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Media Co-ops from Five Countries Initiate Partnership

by Al Berg

The Geno International campaign wants to increase cooperation between media co-ops from five different countries.
The Geno International campaign wants to increase cooperation between media co-ops from five different countries.
taz. Die Tageszeitung. (Germany)
taz. Die Tageszeitung. (Germany)
FriaTidningen (Sweden)
FriaTidningen (Sweden)
LaDiaria (Uruguay)
LaDiaria (Uruguay)
BirGün (Turkey)
BirGün (Turkey)
KulturniNoviny (Czech Republic)
KulturniNoviny (Czech Republic)

The cooperatively run German daily newspaper tageszeitung, or taz, for short, has started a fund raising drive. The campaign, named Geno International, is aiming at the over 11.000 part-owners and roughly 80.000 readers, encouraging them to donate money in support of four smaller cooperative newspapers in Sweden, Uruguay, Turkey and the Czech Republic. The idea, according to taz, is to share some of its success, and support independent journalism worldwide.

Since foundation the Berlin-based taz, has taken its place among Germany's daily newspapers. Even though Europe's largest single publishing market has been in systematic economic crisis for years now, the taz has been able to maintain its footing. The cooperative has continuously grown in numbers, to 11,862 members at the time of writing, while the paper's print edition had a circulation of 77,191 in the last quarter. The taz employs about 250 staff. There are two local editions, one for Berlin, and one for Northern Germany. Too big to be ignored, the paper has a not insubstantial influence on national debate and politics. A piece of journalistic history was made in 2006, when Poland's nationalist president of the time Kaczynski was satirized, causing a diplomatic schism between the two nations.

Commemorating the cooperative's 20th birthday and the International Year of Cooperatives, the taz now wants to share some of its success, by supporting independent journalism internationally. Through the Geno Internatioal campaign, the taz is hoping to raise €10,000 ($12,000), for each of four media co-ops in other countries which still have to deal with greater hardships: Fria Tidningen (Sweden), La diaria (Uruguay), BirGün (Turkey), Kulturní noviny (Czech Republic).

The Swedish Fria Tidning (“The Free Paper“) was founded in 2001. With a national circulation of about 6000, it is published twice a week in Stockholm. There are four local editions. The editors are hoping to soon be able to publish daily. Fria Tidningen has 45 staff and 50 freelancers.

La diaria (“The Daily”), founded in 2006, is published from Monday to Friday, in Uruguay's capital Montevideo. It currently has a circulation of about 7500, making it the second largest paper in the country by number of sales. 115 people work for La diaria, 35 of which on the editorial board.

The Turkish BirGün (“One Day”), founded in 2004, is published daily in Istanbul. Its circulation is 13,000. Since it is legally impossible in Turkey to run media cooperatively, the paper was started as a joint-stock company by 3000 individuals – with one vote per shareholder, regardless of how big their share. BirGün employs 35 staff, and has 10 freelance contributors. The internationally renowned journalist, columnist and human rights advocate Hrant Dink contributed to BirGün, until his assassination by a nationalist in 2007.

The Czech Kulturní noviny (“Culture News”), or KN, founded in 2009, comes out twice a month. It is published in Brno, with a circulation of about 1500. The paper has a staff of 7, three freelancers, and about 50 contributors. KN hopes to be able to hire more full time employees, to eventually be able to counterbalance the corporate right wing press in the Czech Republic.

With funding scarce, the main problem facing all of the media co-ops is competition from corporate media. In addition to that, authoritarian measures on the part of the government is a problem, especially for Turkey's BirGün. Thus, international solidarity and extra funds are well appreciated.

But this campaign is about more than just money. As Ulrika Sundbäck writes in Fria Tidningen on May 12th, hopefully this will lead to ”financial and editorial cooperation, across national boundaries.“ The idea is that in the future articles could be translated and exchanged between the different media co-ops. An increase in such transnational cooperation between independent cooperative media may well affect lasting change to the global media scape. An exciting prospect, to be sure.

For more information on each of the four media coops supported by the Geno International campaign visit:

...for information on Fria Tidningen,

...for information on BirGün,

...for information on La diaria,

...for information on Kulturní noviny.

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