The newspaper old enough to have reported on a young Mozart is set to cease its print edition after a shake-up of Austrian media laws. The move comes despite protests by staff and readers.
The print edition of the Austrian newspaper the Wiener Zeitung, which has been published since 1703, will cease to exist after a decision made by Austria’s parliament on Thursday.
The Austrian parliament adopted the law that puts an end to the current form of the daily in a majority vote.
The publication has reported on everything from a young Mozart to the effective abdication of the last Habsburg emperor in its 320-year history, claiming to be the oldest surviving daily newspaper in the world.
It has been owned by the Austrian government since 1857 and serves as an official gazette, with advertisements for government job openings and other official notices appearing in the newspaper by law.
This became its main source of revenue and allowed the newspaper to continue its journalistic mission of reporting the news.
‘End by law’
On Thursday, Austria’s parliament passed a law that would no longer require it and other companies to take out advertisements in the print edition of the paper.
“It is not the role of the republic to run and finance a daily newspaper,” Austria’s conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in 2021 when the changes were first floated.
The new media regulations also alter Wiener Zeitung’s purpose from a daily newspaper to become a “training and further education medium.”
In an article published on the day of the vote titled “End by law,” the newspaper said this new description is an unclear mandate that will gut its capacity to produce journalism.
Staff and readers have staged several protests outside the Federal Assembly in Vienna to protest the planned shuttering of the daily print edition.
Although the online edition and a monthly print edition will be produced going forward, the newspaper’s deputy editor-in-chief Thomas Seifert said the government’s decision was about more than just “digital or paper.”
He told fellow Austrian daily Die Presse what is at stake is “preserving the spirit of the Wiener Zeitung.”