Former Laureates

Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Die Zeit, Neue Zürcher Zeitung


The 1979 Erasmus Prize was awarded to journalism, since the freedom of the press is one of the most important fundamental rights of our democratic society. The printed word, in widely differing newspapers, mirrors the multiformity of that society. The press is, moreover, better able than the spoken word to supply detailed and probing information, which the reader can absorb at his or her own pace whenever he or she wishes. Two high quality newspapers were chosen as prize-winners: the two-hundred-year-old Swiss daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the German weekly Die Zeit, which had existed for only three decades.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung was awarded the prize as one of the oldest independent newspapers distinguished by a many-sided news service, adverse to sensation and accompanied by detailed and searching comment.

Die Zeit received the prize because in post-war Germany it emerged as one of the first free press-organs, based on an individualistic concept of humanity, and developed into an authoritative independent weekly paper of high quality, with room for a diversity of opinions. Through its broad readership Die Zeit has played an important part in the forming of a free public opinion and in the process of democratisation within Germany.

The prize for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung was accepted by Dr. F. Luchsinger, chief editor; the prize for Die Zeit by Countess Marion Dönhoff, the paper’s co-founder and publisher.
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung used the Erasmus Prize to publish a book to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the newspaper in 1980. The publication Liberalismus-nach wie vor contains essays by different authors on the meaning and the future of liberalism and its position in present society.
The publisher of Die Zeit, Marion Dönhoff, used the money of the Erasmus Prize to support young journalists from Communist and Third World countries to practice their profession, through financial help or a traineeship at the Die Zeit offices in Hamburg.