One of world’s oldest newspapers ceases daily print edition

Wiener Zeitung will continue to publish online news under the name WZ. Image: WZ
Wiener Zeitung will continue to publish online news under the name WZ. Image: WZ

A 320-year-old newspaper, one of the world’s longest-running daily newspapers still in print, has published its last daily print edition.

The Guardian reported that Vienna-based Wiener Zeitung will cease to print its daily editions after a law change passed in April that ended a legal requirement for companies to pay to publish public announcements in the print edition of the newspaper – thus ending the title’s role as an official gazette – meant it had ceased to be profitable as a printed product.

Published by the Wiener Zeitung media group, the title is owned by the Austrian government but is editorially independent. It has been publishing since August 1703 and is so old, according to Deutsche Welle (DW), that some of Mozart’s earliest concerts were advertised in its pages.

The paper had only ever stopped printing once during its print tenure – during World War II, when it was shut down by the Nazis in 1939 after Austria was incorporated into Hitler’s Germany. It started printing again in 1945 while Austria was still under allied occupation, The Guardian said.

Der Spiegel, meanwhile, reported that the change in law impacted the publisher’s annual income by €18m (£15m) and that the company will have to cut 63 jobs overall, and that only 20 editorial staff will then remain, to work on the title's online offering, which will continue to exist under the name WZ.

Monthly or occasional print versions could also appear in the future, although plans are still “in development”, according to managing director Martin Fleischacker.

Der Spiegel added the final printed edition, published on Friday (30 June), saw editors adopt a “rather melancholy tone”, that saw members of the editorial team say personal goodbyes. The publication carried interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger and two former Austrian chancellors.

The Guardian said that in April, the publication had a circulation of 20,000 on weekdays, and this doubled at weekends.

Several titles - including Wiener Zeitung - have laid claim to being the world’s oldest newspaper. The Guardian added that following Wiener Zeitung stopping printing, the world’s oldest surviving national newspaper is now thought to be Hildesheimer Allgemeine Zeitung, a title first published in the Lower Saxony region of Germany in 1705.

However, Northern Italian newspaper Gazzetta di Mantova was apparently first published in 1664 and also contests that it is the world’s oldest newspaper.

Meanwhile, The London Gazette, an official gazette of the UK government, was launched in 1665, but does not report the news.