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Local newspapers to be subsumed into new title

Four go into one to create the Mittelland Zeitung (picture: www.mittellandzeitung.ch)

Four of Switzerland's local newspapers are to merge to create the country's third largest daily, with an initial print run of 200,000. The move follows an earlier failed attempt at a merger by some of the papers involved.

Announcing the move on Wednesday, the proprietors of the four newspapers touted the new paper - to be called the "Mittelland Zeitung" - as a "strong voice for the area", which is bordered by Basel, Bern and Zurich.

These readers are currently served by the Aargauer Zeitung, the Solothurner Zeitung, the Oltner Tagblatt and the Zofinger Tagblatt.

The new title, which will hit the streets from January next year, is to resemble the current Aargauer Zeitung in layout.

National and International content will be produced at the offices of the current Aargauer Zeitung, while production of the local and regional news will remain the responsibility of the four local offices.

Concerns have been raised about the threat the consolidated paper will pose to the editorial content of the local papers. "We hope that they will still have different opinions and have the opportunity to express these opinions," Jean-Francois Tanda, central secretary of the Swiss Federation of Journalists, told swissinfo.

However, Tanda believes that it is unrealistic to think the individual papers will keep their local status as they "will have to work together and unify their efforts".

The fusion of the four titles into the "Mittelland Zeitung" follows an earlier failed attempt at a merger by some of the papers involved. In 1994, three of the titles launched a similar paper under the same name, but it collapsed after two years.

Tanda said the editors of the four papers had assured their staff that there would be no job losses. "For us it's very important that no jobs will be cut and we hope that the editors will keep the promises they made to their journalists," he said.

Tanda says the merger is part of a broader trend in the Swiss regional press towards more centralised papers controlled by fewer proprietors.

swissinfo with agencies


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