Newspaper association is repositioning itself: At best, good applause

After massive criticism, Mathias Döpfner says goodbye as president of the newspaper association BDZV. There will no longer be a presidential system in the future.

Döpfner with a newspaper in his hand speaks to 2 people who turn their backs on us

Mathias Döpfner at the association congress Photo: Jörg Carstensen/dpa

The BDZV has been called the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers for a long time. So the Space Invader green, reminiscent of ancient video games, in which the BDZV Congress will be held in Berlin on Tuesday, is absolutely fine. The first item on the agenda is the appearance of Mathias Döpfner. Schwanengesang as BDZV President, his theme is freedom.

That suits the free spirit Döpfner, who likes to provoke when he gets bored as head of Springer. With ironic emails in which he prayed for the election victory of a certain Donald Trump calls, for example. However, he doesn't do that today. And the issue of freedom could also have something to do with the fact that there is another association that calls itself the “Media Association of the Free Press” and is trying to compete with the BDZV.

So Döpfner says it's "great that we can look each other in the eye again," which is a bit ironic given the backstory. Finally, Döpfner resigns because there was massive criticism of his leadership and his person. After him there will be no more presidents. No female president either, the BDZV rather meets in the midst of its own molting.

In the end, Döpfner had turned many against him through his loyalty to the sacked man Picture-Chief Julian Reichelt and through strange messages, according to which Reichelt is the last upright journalist - O-Ton Döpfner: "Almost everyone else has become propaganda assistants." But above all through the inability to defuse the predetermined breaking points in the association, or at least to kitten. "It's important to be united," said Döpfner in his speech on Tuesday: "If we let ourselves be divided between daily newspapers and magazines, small and large publishers, local and national titles," that would be counterproductive.

Trump got in touch

And outlines exactly the problem facing the BDZV. The Funke Group, one of the largest regional newspaper groups in the republic, which also makes magazines, had demonstratively rehearsed leaving the association some time ago. This will take effect at the end of the year. For years, the BDZV has been struggling to find a new direction, for which the decisive course was set on the eve of the public part of the congress.

There will no longer be a presidential system in the future, but rather a board of full-time and honorary members. The fact that a woman is also at the top of the association, which is dominated by older men dressed in dark anthracite, is an important signal. If everything goes smoothly, the new BDZV general manager, Sigrun Albert, who only came in April, will be this new strong force, flanked by two honorary positions. It remains to be seen whether the sovereigns who consider themselves indispensable, such as Valdo Lehari jr. from the Southwest German Publishers Association. After all, the vote for the new management structure in the association is said to have been almost unanimous.

Döpfner no longer has to worry about that. In his speech, he again warned against fake news and government funding of journalism. It would "start politely and very helpfully - but end very terribly". A few million to encourage newspaper delivery, on the other hand, was fine. Of course, even if he is no longer available as President, he will “continue to be committed to our cause,” the Springer man threatened. At the end and as a thank you for six presidential years, there was applause at best. But at least Donald Trump had come forward. "Thank you to the very brilliant Mathias Döpfner" he had spread via his replacement Twitter "Truth Socal": "Good news is - we won big."

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