By Jaroslaw Adamowksi | @JaroslawAdamows
‘We Fight, but Sometimes Need To Laugh’Following the success of a crowdfunding campaign that allowed the independent Czech independent Deník N to open a print edition last year, the daily news medium now anticipates running its own publishing house with its first two books by its journalists slated for October.
Building on its previous crowdfunding campaign, the paper managed to collect more than 150 percent of its financial target many days before the deadline.
Deník N was founded by a group of journalists seeking editorial independence from the large media groups that dominate the Czech media landscape. Its parent company is the publisher of Slovakia’s paper Deník N. The N stands for nezávislý, or “independent” in Slovak.
Initially am online medium, the daily was tied to coverage of a political scandal that shook Slovakia and exposed corruption among its top politicians. Seeking editorial independence, the reporters decided to leave the country’s bestselling daily SME after discovering that a financial group they reported on in relation to the scandal became involved in a transaction to acquire a 45-percent stake in their employer. (Here is NiemanLab coverage of that story.)
Today, Denník N is one of Slovakia’s leading quality newspapers.
In 2018, its publisher supported the establishment of a similar daily in neighboring Czech Republic, acquiring a minority stake. The effort supported Czech journalists in their crowdfunding project, which distributed the majority of the shares in Deník N to individual investors.
After the daily’s digital version was opened in October 2018, the company collected a further 7 million Czech koruna (US$303,000) through crowdfunding, enabling Deník N to begin its print sales the following year.
October: Edice N, Book Publishing, Is to Open
In October, the Czech paper is set to open its publishing house, Edice N, starting with the release of two books by its journalists.
- Americký deník (The American Diary) by the paper’s US correspondent Jana Ciglerová
- Věda podle abecedy (Science by the Alphabet) by tech and science editor Petr Koubský
As of Tuesday (May 29), the crowdfunding campaign had brought in some about 455,000 koruna (US$19,600), 52 percent more than the initial target of 300,000 koruna (US$13,000).
“When we first started as Deník N,” Ciglerová tells Publishing Perspectives, we asked people if they were interested in us launching a new daily through a crowdfunding campaign. We became the Czech Republic’s No. 1 the record holder for income raised in crowdfunding, beating the record-holder at the time, [Czech journalist] Dan Priban and his travels through Africa.
“The second time we asked people if they liked the idea of me and Petr Koubský publishing books about our work, we got what we asked for in three days. So far, we’ve gathered almost 150 percent and we still have 21 days left.”
“A Czech mom adjusting to life in a middle-class part of South Florida that’s dominated by the Hispanic community turns out to be of great interest to Czechs.”Jana Ciglerová
Ciglerová first traveled to the States in December 2016. What she thought would be a short stay turned into a longer stint as the paper’s US correspondent—as the activities of Donald Trump’s administration spurred interest in Ciglerová’s articles among the paper’s Czech readers. She’s currently based in Miami.
“As a foreign correspondent,” she says, “I cover three types of news: my own stories, the US events, and my regular personal column. My stories are fun, that’s the real reporting, on the spot, in the field, talking to people, discovering my own angle.
“American events are fantastically covered by the US media, which I watch and gather info from. But my personal column, called ‘The American Diary,” is what people love the most to read from the United States: A Czech mom adjusting to life in a middle-class part of South Florida that’s dominated by the Hispanic community turns out to be of great interest to Czechs.”
She says that according to Deník N’s statistics, she is the paper’s most popular writer online among its subscribers.
“And that’s why our publisher came up with the idea to publish my diaries as a book—not only because it’s worthwhile, but also because I’ll be now leaving the States and our readers will appreciate a beginning and an end to my American diaries.
“Plus, it helps to strengthen our brand, especially at this early stage of the book publishing venture.”
As a populist wave sweeps through the Czech Republic, the correspondent says she hopes her forthcoming book will put the country’s political turmoil into some perspective for Czech readers.
“The success of the diaries,” she says, “is only thanks to the excellent serious reporting work of my colleagues. They do so much hardcore reportage and investigative work that our readers sometimes need a rest, something light and maybe funny from elsewhere, something that lets them relax from the everyday heavy and sometimes hopeless events of the Czech Republic.
“Our country is now again in a transitional moment in which things are bad, but can get even worse. We fight, but sometimes we need to forget all about it and laugh a bit, feel good about ourselves,” says the columnist and author Jana Ciglerová.