Riga, 9 October, 2009

Nellija Ločmele, editor in chief of the publishing house Dienas mediji, and Anita Brauna, editor in chief of the newspaper Diena, together with a number of influential Diena journalists are leaving the newspaper because the actions and statements of Aleksandrs Tralmaks, the owner of the newspaper’s holding company AS Diena, compromise Diena’s values and undermine quality journalism at the newspaper.

In addition to the editors, the following journalists are leaving Diena: one of the newspaper’s founders — editorial page editor Pauls Raudseps, senior reporters Sanita Jemberga, Inga Spriņģe, Baiba Rulle and Rita Ruduša, the editor of Diena’s Saturday supplement Sestdiena Dace Smildziņa, political correspondent Ināra Egle and the lifestyle correspondent Anda Burve Rozīte.

These journalists are leaving Diena for two reasons. First of all, for fourteen weeks Mr. Tralmaks was unable to publicly name the individuals or companies that financed the purchase of AS Diena, and his announcement this Friday about the involvement of the Rowland family from Great Britain has raised more questions than it answers. This lengthy uncertainty has done significant damage to Diena’s credibility.

Second, the journalists and the ownership have serious differences regarding the future of the newspaper. Diena’s editors believe that the owners’ planned business model, which includes a proposal to cut editorial expenses by over 50%, threatens the very existence of Diena as a quality newspaper.

In the hope of preserving Diena as an independent quality newspaper, a group of editors made an offer to buy the publishing house Dienas mediji, but this offer was refused.

“Trust is the foundation of serious journalism. If there are unanswered questions about who really owns Diena and if the editorial staff has no reason to believe that Diena will continue to be a quality newspaper, then we cannot continue working there and at the same time maintain our readers’ trust,” says Nellija Ločmele.

The editorial team is convinced that Latvia needs an independent publication that provides its readers with reliable news, analysis and commentary. So, after a short rest, we will begin working towards this goal. You will be able to follow our progress at https://citadiena.wordpress.com.

Diena was founded in 1990 and up to now has been one of the most respected and influential newspapers in Latvia. In July of this year the previous majority owner of AS Diena, the Swedish media company The Bonnier Group, suddenly sold AS Diena to Nedela S.A., a Luxembourg based company owned by Aleksandrs Tralmaks. Mr. Tralmaks’ inability to name the persons or companies that financed this deal has raised concerns both in Latvia and abroad.

Contacts:

Nellija Ločmele    (+371 2947 3690)

Anita Brauna       (+371 2941 3599)

Pauls Raudseps    (+371 2950 1962)

Sanita Jemberga  (+371 2911 8845)

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