On Thursday, December 23, the last issue of the printed edition of Ziarul de Gardă in 2021 appeared. It was a difficult year for Moldova, for its citizens, and for us. Lawsuits, limited access to information, countless requests from readers, threats from the corrupt, half of the editorial staff infected with COVID-19, some members of the editorial staff hospitalized, some employees left, others we have not yet found, financial difficulties, distribution issues. These are just some of the many challenges and complications.
But in many ways, it was the most beautiful year in the entire history of ZdG. In addition to the fact that the weekly print editions, but also our website and social media pages have been full of good material all year round, in addition to the fact that many prosecutors, parliamentarians, integrity inspectors, police, ministers, and other public authorities have used the ZdG materials to document and use them in confirming acts of corruption, in addition to the fact that the ZdG team again won prizes in the most important journalistic competitions, in addition, in 2021, we had an absolute record for circulation. This year, Ziarul de Gardă was the most subscribed Romanian-language newspaper in Moldova. And not only.
There is no greater pride for a journalist than the audience. All the awards in the world would mean nothing if the reporter did not have an audience. Yes, we know, Moldova does not boast too much about newspaper readers, because people use massively TV or the Internet.
What does a newspaper mean for a state? What does the newspaper with the highest circulation mean for the smallest state? What does it mean for an investigative newspaper to be the most subscribed newspaper in a very corrupt and poor country? It means an act of heroism, it means the highest degree of serving the public interest.
I will try to explain this in other examples. Japan is a small state, but with a large and highly educated population. Japan has some of the most subscribed newspapers in the world. Yomiuri Shimbun has a circulation of almost 8 million copies per edition, ie 16 Japanese citizens have an edition of this newspaper. Amazing.
But what about reading newspapers in Europe? We will not look at English-language newspapers that are subscribed to in many countries around the world. Let’s take Germany. The most popular German newspaper is called Bild and has a circulation of over 1.5 million copies per edition, which means that 55 Germans have an edition of this newspaper. In France, the largest newspaper is the famous Le Monde and, respectively, 167 French people have an edition of this newspaper.
What about Romania? According to a recent article published by Cătălin Tolontan, the edition with the highest circulation would be Click with 36,000 copies, followed by Libertatea with 18,000 copies, then Gazeta Sporturilor with 10,000 copies. The figures show better than in Moldova, where the largest Romanian-language newspaper, ZdG, has only 12,000 copies. But Romania has a population about 7 times larger than our country. So, relating the circulation of these newspapers to the number of population, a number of Click returns to 500 Romanians, a number of Libertatea – to 1,000 Romanians, a number of Gazeta Sportulor to 2,000 Romanians, and a number of Ziarul de Gardă – 200 Bessarabians. Yes, it turns out that ZdG would have the largest circulation in the Romanian space, in relation to the population.
And there is another important moment regarding the uniqueness of ZdG, even in comparison with the most read Japanese, German newspaper, or the largest newspaper in Romania. I want to draw attention to the kind of journalism that the biggest newspapers in the world do. Bild is a tabloid that publishes simplified and easy-to-digest journalism. So is Click in Romania. In this list, ZdG is the only one with a clearly stated purpose to which it has been devoted for 17 years, since its launch: investigative journalism, dedicated to fighting corruption and upholding human rights.
It seems to be a very selfish text. But it’s the end of the year, the totals of a difficult year are made, and the figures I presented above are absolutely real. It is a text of great gratitude for the 12,000 subscribers, you are magnificent and you have raised us so high that it made us dizzy.
At the close of this edition, we found out that by 2022 we already have more subscribers than in 2021. Probably, we remain the largest Romanian language newspaper in the entire Romanian space. But in this Romanian space, there is a newspaper with an even bigger circulation, and it is in Russian, it is called Комсомольская правда and it is edited, financed and distributed by the Kremlin. In the smallest state in Europe, the government of the largest kleptocratic state distributes its newspapers, televisions, radios more than anyone. Maybe libraries, town halls, ministries, prosecutor’s offices should subscribe to us? Prisons already have done that. We stay on guard.