Mecom-boss David Montgomery is expected to attend to the increasingly tense situation at the Berliner Zeitung in a visit to Berlin this week, according to Financial Times Deutschland, who claims nothing less than a war is raging in Berlin (in German).
Now, several concerned readers from various Mecom-countries contacted me last week to hear if I had seen the latest stories by international media on the trouble in Berlin. The answer is twofold: on the one hand, I've covered parts of this story in Norwegian for Journalisten but been too busy to blog; on the other hand, international media have been slow to pick up and then mostly just skimming the surface, so, to make up for the recent lack of Mecom-blogging here, here's a recap of the main Mecom headlines in February with some tidbits you might not have picked up elsewhere:
Dear Mr Proprietor,
If you intend to be such a money-pincher, we demand a new owner. If you fail to comply, we'll make your life miserable.
staff at Berliner Zeitung
This might not have been the exact wording of the famous letter that explains Montgomery's vist to Berlin, but it's pretty much the essence of it.
In the evening of 14 February, while the management at Berliner Verlag, Mecom's German arm, were busy preparing an annual party with 'stakeholders' such as local celebrities and politicians, the employees crafted an open letter in which they demanded that Joseph Depenbrock, the joint editor-in-chief and commercial director of Mecom's German operations, was replaced and drastic cost cutting measures abandoned. If these demands were not met, they urged Montgomery to sell Berliner Zeitung to another owner, threatening industrial action if he failed to comply.
In the letter, the employees made it clear that neither Depenbrock nor Montgomery commanded their trust, to which Depenbrock responded, according to SüdDeutsche Zeitung, that he did not need the trust of his employees.
Enter David Montgomery, the soft-spoken, mild-mannered Irishman who calmly and diplomatically faces all the abuse thrown at him. Yes, this is very much the public image we've seen of Montgomery in his new role as a European media mogul so far. He may have gone to Berlin as the peace-maker, to demand that management and employees sort out their differences, or to more or less diplomatically remind his employees of the brutal reality they face. In either case, we should know soon....
More on the outcome and other Mecom tidbits here