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English magazines launched in Zurich and Geneva

Zurich's Cream magazine hopes to capture the city's English readers. swissinfo.ch

After years of neglect, English speakers in Switzerland’s two biggest cities are now being targeted by magazines in their own language.

This content was published on January 11, 2004 - 12:02

Two new publications have been launched in an effort to capture a share of Switzerland’s English-speaking readership in Geneva and Zurich.

At the beginning of December a group of private investors launched "Cream" magazine, which focuses on life in Zurich.

Cream followed in the footsteps of "GEM" – or “Geneva’s English-speaking Magazine” – which launched one year ago and has quickly established itself among the city’s anglophiles.

And unlike other English publications, both products are aimed at their local markets, rather than a pan-Swiss audience.

Paula Amunategui, the managing director of Cream, said concentrating on Zurich was an important strategic decision.

Local focus

Rather than try to satisfy the needs of readers throughout Switzerland, Cream was about serving the interests of people living in Zurich.

“It’s not just an English or expatriate magazine. We want to go into the stories, faces and people of canton Zurich,” she said.

Addison Holmes, the editor of GEM, said he launched the magazine because Geneva had nothing that served the city’s 30,000-40,000 English speakers.

“Even though a lot of these people are bilingual, there was a need and desire among people to read about Geneva life and events in English,” Holmes said.

“A lot of French magazines have a level of assumption that people know how things work or who the people are,” he said.

“We make no assumptions about issues or subjects. Our idea was to open up Geneva and provide information about the faces behind the stories.”

English by default

Amunategui said natives of Zurich would also get a feel for how “outsiders” perceived and experienced the city.

“It’s a way of looking at themselves with new eyes.”

Both magazines use writers from around the world.

“We’ve had a lot of comments from Swiss people who’ve lived here for 30 years saying that we’ve been able to open up the city and provide information they had no idea of,” Holmes said.

Both publishers also made the point that English was often the language of choice among people of different cultural backgrounds.

“English doesn’t only belong to the British and Americans,” said Amunategui.

“It’s the language in which everybody communicates – and I can say that because I’m not a native English speaker, I come from Chile.”

Advertising recession

The odds are stacked against the long-term survival of both magazines. The publishing industry is a notorious graveyard for inspired, but unprofitable, ideas.

But the fact that both GEM and Cream magazines launched during an advertising recession is a positive sign.

“There have been three other magazines that started in Geneva [during our time], and none has lasted as long as us. We’re very pleased,” said Holmes.

Holmes said GEM has a monthly readership of around 15,000 - something that advertisers have responded to.

“Our readership ranges from au pairs to company directors. Geneva is a very diverse city and it has its own problems and issues, and by looking at the people and personalities you can broaden your market,” he said.

Amanategui has a target of 10,000 copies per month during Cream’s three-month start-up phase, and admitted it would be a challenge, particularly without the support of a large media group.

But having launched the first edition at the beginning of December, with the support of “friends, family and fools”, she believed it would survive.

swissinfo, Jacob Greber in Zurich

Key facts

There are estimated to be up to 50,000 English speakers in both Geneva and Zurich.
Publishers have sought to target English readers by launching city-focused magazines.
GEM is "Geneva's English-speaking Magazine" launched in December 2002.
Cream launched in Zurich on December 1, 2003.

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