18 Feb 2005 pipeman   » (Journeyer)

The end of an era (probably maybe)

The world's oldest still running newspaper, Post- och inrikes tidningar [swe] (PoIT), which is the Swedish official announcement body, may be shut down and replaced with digital publishing on the web. It has been published for 360 years, starting at 1645 under the rule of Queen Kristina as they supposedly needed a government voice to tackle rumour problems and present an official Swedish view on national and international events.

In 1791, King Gustav III appoints the publishing rights for PoIT to The Swedish Academy, founded by him five years earlier to nurture the Swedish language and literature. The Swedish Academy is still, 214 years later, the official publisher of the paper. Many different kinds of public announcements, such as information about bankruptcies, are required by Swedish law [swe] to be advertised in Post- och inrikes tidningar. It is also regulated in law that the advertiser much pay an advertising fee. The by far largest PoIT advertiser is the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (PRV), which alone contributes about SEK 20 million (about USD 2.9 million) annually in advertising fees to the Swedish Academy. The surplus is used to fund the creation of the very ambitious project SAOB [swe](Svenska Akademiens Ordbok or Swedish Academy Word Book) (website [swe]), an attempt to document the usage of the Swedish language since 1521 and onward. That is, they practically document the meaning of every word used in society, similar to The Oxford English Dictionary, in contrast to an ordinary dictionary, which would not bother documenting words that hasn't been in use for several hundred years.

In 2001, the Riksdag commissioned the administration [swe] to streamline the somewhat bloated and expensive announcement body and suggest a change in law so that PRV could publish their own announcement on the Internet instead of in PoIT. The paper currently has an edition of a couple of thousand copies. Following this, the magazine Ny Teknik now tells us [swe] that it is being suggested that the Swedish Academy should transfer the publishing rights of PoIT to The Swedish Companies Registration Office (Bolagsverket) which would then publish the newspaper on the Internet, updated daily. In return, the Swedish Academy will receive a SEK 20 million per year, to compensate for the income loss and facilitate the continued funding of the SAOB project.

footnote: links marked with [swe] are web pages in Swedish only

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