Requiem for a Newspaper...

SvAIn February 2020, the last issue of the oldest Slovak newspaper on the American continent was published. The monthly magazine Slovák v Amerike in its February issue informs its readers with melancholy that they have the last issue in their hands, and publishing of the magazine is coming to an end.

It sounds like a mourning announcement and I personally feel the event as if a close friend or family member had died. A piece of my journalistic activity is also connected with Slovak in America. From 1959 until the death of its publisher and editor-in-chief, Dr. Jozef Paučo (in 1975) I was a regular contributor to this - at that time varied and popular – weekly, and to its yearbook The Slovak Almanac in America. Not only did my shorter articles appeared there, but the newspaper published, in installments, my first books: The Incredible Conspiracy; Seventeen Fertile Years; The Slovak Question in the West in 1939-1940; and others.

My sadness is all the greater and deeper because with the Slovák v Amerike, an extremely interesting and so far little appreciated epoch of Slovak journalism in America and outside of Slovakia in general, is practically closing. As far as I know, there are only two magazines published on the North American continent today: once a weekly, now the Jednota monthly in Middletown, PA and once a weekly, and now the biweekly The Canadian Slovak in Toronto, ON. This is a torso of a work that is truly magnificent in its scope and content. As Konstantin Čulen, a tireless researcher and chronicler of American-Slovak life, found out, since 1886, when the first Slovak magazine in America was published - Amerikanszko-Slovenszke noviny - until 1960, "more than 230 different types of Slovak magazines were published in the United States ... including 11 daily newspapers. "

The first issue of Slovák v Amerike was published on December 21, 1889 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. The magazine was published with one short break for more than 130 years, initially as a weekly, from 1914 as a daily, in the years 1918-1935 it was published three times a week. It was not published from June to August 1935. From August 1935 to October 1945 it was published twice a week, later (from November 1945) as a weekly. Its editor during this period was Ján Scíranka. Scíranka was a very contradictory personality of an unstable nature, and under his editing the magazine fell apart, so it was in danger of extinction. It was saved from such an unworthy end by a self-sacrificing, nationally sensitive and enterprising Rev. Ján Lach, pastor of the Slovak settlement of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary in Whiting, IN., who bought the magazine in 1951 and entrusted its publication to the writer Ján Okáľ. In 1958 Fr. Lach generously handed over the magazine to the then chairman of the Slovak League in America and the editor-in-chief of the weekly Jednota, Filip J. Hrobák. In the summer of 1963, shortly before his death, Filip Hrobák handed over the magazine to Dr. J. Paučo, who became its owner, publisher and editor-in-chief. Under his professional editing, the magazine lived through its golden age.
Premature death of Dr. J. Paučo in 1975 was a great loss for the cultural and national life of American Slovaks. Michal and Jozef Krajsa became its new owners (Jozef C. Krajsa was the editor-in-chief of the weekly Jednota and Michal was his son).

The new format and new leadership failed to maintain the popularity of the Slovak in America, and the number of its subscribers significantly declined. So much so that in April 1989 the Krajsa family announced that if no new interested party was found to continue publishing the magazine, the end of the year would be the end of Slovák v Amerike. The interested party was found in the person of the journalist and national activist Ján Holý, who organized a publishing cooperative and he himself took over the editing of the magazine. Under his editorial staff, the magazine was published as a monthly magazine until the end of 2008.

In January 2009, brothers Milan and Jaroslav Čuba became its owners and publishers. Despite the respectable efforts of the Čuba brothers, it was not possible to keep the magazine alive, and after 130 years of almost uninterrupted publication, this "oldest Slovak magazine in America" ​​also disappeared.

The archive of Slovák v Amerike is still available at http://www.slovakvamerike.com/noviny.php

The magazine dug a deep furrow and played an important role in the struggle for the free and independent existence of the nation under the Tatras. Out heartful thanks to all of its dedicated editors.

František Vnuk

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