The Swiss press
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Switzerland has a clutch of newspapers – more than 200 nationwide – but almost without exception they’re parochial local news-sheets, reporting cantonal and municipal affairs in some detail, but relegating the rest of Switzerland, let alone the world, to a few inside columns. It’s a mark of differing attitudes within the country that whereas French-speaking Swiss regularly turn to Paris’s Le Monde or Libération for opinion from beyond their own borders, and the Ticinesi are happy to jump on the coat-tails of Milan’s Corriere della Sera, newspapers from Germany have barely any readers at all amongst the proudly Swiss-minded German-speakers south of the border.

Zürich’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, or NZZ, is the best known of Swiss newspapers. Conservative and highbrow in the extreme – you’ll never see a photo on its close-printed front page – it nonetheless has gained its reputation by reporting Swiss and world events with scrupulously high journalistic standards. If the NZZ has a francophone equivalent, it’s the much more dynamic Le Temps, published in Geneva and formed from the 1998 merger of the Journal de Genève (one of Switzerland’s oldest newspapers) and the Nouveau Quotidien (one of its youngest). Fiercely pro-EU, with consistently progressive stances on social and political issues, it’s the only Swiss newspaper that makes it onto Paris newsstands each morning. Otherwise, the field is thin, though Zürich’s quality Tages Anzeiger offers a lively alternative to the NZZ’s ponderousness. Switzerland’s biggest-selling paper is Blick, a blaring, reactionary rag that regularly espouses anti-immigration and anti-asylum causes.

Of the weeklies, Die Weltwoche offers quality, left-leaning world news analysis, while the Wochen Zeitung, or WOZ, has a radical alternative agenda, pushing green issues particularly strongly and packaging once a month the German translation of the highly respected journal of world affairs Le Monde Diplomatique. Lausanne’s L’Hebdo leads the field of francophone weeklies, but lacks any kind of newsy bite.

The Arts Council of Switzerland Pro Helvetia twice a year publishes Passages, a heavily intellectual compendium of musings on Swiss culture and society, interviews with Swiss artists and short fiction, all translated into English. Subscriptions are free if you live outside Switzerland: contact Pro Helvetia, Information and Press, Postfach, CH-8024 Zürich (01/267 71 71, fax 267 71 06, mlarre@pro-helvetia.ch).

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