marți, 3 iulie 2018, 4:01
Cătălin Tolontan (editor in chief GSP, Bucharest)
It is a good day for the industry, especially in times when journalism gets mostly bad news.
When Ringier, a Swiss corporation with a 200-year reputed history, buys a Romanian newspaper, Gazeta Sporturilor (GSP), which also enjoys a resilient presence of almost 100 years, the announcement comes as a statement that journalism matters.
Newsrooms remain a critical member of their communities.
85 persons, journalists but also people from other areas of expertise, like marketing, digital and advertising will go to Ringier
Recent studies in the US (Paul Gao, associate professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame) show that in the cities where the local newspapers have disappeared, the municipality costs get higher as the public scrutiny regarding expenses weakens.
And a democracy without journalism is like a world soccer championship where your team defeats Argentina and Germany but no one finds out.
Today is a good day and it all comes after loads of hard work.
By acquiring the GSP newsroom, Ringier buys passion, perseverance and the ability of the reporters to do things that are relevant to their peers; all of which is achieved through the ways and means of a rather small group of people.
My colleagues’ nerve made up for the scarce resources on the market.
Embracing the digital transformations has provided us with rhythm.
And the balanced command of the business, achieved by the management team, through marketing, inserts, distribution channels and innovative advertising, has provided our newsroom the capital to produce high-quality journalism.
We were not faultless, but we have kept on learning.
Just an example: during the very period when advertising sales from the press dropped by 90%, the Romanian state budget gained 10 million euros, as a result of the criminal trials based upon journalistic investigations undergone by GSP.
The capital returned to the public interest still piles up.
80 millions of pageviews has gsp.ro in June 2018 according to BRAT (Romanian Joint Industry Committee for Print and internet)
Intact Media Group has owned Gazeta Sporturilor for 18 years, including a whole arduous recession decade. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t pay in due time all expenses, taxes and partners.
Furthermore, Intact has fully respected the editorial freedom of the newsroom.
Now, when others can provide a more accelerated growth for the GSP brand, Intact sells Gazeta to Ringier, similar to how in 2000 Ringier was passing it down to Intact.
As a reporter, I remember from the press conference held in the summer of 2000 in Bucharest these exact words of the Ringier executives: “We pass forward Gazeta to provide a better chance for the newspaper”.
Today, the title takes the road back.
There will be a second minority owner, a Ringier partner, the Bulgarian company in charge of Sportal.bg, the most notable and best internationally connected sports site from the neighboring country.
It is a fair deal but also a token of fair-play.
As for the future, Ringier operates media businesses worth 1 billion euros per year, in 18 countries on three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.
The deal was closed exclusively between owners.
We only had profession-related discussions.
After the talks in Bucharest, we went to Zurich, looked into each others’ eyes and settled things with just a few words. In the Ringier newsroom in Dufourstrasse, the old quarter of the Swiss press, there was nothing to be negotiated, as the journalistic cultures of Ringier and Gazeta are kindred and the professional freedom is not negotiable.
The print edition of Gazeta Sporturilor carries on, the Ringier philosophy stating that the print media will exist for as long as the readers will demand it.
GSP.ro will grow and will assimilate, at a pace quick as a wink, artificial intelligence and the technologies that help us share with you more quickly the result of our work.
Our job as journalists stays the same: to provide people with the most interesting and relevant information concerning the forces that shape their lives.
With the editorial team from GSP on their hands, Ringier and Sportal.bg signed up for big trouble!
Even if I told them that, they are already used to it.
4 attempts made Ringier on Romanian sports news industry: Gazeta Sporturilor (2000), ProSport (2003), Sportnews (2014), Gazeta Sporturilor (2018)
During the last decade, such an initiative has been hard to find all around Europe – spectacular moves through which an international media group buys a significant classic national title.
Hyper-adapted to the digital, GSP traces back from what we call “legacy media”, comprising in its proteins the advantages and the vulnerabilities of journalism, centennial as far as norms are concerned and profane by its audacity.
This day says something both about Ringier, as well as GSP.
11 years ago, during an interview for the Torneo magazine, when the teams that are joining forces today were fiercely competing, Michael Ringier called his group “a media elephant in Eastern Europe”.
It was a playful endearment which nevertheless predicted the stubbornness and the desire to adapt.
Yet we, ourselves ,were not quitters.
We are doers.
11 years after, the press elephants are still on their feet; furthermore, they are more powerful, more followed and more trustworthy than ever before.
We are obviously faulty and still have a lot to learn.
Press matters and its responsibility continues to grow.
As Yuval Noah Harari would say in “Homo Deus”: ”In the past, censorship worked by blocking off the influx of information. Meanwhile, In the 21st century, censorship works by bombarding people with irrelevant information”.
Or, as another academician, of real life, our former boss Adrian Sarbu would say to Mihnea Vasiliu, when we were working at Prosport and we would come up with an annoying subject: “Mihnea, what are we going to do with those punks of journalists from Ioanitoaia’s gang?”
At the present, Mihnea Vasiliu is the head of Ringier Romania and has decided that the thing to be done with “those punks of journalists from Ioanitoaia’s gang” is to hire them and set them free.
In the new world of change and speed, the need for informed conversation is higher than ever.
Journalism matters and Ringier has the reputation of political non-partisanship which is so valuable nowadays.
Before anything else, the Ringier – Sportal – GSP deal talks about the good vibe towards the readers of the newspaper, of the site and of the blogs created by the editorial team.
“All the Readers’ Men”, this is a possible headline of the day.
It best clarifies the purchase of the GSP brand.
With a vivid press, you are in touch with the ins and outs of the World Cup but also with several disturbing deeds, which we owe to the one and only owner of the content.
Because, no matter who owns the Gazeta Sporturilor title, the content has belonged since our beginning back in 1924, to only one owner.