2017 Winner

Citizen`s Newspaper - Die Bürgerzeitung

BZV Medienhaus GmbH

Braunschweig, Germany

Category Print Readership or Engagement

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

Journalists in Germany experience a loss in relevance. Social media makes publishing very easy, the classic network system as well as many newspapers are  under great pressure. We fasten our ties to ours readers by being an active part of  their community, taking on their problems, their reasons for concern and insecurity and also by assisting them in finding solutions. To us, journalism  is more than recording what is happening. It is also a question of bringing people together and giving them a voice. By the concept “Bürgerzeitung” we prove our affection, compassion and solidarity every single day. What is more, we transcend the classical role of news-journalism towards a lasting partnership. Digital means of communication have given uns the chance to shift from a mass-media-approach to a more individualised one.  We are quite proud - being a team of about 80 journalists covering a region with a population of one million -, that we cope with the requirements of a challenging concept without  abundant manpower. 

The international newspaper crisis has in Germany received a strong emphasis by extreme right-wing propaganda attacking newspapers and networks as “Lügenpresse”,  an insult intensively used by the Nazis in our country’s darkest years. This proganda meets with a certain amount of frustration of parts of the citizenry with the established politcal parties. Our answer to this assault upon our credibility is not only a maximum of nearness to our readers but a maximum of transparency, including a neutral ombudsman that publishes his verdict in a weekly column, reader’s conferences and many more.

As the Braunschweig-Wolfsburg region is one of the most important centers of science, research and development and  also home of europe’s largest car manufacturer, we are lucky to work within a community of well-trained, open-minded and often internationally experienced citizens. Our concept is beyond the ordinary, because the people around us are.           

Results for this campaign

Compared to the average development of circulation figures, “Braunschweiger Zeitung”  holds it’s ground quite well: The drop of print circulation drops at an average of three per cent and is being compensated by gains in digital sales  and reach.

 The concept of “Bürgerzeitung” has brought us in physical contact with about 6500 readers at 50 events alone in 2016. Among them are meetings with our ombudsman, reader’s conferences, community evenings (we call them “Dorf- und Stadtteilabende”), discussions, workshops with grown-up and adolescent readers, reader’s interviews, all with  ample journalistic  yield.

We have handled  several hundred questions a.k.a. journalistic jobs within our newspaper-pages “Antworten” (answers)  and more than 3127 complaints about problems in public life within our app “Alarm38” (38 being a reference to the postal code of our region). All of the postings in “Alarm38” have been handled, 1870 complaints have been solved.  They were about topics like security issues on childred’s way to schools, shortcomings in sick-treatment or environmental hazard. Readers posted 19828 comments on “Alarm38”. Many of the topics brought to notice via and discussed on “Alarm38” have found their way to the pages of our newspaper, thus making it much more intensensely connected to our reader’s everyday life.

Our strive for being a reader’s true friend and companion has given us the opportunity to  improve things in detail and on a larger scale. Our readers realize that our team is working hard to take part in their lives. They endow us with their trust and appreciation. We are absolutely sure that no-one that has personally experienced our work on the “Bürgerzeitung” will believe in extremist propaganda about biased and arrogant press. Meanwhile, our team has gained  deep insights into the preferences and needs of our readers. They are our guideline towards a relevant journalistic set for years to come.  


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