Established in 1911 to serve Cleveland Czechs, one of the city’s oldest and largest ethnic groups, the Svět (“World”) was “an independent Bohemian daily newspaper.” Cleveland was the fourth largest Czech city in the world by 1919, following Prague, Vienna, and Chicago; it was also an important center of Czech progressivism and socialism. During this time, Czechs typically identified themselves with one of three groups—freethinkers, socialists, and religious—and Cleveland’s Czech-language newspapers reflected all three of these ideological divisions. The Svět, although nominally dedicated to the interests of Czech people in America (“Neodvislý český denník věnovaný zájmům českého lidu v Americe”), primarily represented freethinkers, or anticlerical agnostics. Socialist Czechs were served by the Americké Dělnické Listy (“American Workingmen’s News”) and Roman Catholics by the Američan.
The Svět was published by the Svět Printing and Publishing Co., and during the 1920s, managed by John A. Stukbauer and edited by Frank J. Kutak. In 1915, it absorbed the Dennice Novověku (“Star of the New Era”), which had originated as Cleveland’s first Czech newspaper, the politically and religiously liberal Pokrok (“Progress”). The Svět reported local, state, national, and international news, including extensive coverage of World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia. It did not shy away from politics, encouraging its readers to vote for or against certain candidates and issues—in 1918, for example, it warned Czechs against voting in favor of Prohibition. In addition, the paper published local business advertisements and information about community events, such as meetings, picnics, and musical performances. Other regular features included literary works and advertising space purchased by individuals to express congratulations and condolences.
In 1939, the Svět merged with the Američan to form the Svět-Američan. Following World War II, the publication adopted a pro-Communist stance and ceased publication in June 1950. A few months later, the Novy Svět (“New World”) was established to replace the Svět-Američan. It continued daily publication until 1969 and scaled back to a semiweekly then a weekly during the 1970s before closing in January 1977. It was soon reorganized as a national weekly, published by Universum Sokol Publications and edited by Jan Reban in Cleveland. The Novy Svět ceased publication entirely in 1986.
Researched and written by Jenni Salamon