‘Last post’ for Prague newspaper legend

After nearly 25 years of existence, the life span of the Czech capital’s main English language newspaper, the Prague Post, seems to have come to a close. According to the website mediar.cz, the paper’s owner has filed for insolvency following poor results. Ruth Fraňková has the details.

The Prague Post weekly was established in 1990, when thousands of English speakers flooded the Czech capital following the fall of the Iron Curtain. The English language weekly was doing more or less fine until the economic crisis in 2009, when its readership dropped significantly, leading to a slump in income from subscriptions and advertising.

The Prague Post was forced to lay off a considerable number of its employees in recent years and in 2013, it disappeared from the city’s newsstands for good. For the past two years, the paper was only available online, but the numbers of readers kept going down. In the first two quarters of this year, the online Prague Post registered a 40 percent drop in earnings, according to the website.

Mediář.cz, citing information from the insolvency register, added that the Prague post has roughly 11 million crowns (over 400,000 euros) in outstanding debts owed to over a 100 creditors.

Benjamin Cunningham, photo: archive of Benjamin CunninghamBenjamin Cunningham, photo: archive of Benjamin Cunningham Benjamin Cunningham, who worked for the Prague Post as an editor-in-chief from 2008 to 2012, says the main reason behind the paper’s demise is the simple fact that the market for English language newspapers is too splintered:

“I think there are a lot of people doing things in small ways. I think that Czech language media has also in recent years adapted and they put out a few things in English as well. So there is an accumulation of bits from a bunch of different sources.

“I think it is probably a sign that a single general interest newspaper is pretty difficult to run as a business now. Maybe there is a market for something specialised but I think the old sort of model in English in a single news organisation is difficult.”

While the numerous English speaking community living in the Czech Republic will be left with no English language newspaper, the German weekly Prager Zeitung, which was also established in the early 1990s, is still being published.

According to Benjamin Cunningham, it’s because they are catering to a more specific, niche audience and they don’t have to compete with the global and Czech media.

Despite its demise, Mr Cunningham says the Prague Post will leave several legacies on the Czech media scene:

“First of all it has a legend of being something that came in the 1990s this sort of golden era for internationalism as Prague re-entered the international arena after years of being isolated. I think in its later years it sort of matured and grew with the community of expats and with the Czech community as well. And the ultimate lesson in the end is that it wasn’t immune to the forces of the changing media landscape and to the same things that all media are.”