Why a couple from Berlin buys a newspaper
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In the GDR, the “Berliner Zeitung” was subordinate to the SED, after the turn it belonged Gruner + Jahr, later an investor and most recently the DuMont-Verlag. Now the sheet goes into private hands. A swan song – and a new beginning.
Whe still buys a daily paper today? With printing and all the trimmings? Where has it been for a while, the end of the paper newspaper is imminent? In the Berlin publishing house, since 2009 owned by the media group DuMont, this rare species of newspaper buyer has arrived on Tuesday morning. In the form of a Berlin couple, Silke and Holger Friedrich, both of whom have been active in business for many years. And say that they understand the purchase as “civil society engagement in turbulent times”.
That sounds more like patronage, but that does not have to be bad after all. For it is quite possible to take over a newspaper publishing house from the drive of social responsibility and nevertheless to lead economically successful.
In the US, some takeovers of well-known media brands by entrepreneurs have caused quite a stir in recent years, including Amazon boss Jeff Bezos with the Washington Post and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff with Time Magazine. The Friedrichs want to set an “objective, fact-based reporting”, they share, as well as on a “thorough work on socially relevant topics.”
Who are the Friedrichs? Your own website the Commercial Coordination Germany GmbH in the Berlin Wall Street there is no information. Silke Friedrich has revived the legendary former Techno-Club E-Werk as a venue, the building had been bought by her husband Holger, which was in 2004. She is also the managing director of the Berlin Metropolitan School, an international private school in Berlin-Mitte. Holger Friedrich had sold a technology company founded by him to SAP in 2003. In the meantime, he was a consultant at McKinsey, CEO of Software AG and founder of a Consultant company for technology topics,
And now a newspaper? More precisely, the “Berlin newspaper“, The tabloid” Berliner Kurier “and the” Abendblatt “, an ad newspaper. This is interesting and could make sense at the interface between technology and education, the spectrum of Friedrichs. But the maintenance of a newspaper publisher is expensive, very expensive even. Printing, distribution and staff costs, along with falling print runs and fluctuating ad sales, make such a commitment an entrepreneurial venture.
However, some of the press release for sale suggests that the “Berliner Zeitung”, which currently has a sold circulation of 84,000 copies, will in future mutate into a purely digital medium. It is said that they are working on the “digital development” of the title, later on the “continuous digitization of offers” and the “orientation of the publisher on forward-looking formats” the speech. The end of the paper seems to be sealed – and it would be a redemption for the publisher shrunken in the past decades.
Silence was agreed on the purchase price, but the media group DuMont from Cologne probably did not achieve a large revenue. Because it has been known for months that the traditional publisher is looking for buyers for its daily newspapers; to this end, an external company was even turned on, rather unusual in the industry. To DuMont still belong the newspapers “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”, “Express”, “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung” and “Hamburger Morgenpost”. The tabloids are bad, the “Mitteldeutsche” and the “Stadt-Anzeiger” are profitable, and the Berlin-based publishing house has a lot of savings loops to get things under the feet.
DuMont calls itself a “digital media and technology company,” but that's even more wishful thinking than reality. In fact, the publisher owns a number of interesting companies, but the core business continues to be the newspaper industry, but it is burdened with the known risks. The Berlin publisher had yet to buy the Patriarch Alfred Neven DuMont, that was ten years ago. At the time, the seller was the Irish investor David Montgomery. The DuMonts let themselves be celebrated as rescuers of the publishing house – however had to put on again and again the red pencil.
The sale is therefore also from a seller's perspective in order, if one admits that the DuMonts, the once glorious publishing family, no longer have what it takes to create the journalistic economic turnaround. Company boss Christoph Bauer sees himself anyway more as a doer who does not depend on the family heritage. The owners seem to allow it. The hope for the “Berliner Zeitung” is thus in the separation of the inheritance. What that means for the employees is still unclear.
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