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The new owners of the "Berliner Zeitung" – Commentary

Saturday, 16.11.2019
15:05 clock

  If you enter the search terms "Silke and Holger" on Twitter these days, you might think that you are watching reviews of a soap opera. "The bullshit comes mainly from Holger Silke has another chance" is there. "If you did not hypnotise everyone who looked like they were building bikes made out of cucumber glasses and bamboo in Prenzlauer Berg, you'd be less disappointed," writes someone else. "'Silke and Holger' is the new 'Trump and Putin'", so another comment.

  

It's all scary and entertaining at the same time. But only for those who have not just bought the Berlin publishing house together with print shop and the "Berliner Zeitung", or work there. And that's about 400 people after all. The stood on Friday stunned in the newsroom to let her new owner Holger Friedrich say that he was in the late eighties employees of the Stasi – at the same time the "Welt" published a corresponding research.

  
Certain topics are subject to a certain economy, sometimes you are in the focus, sometimes you lose your attention. Sometimes you are the star, sometimes the fool. The "Berliner Zeitung" has recently experienced this dynamic in fast motion. The Cologne-based publishing house DuMont broke the bank and sold it at the end of September to the businessman-couple Holger and Silke Friedrich. Relief in the workforce, exciting characters as new owners, departure, new beginning.

  Two months later – one might think – the whole thing turns into the opposite: frustration and pain in the workforce, inexperienced characters as new owners, collapse, end. Gone before it starts right?

  
Holger Friedrich claims to have been in a forced situation

  

That's nonsense, of course. After all, whether the "Berliner Zeitung" has a future is decided primarily by the readers and not Twitter or media journalists. The subscribers and buyers will assess what to think of Frederick's opinion of his Stasi past, which he published in the Berliner Zeitung. He claims to have been in a forced situation and to have been arrested by the NVA because of a planned attempt to escape the Republic and the associated desertion. If that's true, then at least it can be assumed that Friedrich was not the fervent supporter of the SED regime, as he is now portrayed – not least because the couple also had well-meaning sentences for Egon Krenz in a recent editorial.

  The topics of Stasi and GDR biographies are much too complex to be reflexively thrown around with terms such as "spying" and "betrayal". Nobody really knows what happened then, except Friedrich himself and his supposed victims, which one would have to ask first, to judge. Not everyone in the GDR had the courage to invest in an emergency situation with the regime, to go to jail in case of doubt or to leave the country. As the Chancellor recently said, there were not only "brazen bolts" in the West.

  All the more strange is the verve, with the wealthy children from Hamburg-Othmarschen, who had just learned to read and write 30 years ago, staged today as a hobby dissidents and raushauen sayings, the "Berliner Zeitung" is now back firmly in Stasi hand ,

  
Opportunity missed to deal with his past open

  

What one really can accuse Friedrich of is that he was so naive to believe that he does not have to tell his own biography. Only a few days ago, the new publisher was interviewed by the dpa in his time shortly before the fall of the wall in the GDR. "I was with the army at that time, and I was released by the army a few weeks earlier," Friedrich said when asked if he could understand the people who were outraged when, in his editorial, by thanking Egon Krenz reading is. At least there was an opportunity to deal with his past open. Chance missed.

  Much more worrying than the stories that are 30 years ago and where no one can properly judge who was the victim and who was the perpetrator, is the fact that the Friedrichs understand the "Berliner Zeitung" apparently as an organ of proclamation. One can still put up with the long "Berlin Embassy". Springer boss Mathias Döpfner is said to have already printed his essays in one of Springer's newspapers. It becomes critical when one lets himself be interviewed by his own editor-in-chief and shortly thereafter also publishes the full length dpa interview in his own newspaper.

  A limit is exceeded, however, if you publish the questionnaire of the "world" colleagues themselves in advance in the original, if appear in the newspaper well-meaning articles on companies and leaves readers in the dark about the fact that the owner of the newspaper and co-owner of that company is, over which one reads just a cheering portrait. All this reveals a strange understanding of journalism.

  

Now, not every "picture" or "world" article has a disclaimer, such as the fact that the Springer Group, for example, took part in Airbnb as a major investor in 2012, when it reports on the Internet company. And it's also a bit of a bigot when editors-in-chief of business publications at PR Awards give eulogies to lobbyists who should actually watch them from a critical distance.

  In their inexperience with the media industry, Silke and Holger Friedrich have now passed such mistakes. But they should not, if you criticize extensively, how degenerate the industry and proclaimed with a bow wave, to do everything better.

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