I've been holding off writing about Mecom's newest acquisition, Netzeitung (still subject to regulatory approval), until Olav Anders Övrebö, media blogger and former Netzeitung journalist, added his perspectives to the fray. Though he's not too optimistic about the takeover, he throws up a few very interesting ideas:
As expected, Netzeitung has a new owner yet again, now BV Deutsche Zeitungsholding a.k.a Montgomery. This private equity media empire builder has so far not shown any particular interest in developing online news, only traditional restructuring of established print businesses. So there's no reason to be very optimistic on behalf of ex-colleagues. But it's possible to speculate about what could be done. Because now actually for the first time Netzeitung is part of a company which has the marketing clout to produce the kind of audience growth it has always been looking for in its almost seven years' existence (for more on just how, read the full post here).
Now it must be said that Edda Media's recent talent competition for innovative online ideas hints at a willingness to develop Mecom's online operations further. And, though it's often said that Montgomery so far has made no major new investments, apart from the doomed Dato, Edda Media, as many other media companies, has actually bought an entire island in Second Life (though they might want to put up additional sign-posting in German, seeing how it's much more likely that a German, than a Norwegian, will chance upon the island).
On a more serious note, during a recent debate at the Norwegian Journalist Union's annual conference, Montgomery himself signalled that we might see Mecom putting more emphasis on online innovations in the times to come:
'I'm here because I think journalism will have to change. The old fashioned model of print can not sustain itself. We face more competition than ever before. If we don't change radically, and I do mean radically, it will be bad for print, bad for democracy, bad across the board'
Will the Netzeitung acquisition be the vehicle that shows us just how Montgomery envisions that the profession will have to change?
A few reactions from the German blogosphere here and here.
Update 14:35: Just discovered this piece from Mediawatch.dk (in Danish, behind pay wall) where Montgomery says he wants to focus on online development in order to sustain print.