Few people know the history of the Internet in Romania but yesterday I had the chance to notice the sudden death of local legend – I think it deserves a post.
1996 – The first Romanian newspaper published on the Internet marks the launch of online journalism in Romania. ZIUA was the first general newspaper to walk on the digital world in a time when “e-mail” was considered as hot as “twitter” 🙂
2006 – Top 10 online player – During the years, the brand was challenged by many scandals and urban stories, ex-KGB spooks, secret documents and secret agents, legal and financial matters. The company was bought by local media mogul Sorin Ovidiu Vantu but was considered the “ugly duck” for Realitatea-Catavencu group and was never fully integrated in the group.
2008 – SATI: Affinity for old people – I remember a short episode in 2008 when I saw the first SATI demographics: Ziua.net had a strong affinity for old people and a heavy component of foreign audience: Ziua was also the first romanian newspaper with an online version for romanians living in and USA and Canada.
2009 – November – The Record – 2009 presidential elections in Romania also set a new traffic record for ZIUA: 1.488.159 unique visitors.
2009 – December: The announcement – Sorin Ovidiu Vantu announced his future plans in an interview: his investments will shift towards Internet and the print titles will be either sold or closed down. The news didn’t came as a surprise for people working at ZIUA at that time. The website still had 1.340.620 uv in December 2009.
2010 – January: The end of ZIUA -Â Facing critial financial issues, the newspaper was closed down. Ziua.ro displayed an empty homepage and Ziua.net was suspended. I tried to find out if the website was available for sale – at that time the website counted 1.046.633 unique visitors. I was not the only one interested in the faith of the website, I found out that Sorin Rosca Stanescu, the founder of the newspaper, was also interested in aquiring the domain but was politely declined.
2010 – February – 326.783 unique visitors – 1.000.000+ was a constant number for Ziua.ro in 2009: direct hits, heavy users and a very stable traffic. Last month the website lost this 1.000.000 people.
If you know how hard or how expensive it is to bring 1000 people to a website imagine how is like to lose 1 million visitors in a market like Romania. I understand the reasons for closing down the print edition but I have no idea what went wrong with the online edition nor how the strategists in the group missed the potential and the market share of the website… after all, it was the first online newspaper in Romania.