Projekt N proves Slovaks value real journalism

by Jane Whyatt, research Dr Petra Gausti
When a new owner bought Slovakia’s SME newspaper group and announced his intention of running it for his commercial interests, something snapped in the newsroom.

Journalists led by Editor-in-Chief Matúš Kostolný decided to quit. And not only to quit, but to start their own newspaper. They would continue to produce independent, critical news reports and investigations and they would not accept editorial interference by owners or advertisers.

The result: Projekt N

Projekt N Projekt N (Screenshot)

It was crowdsourced from the readers buying subscriptions – even before the first edition was produced. That is because the journalists involved had a good standing in investigative journalism"

says Dr Petra Gausti of Prague and Mainz Universities. She was speaking at the annual Media Law conference at Frankfurt–on-Oder in Germany. Projekt N was cited as a good example of a new business model for independent journalists in a media landscape that is increasingly dominated by a few big owners.

It was founded in 2014 and almost 80 members of staff from the old SME media group joined the new online startup. They won a further boost when Slovak software company ESET announced it was investing in Projekt N – but with no strings attached. ESET describes the move as a personal investment by six of its executives and maintains it has the same relationship to Projekt N as to any other media.