There should be a Swiss edition.
There should be a Swiss edition.

I confess that I don’t read Swiss news from national Swiss news outlets as often as I should. I have the Tribune de Genève and 20 Minutes apps on my phone but seldom open them to check out the latest in Geneva and beyond. I tend to go for English news about Switzerland at the lesser known Le News and’s coverage in particular tends to be a bit more critical of Switzerland or just a bit quirky sometimes.

F’s cousin and wife on the other hand, have a habit of reading local news – and what they pointed out to us the other day completely blew my mind.

A news articles from one Swiss newspaper can be found in other Swiss newspapers – and I don’t mean an article on a similar topic reporting the same thing in a different way. I mean using the same exact title, photo and text. What ever happened to the concept of freedom of the press and competing opinions? Why bother having different newspapers at all if the basic information printed in them is the same?

Because most people, like me, probably haven’t even taken notice.

Take the following articles, for example: one from the Tribune de Genève, another from 20 Minutes and another from 24 Heures (neighboring Lausanne’s most popular newspaper). Notice that the text, the titles – minus a small variation here and there – and the photo chosen to go with the article are exactly the same. Oh yeah, and none of the articles have an author.

Apparently this is all happening because the majority of the Swiss news outlets are now owned by one media company: Zurich-based Tamedia Publications Romands SA.

To see all of the newspapers controlled by Tamedia, simply scroll down on the 20 Minutes homepage where you’ll see a list of its “partner sites:”

I’m sure that if you look for the same article that I use as an example above in all of these partner sites, or if you tried doing the same with another article, you would find it along with the same title, photo, and text across the ‘different’ newspapers.

According to an article by Werner A. Meier on the media landscape in Switzerland published by the European Journalism Centre, Tamedia acquired 49.9 percent of Edipresse in 2009, “the leading publishing house in the French-speaking part of Switzerland,” which controls [or controlled] two-thirds of the newspaper circulation in that language part. Since 2011, when the Tamedia takeover went into effect, Tamedia holds the majority.

In Meier’s words, “It is worth pointing to the fact that with this takeover a publishing house situated in the German speaking part of Switzerland will soon control the majority of the leading newspapers in the French speaking part.”

How do the French-speaking Swiss feel about having a German-owned media company running most, if not all, of their newspapers and curating their news for them? Switzerland has no national newspapers, only regional ones, due to the different languages in the country. But will Tamedia soon become the national news provider?

Meier claims that this has happened because “[m]edia concentration forces single newspaper titles to merge or to shut down. More and more small and medium-size newspapers have been forced out of the market or have been taken over by large publishing companies” and the economic downturn in 2008 didn’t help either.

I would love to host a discussion about this and get some Swiss French and Swiss Germans in the room.