World’s Oldest National Newspaper Prints Final Edition After 320 Years

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The world’s oldest national newspaper has printed its last daily edition almost 320 years after it began.

Wiener Zeitung, a Vienna-based daily newspaper, will no longer print daily editions after a recent law change meant it had ceased to be profitable as a print product.

The law, which was passed in April by Austria’s coalition government, ended a legal requirement for companies to pay to publish public announcements in the print edition of the newspaper, terminating Wiener Zeitung’s role as an official gazette.

The final daily edition of Wiener Zeitung

This change resulted in an estimated €18m (£15m) loss of income for the publisher, according to Der Spiegel, and has forced the paper to cut 63 jobs, including reducing its editorial staff from 55 to 20.

It will continue to publish online and is hoping to distribute a monthly print edition, although that plan is reportedly still in development.

The newspaper, which is owned by the Austrian government but is editorially independent, began publishing in August 1703 and has seen out 12 presidents, 10 kaisers and two republics.

In its first edition, it said it would provide a straightforward account of the news “without any oratory or poetic gloss”.

In 1768 it reported on a concert starring an “especially talented” 12-year-old. His name was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

When Austria was defeated in the first world war, the paper published a special edition with the abdication letter of the last Habsburg emperor, Kaiser Karl.

In its last daily print edition on Friday, it ran an editorial blaming the government’s new law for the end of its print run and said: “These are stormy times for quality journalism … On more and more platforms, serious content vies for attention with fake news, cat videos and conspiracy theories.”

In April its circulation was just 20,000 on weekdays, although this figure doubled at weekends.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was one its final interviewees, along with the former Austrian chancellors Franz Vranitzky and Wolfgang Schüssel.

The EU commission vice-president Věra Jourová told the Austrian news agency APA that she was “not happy with the situation” at the newspaper. “I think the Wiener Zeitung played a good role in informing people over the years,” she said.

During its three centuries of printing, the newspaper had only one forced break. After Austria was incorporated into Hitler’s Germany, the paper was shut down by the Nazis in 1939. In 1945, while Austria was still under allied occupation, it began printing again.

The title of world’s oldest newspaper is contested by the Gazzetta di Mantova, a local newspaper that was first published in 1664. The London Gazette, an official gazette of the UK government that does not report the news, dates back to 1665.

The world’s oldest surviving national newspaper is now thought to be the German publication Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung, which was first published in 1705.

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