Exberliner goes deutsch

"Und das ist auch gut so..." After a lot of deliberation regarding ourselves and the changing social landscape of the city, we've made a radical decision: Read on to find out what future holds in store for Berlin's international magazine.

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After 12 years of serving Berlin’s expat community in English, we’re finally going native. Following a meeting of our board of shareholders, publishers and managing directors and after extensive consultation with the business and editorial teams, Exberliner has decided that, from the beginning of May on, the magazine’s entire output – both print and online – will be available in German. Although we’re planning to run a couple of “transitional” issues, with articles alternating in German and English, we’re aiming to publish exclusively auf deutsch as of September 1. The changes will be adopted by every department of Exberliner: after this summer, we will no longer be accepting advertising featuring English copy.

We are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible; therefore, in addition to enrolling our existing staff members in intensive German courses, we’ll be hiring a team of professional German editors, and are proud and excited to be opening our editorial content to German-language contributions.

It was not an easy decision to make, and obviously we know we’re taking on a more competitive market, but despite the risks it seemed like a logical step to take. Our reader surveys have shown that some 70 percent of Exberliner readers are fluent in German, and that as many as 30 percent are actually German themselves. Furthermore, the recent de facto merger of Tip and Zitty magazines under the roof of a single publishing house (Zippy?) has made it painfully clear that Berlin needs more quality German journalism. Our decision is also part of a wider initiative – we’re partnering with the Goethe Institute to promote German to foreigners inside Germany. As Berlin’s leading international publication, the institute felt that we were the ideal partners for the campaign.

But that’s not the main reason why we’re making the switch. As our chief editor Nadja Vancauwenberghe put it, “It’s a matter of principle. We’ve decided that we can no longer put out an English-only magazine when the city is gentrifying at such an alarming rate. English magazines are just another way of marginalising Berlin’s native communities. We think that’s wrong. Basically, we’re drawing the natural and honest conclusion from our slogan: SAVE BERLIN,” she added, referring to the magazine’s 2009 conference and ongoing campaign to address the city’s problems creatively.

“We don’t want to be part of the problem,” added web editor Walter Crasshole. “Sometimes it feels like German is a dying language in this city we love. Why do Germans always answer in English when you make the effort to say something in German? It’s sad that there are, apparently, so many English speakers in the city that they feel like this is the only way they can communicate in their own capital.”

“I’ve been learning German ever since I arrived here five years ago, and I think everyone who lives here should too,” he also said.

Finally, we have to mention another decisive factor in our decision: the debate sparked by the infamous “Sorry, no German!” rant we published in February last year. We don’t mind admitting it got us thinking – as many readers pointed out in the comments section – are we being a bit hypocritical? If there is a problem with too many expats not bothering to learn German when they settle in the city, isn’t it partly our fault? That’s a question we’ve been avoiding for too long now.

So to all our faithful readers: thanks for all your support – now it’s time to learn your der die das!