A Tiny Old Newsroom

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Jeversches Wochenblatt
 Close to the downtown area of the small town Jever, located in the north-west of Germany, stands a white building. Behind his white painted wooden entrance door is the reception of the news editorial Jeversche Wochenblatt (JeWo; Weekly Paper of Jever). The editorial director Helmut Burlager –  a tall man in his late fifties – guides us down the hallway, through the storage room, to the old printing and publishing room – now, it is also kind of a storage room. A bunch of chairs were prepared for us.

Us, that means a group of Nepalese and German students who are working together at the project “Media School Nepal” (MSN 2016), a cooperation between the Jade University of Applied Sciences in Germany and the Kathmandu University in Nepal. We are 21 students and four professors – two of them from each university.

Celebrating time
Next to Burlager is a table with a package of the latest newspapers. He explains that this year is an important year for the JeWo: “We are celebrating this week our 225th anniversary. We were founded in 1791 and we are one of the oldest newspapers in Germany.” But also one of the smallest newspapers, added he. There are eleven editors and six freelancers in Jever. And the six day the week published newspaper has an edition from 7,000 printed version per day.

Tour through the JeWo building
Helena Kreiensiek – a trainee at the JeWo – gave us a guided tour through the heritage building, what is staying under monument protection. The marketing department is also to find at the downstairs section, but the actually editorial work is upstairs. The stairs leads through a hallway. At the end is the sport editorial, with their own office. Just them and the editor in chief having separated offices. The local reporters are sharing all the same room at the other side of the building.

 Between this two areas is a conference rooms. On the wall are hanging the drafts of the newspaper for tomorrow. Everyone is able to look at them and to edit mistakes, explains Kreiensieck and added: “I do the same work as everybody else.” Then she guides us back downstairs, where she is doing some interviews with our professors for her article.

Censorship to freedom of the press
“The first owner needed between ten and 15 years before he was able to publish his first weekly newspaper”, said Burlager. There was no press freedom but censorship at this time. After the 1st world war was the first democracy in Germany founded, today known as the Weimar Republic. The press freedom in Germany was given, but the Nazi regime took it away.

It was also not allowed to produce any media content after the 2nd world war without a licence by the allied occupiers. It was a security measure to destroy any Nazi ideology. In this time, the journalist from Jever had to be flexible. Burlager tells, that they “worked for the agricultural part of the publishing company by cutting turf.”

Since 1949, when the two German States of East and West Germany were founded, there is no censorship, at least in West Germany. The Government is not allowed to own media companies. Otherwise they might not be critical and balanced towards politics. This is one different to the media system in Nepal, because the government in Nepal is allowed to run media companies.

Fighting for new readers
“It is very difficult to get younger people to read papers”, complains Burlager. A majority of the readers have subscribed the Jeversches Wochenblatt – but this are not the young readers. A measure to win new readers is the early online presents with their website: “The online articles are shorten, but with the same content like in the print version.” They are for free and available as soon as possible. The JeWo is also experimenting with social-media platforms like Facebook or YouTube, and a digital PDF version, sold a bit cheaper than the print version. Burlager explains: “We have not so many developer to change anything, because we are a small company. We will follow the solutions of the bigger companies.”

“We have every Friday or Saturday a page just for teenagers published in the newspaper”, says Kreiensiek. Another method to generate younger users is the messenger application WhatsApp, how the publishing director Doortje Sabin in the anniversary edition of the JeWo explains. “Since a short time, we send daily news to the cells of the Whats-App-Users.” The visit at a small editorial company has shown us one problem, what the new generation of journalists has to be aware of.

Patrick Klapetz

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