Austria's Wiener Zeitung, one of the oldest newspapers remaining in print in the world, will predominantly go online as a result of a decision made by the nation's parliament on Thursday.
The decision signals the end of a protracted legal battle between the Austrian government and the newspaper over the direction of the national daily.
The Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria nationalized the once-private biweekly publication in 1857, becoming it the nation's official gazette. The paper was first published under the name Wiennerisches Diarium in 1703 and then changed its name to Wiener Zeitung in 1780.
A new legislation that will predominantly transfer the publishing online starting on July 1 was “adopted with a majority,” according to Norbert Hofer, the third president of the parliament.
Depending on the funding, the periodical will sustain a minimum of 10 print publishes year.
The World Association of News Publishers informed AFP that The Wiener Zeitung was one of the oldest newspapers still in print in 2004.
The newspaper's primary source of income, serving as the official gazette, will be transferred to an independent state-owned internet portal.
In accordance with a European regulation to centralize and disseminate public information online, the administration said, this was the case.
The Wiener Zeitung will launch a media hub, a content agency, and a center for journalist training in the meantime.
Its deputy managing editor Mathias Ziegler told AFP that “some fear that the government simply wants to keep the Wiener Zeitung brand with its 320-year-old history, while nobody knows what the future publication will look like — whether it will still be serious journalism.”
According to the newspaper's trade union, 40 of the more than 200 staff, including 40 journalists, may lose their jobs.
The Wiener Zeitung has a daily circulation of around 20,000 and a weekend readership that is almost double that.
Vera Jourova, vice president of the EU Commission, expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation to the Austrian news agency APA.
“I believe that over the years, the Wiener Zeitung did a good job of informing people.”
On Tuesday, several hundred people demonstrated against the government's decision in Vienna.