journalism.
Hammerle says he recognizes how hard it is to run a public communication medium without having the support of the current government.
All companies in the country are obliged to publish their public announcements in a weekly supplement of the Wiener Zeitung, in exchange for a fee.
The Austrian government, led by conservative Sebastian Kurz, welcomed an EU directive on the use of digitized tools, putting the paper in the danger of closing down and losing fees paid by companies.