30 Years of Business News That Works
Much to my surprise, our youngest child and only son turned 10 towards the end of October. I have long thought that once you get beyond your first child (we have three), they collectively act as time thieves, stealthily creeping up on you in years without your noticing. Our eldest is in university, and the middle child will become a teenager next year, for crying out loud.
Imagine, then, how the founders of this publication must feel. On November 9, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first issue of the Budapest Business Journal hitting the streets. Thirty years is the sort of period that can sound, in almost equal measure, like it is something special or nothing much at all. Let me assure you that, from the point of view of those on the inside, it’s a lot! To give you some context, the BBJ is the oldest English-language publication in continuous publication (not counting our annual holiday in August) in the country.
The Journal was not the first English-language newspaper. That accolade went to the now-defunct Budapest Week, which first appeared in March 1991, according to its Wikipedia page. It ceased printing around the year 2000 and kept going online for a while, though there no longer appears to be a functioning website. The world of second-language publications tends to be somewhat incestuous, though. Much like the circus community, we all know at least some of the main characters around, and I am delighted to report that a couple of the founders have launched a project with the Donald and Vera Blinken Open Society Archives to digitize the first four years of the Week.
Nor was that the only competitor. For 10 years, I worked for another, The Budapest Sun, established in the same year as the BBJ, and the last issue of which was printed in January 2009, a few months after I left. Other titles came and went. Budapest Times appeared in 2003 as a weekly. According to its website, it has been monthly since 2017, though I can’t tell you the last time I saw a copy. Another publication called Seven appeared just once before it vanished under the weight of expectation and hope meeting reality.
A newspaper does not stay in print through luck alone, and certainly not for 30 years. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is bloody hard work. It requires determination, hard work, investment of time and money, and a clear idea of who your market is and how you aim to serve it. Our mission statement, to the left of this editorial, if you are reading the print version, makes the bold claim that we aspire to be the most trusted newspaper in Hungary. It is the latest iteration of the promise made back in 1992 that we would be a source of “Business news that works.”
The current Hungarian owners and management have been in place for the best part of a decade. Several members of today’s staff started their careers at the BBJ, went off to other pastures, and returned. I have been the editor since 2016 and involved in one way or another since 2010: we have our fingerprints on the Journal’s continued development. But I’ll leave the final words to a man whose name is widely associated with the first decade of the BBJ, publisher Stephen O’Connor. It will surprise none who know him to hear he is “rolling the dice on another startup” in the United States. A few days ago, he sent the following message: “Thanks to the team for keeping our baby alive and kicking and even in print!”
This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of November 7, 2022.
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