Cafébabel's APRIL FOOL: 15 years and no longer counting

Article published on April 1, 2016
Article published on April 1, 2016

APRIL FOOL: The kind of article I dreaded one day having to write: cafébabel is no more. This decision, however difficult, has been taken collective by our entire team. After 15 years of life, we prefer to finish this adventure with dignity – ceasing all activity from the 1st of November 2016 – while inviting you to one final celebration in Paris to see out 15 years of exceptional journalism.

Our dearest readers,

We assure you this decision has not been easy to make. For me, first and foremost, representing the last of the cafébabel cofounders, the living memory of the media that we created along with AdrinoSimonNicola and all the others when we were students at the IEP in Strasbourg. But also for all of cafébabel's staff; colleagues who became, over the course of the years, friends with whom I shared more than simply a professional journey, but also a life project. Thank you to Katha in particular, who has stayed by my side for more than eight years, but also to my European team: Matthieu and Pia as editors; AliceAnthony and Pierre who have joined the adventure more recently; and LorenzoNaiaraJoeLucrezia and Natalia, our service civiques.

Today, the economic model of our association is choking itself. We have not been able to design a long-lasting economic business model that allows our structure to cope with the continuing decline in public and private funding. Nor have we wanted to renounce our editorial charter, or the notion of a participative model that relies on volunteers, by going down the road of sponsored content.

But more importantly, we have understood that the political landscape has radically changed in the last 15 years. The European ideal that reigned during the creation of cafébabel by a handful of Erasmus students carried by a wave of Euphoria is no more. Today, we consider the European dream to be dead and buried, and that we, young Europeans, no longer have our spirits in a Europe that fails to respond to the blaring warning signs of racism and xenophobia.

But let's not be bitter. Over 15 years, our mad wager has been successful, creating the first multilingual media that addresses all Europeans directly, not just the specialists. Cafébabel was the dream of an online platform that transcended national and linguistic borders and that gave young Europeans a voice. It was also a gamble, nowadays taken by numerous other media yet never equaled, to conduct quality participatory journalism, thanks to a unique network of volunteer journalists, photographers and filmmakers from all corners of the continent, and a team of professional European journalists in Paris. In the end, cafébabel also embodied the Tower of Babel, emblem of multilinguism, with articles published in FrenchEnglishGermanItalianSpanish and Polish.

It is with a huge amount of sadness, but also a dose of realism, that we end the adventure here. We could have continued by reducing the payroll and lowering salaries, but to be honest, our hearts aren't really in it.

But let's finish this beautiful adventure with panache! Just this once, to send cafébabel out with a bang, we've decided to teach this old dog a few new tricks. Inthe coming weeks we will launch a huge crowdfunding campaign to finance, thanks to your generosity, the publication of our beautiful book,  a "best of" cafébabel, resplendent in actual, physical pen and ink. A true testimony to this Europe "in real life" that we have seen evolve over these last 15 years. 

Alexandre Heully