In August, The Geneva Observer behind a paywall: a note to our readers

In August, The Geneva Observer behind a paywall: a note to our readers

Friends, we love putting out The Geneva Observer to several thousand readers around the world every Thursday evening. I started The G|O in 2019 with a simple goal: write high-quality, independent, and reliable articles about International Geneva that you couldn’t find anywhere else. We dubbed The G|O ‘locally international.’ Today, our reach is indeed global, extending to more than 150 countries, with a steadily growing audience of about 3,500 engaged readers, often with a high share rate. All this has been possible thanks to the commitment of a very small, expert, and highly dedicated team, and despite a minuscule budget. Producing The G|O is hard and slow work, a journalistic pocket of resistance at a time when AI is used to produce ‘content.’

In 2020, The G|O Briefing was boosted by a grant from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung KAS Foundation — Multilateral Dialogue Geneva. KAS’s Geneva director approached me. An extraordinarily acute observer of the multilateral scene himself, he saw our work as an essential contribution to explaining the arcane world of International Geneva’s ecosystem. Shortly after, the Puech Foundation decided to match KAS’ grant.

The support of these two foundations has now come to an end. The G|O would not have been possible without them. Jamil Chade, my byline partner almost since the beginning, and I cannot thank them enough. Their support has also allowed us to have our pieces finely edited by Paige Holt and Dan Wheeler, and to hire stringers highly proficient with International Geneva.

But unfortunately, unless we are able to find new sources of funding, we may have to suspend publication and put The G|O into dry dock. As a Swiss entity, we are not eligible for European grants. Large philanthropic organizations that fund media, we have discovered over the years, remain largely unaware of the importance of what’s happening here—the very state of affairs that we wanted to change with the creation of The Geneva Observer.

I have thus decided to turn The G|O into a reader-supported publication, a decision consistent with my long-held conviction that, ultimately, independent journalism can only be supported through a subscription model. I also believe that today more than ever, invigorating the market of ideas is a collective responsibility and that a niche newsletter like ours that delivers high-value-added journalism has its place in a rich and diverse media landscape.

When we return from our summer hiatus on August 24, the majority of our pieces and our archives will be behind a paywall. The G|O, we hope, will be supported mainly by you, its readers. If you belong to our core readership, one of those who have been with us from the very beginning and find our journalism original and informative, we genuinely hope you will support our efforts and our mission. If you are new to The G|O, we encourage you to browse our site and dive into our archives before deciding to support our work and, hopefully, enabling us to take The G|O to the next level by growing our pool of contributors and broadening our coverage of International Geneva. “Democracy dies in darkness,” The Washington Post says. I believe that multilateralism does too.

We will of course keep you informed in more details about the upcoming change. If you know any organization or foundation which might be interested in getting involved, or if you want to share your thoughts, do not hesitate to email me directly at


Philippe Mottaz