BREAKING! International journalism bodies, including The International Association of Independent Journalists Inc. (IAIJ), Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and the Center for InvestigativeJournalism (IJ), have called for a solidarity action for independent journalism in the face of the coronavirus crisis. It takes place today at 5pm, all over Germany and beyond.
The action is to express international solidarity for small independent media, which have already been severely challenged by publishing giants for many years now.
Twenty-seven countries are part of the solidarity day, and we’re proud to announce that Exberliner was picked to represent Germany for its “fierce independence and journalism standards”.
Founded in 2002 by three journalists, Germany’s largest English language magazine is still co-owned by a small group of private investors to this day.
Publishing diversity is a sign of a healthy democracy, and no virus should be allowed to wipe out such a precious resource.
“As one of the very few last standing independently owned magazines, we believe that Exberliner was the perfect candidate”, said IAIJ’s Michael McBrine at a press conference last night.
Today, April 1, 17:00, housebound Berliners are called to step onto their balconies (if you don’t have one, fling open your windows!), grab an issue of EXB monthly magazine, and read aloud a page of their choice. Shy, glossophobic and other people averse to public-performance will be permitted to read silently.
“These are challenging times, and the economic recession prompted by the coronavirus crisis will be a survival test for many small publishing houses”, said McBrine. “They are a disappearing species, and it’s high time the public shouted their concern and support for true independent journalism. They need to hear loud and clear that they must ‘keep up the fight’.”
Asked by reporters if the committee was also planning financial support, RWB chair Mackensie Adams said it wasn’t on the agenda. “It is the duty of each government to ensure that free, independent press gets to survive the crisis. Smaller media are a guarantee for creative expression and plurality of opinions – beyond big group’s interests” added Adams. “Publishing diversity is a sign of a healthy democracy, and no virus should be allowed to wipe out such a precious resource.”
We’re very proud and grateful for EXB to have been chosen to represent free independent press in Germany.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, smaller independent media have been particularly vulnerable to the economic repercussions of the lockdown. Particularly hit are those dealing with culture and the arts, as well as magazines covering city and nightlife, as many advertisers had to withdraw their financial support. “In EXB‘s case, 95 percent of our revenue comes from Berlin’s small and big cultural institutions, local shops and restaurants, all of which had to shut their doors to the public and freeze their budget as direct victims of the coronavirus,” explained EXB co-publisher Nadja Vancauwenebrghe. The Berlin magazine already announced they’ve had to cancel publication of the April issue, shifting their resources and focus to the magazine’s digital platforms until further notice.
Quarantined at EXB‘s HQ on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz Vancauwenberghe further stated: “We’re very proud and grateful for EXB to have been chosen to represent free independent press in Germany.” Asked about the future of the magazine, she said “It’s a tough situation – but the response from partners, contributors and readers has been amazing. Our team is currently working 24/7 to carry on delivering the kind of journalism we’re reputed for. It’s also been a chance to think outside the box and develop our digital formats. We’ve been through a lot over the last 18 years, it won’t be a virus that kills us!”
The phenomenon of people stepping on balconies to give voice to their fight against the coronavirus began in mid-January in the shutdown Chinese city of Wuhan, where people shouted from the buildings “‘jiāyóu!” — which can be translated as “never give up!”