Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again

July 6, 2009

German publisher Axel Springer plans to launch an international weekly edition of its flagship daily, Die Welt, in a 48-page tabloid format starting February 2010. Springer is still mulling distribution options but the paper will likely be available from airlines.

Die Welt is a conservative daily founded in 1946 by British occupying forces after the Second World War and acquired by Axel Springer in 1953. It has around 690,000 readers.

The thinking at Springer Verlag is that Die Welt could fill a void for non-German readers who are interested in news from continental Europe, while attracting lucrative new advertising customers.

That’s an interesting idea, considering the current dismal state of newspapers and remembering past attempts of others to attract English readers.

In April 2000, the F.A.Z. launched an English edition as a supplement in the International Herald Tribune – in what the New York Times called an opening up of “the first-class coverage of one of Germany’s best newspapers to the English speaking audience”.  That project was a first in German publishing.

But just two years later, F.A.Z. was forced to reduce it to a weekly edition and eventually had to close the project down altogether as money grew tight. 

Der Spiegel’s foray into the Anglophone world never got past special English editions on single topic issues despite dreams of an “English Spiegel”. However, it has been successful with its English website

So, Springer’s loss making Welt aims to prevail where the country’s most reputable newspaper and the country’s leading news magazine failed.

Good luck and let’s remember this: Die Welt tried to address English speaking readers before. In October 1999, its Berlin section had one page in English and in April in the following year, an English page was added to its national edition. 

It never did catch on.

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