Berlingske should be grateful for Mecom-ownership
On The Knee-Jerk Journalistic View of Bloggers

Good stuff, provided Mecom avoids "labour unrest"...

Looking over the various coverage of Mecom's annual results in international media this morning, I was struck by this line from Financial Times (I must admit I've always found it a bit peculiar how FT often adds comments below their articles):

"If Mecom avoids labour unrest, especially in Germany, over merging old and new-media journalistic practices, it should build from here."

Now, anyone who've followed this story will know that most of Mecom is seething with "labour unrest" if we use the term loosely. No, there are currently no strikes that I'm aware of, but there is certainly massive "unrest" over new working practices and an exodus of talent in Denmark, over political issues at Rzeczpospolita in Poland, over cost cuts in Germany and, as Rob noted in the comments, major opposition to merging Mecom's existing Dutch operation, Media Groep Limburg (MGL) with its most recent acquisition, Wegener, the Dutch regional newspaper group. However, there is also, certainly in Norway, enthusiasm for online innovations.

As for merging old and new journalistic practices, a Wegner-journalist once told me that "our journalists have no problem with cross-platform work, but they do have a problem with getting more work to do than fits into 24 hours".

This points to the lingering uncertainty, or even fear, among Mecom journalists about what they can expect, in terms of new working routines and staffing, from their now not-so-new owner. Talking to various sources yesterday, it seemed like the results failed to quell this fear.

The results were pretty much in line with expectations, but the notes on future strategy were too general to provide concrete answers, though an employee representative told me that Montgomery's personal visit to Berlin to deal with staff protests was much appreciated. At least it made this person's sources feel he took them seriously - perhaps in contrast to the CEO of Mecom Germany, Joseph Depenbrock, who've been quoted saying that "he doesn't need the trust of his employees".

In terms of concrete results from the meeting, Montgomery did not agree to the key demands of the journalists at Berliner Zeitung in respect to Depenbrock and cost cuts, but both The Guardian and Netzeitung reports that he will invest in a new editorial system for the paper (which journalists
at the paper had asked for).

On a general note, sifting through all the international Mecom stories I didn't have time to read properly yesterday, I think it's fair to say that UK media coverage of this story is (and has been) characterised by proximity to the City and investor concerns, with the exception of a few tidbits from Germany, while continental coverage of Mecom is very much characterised by proximity to the journalists and their unions. Neither of which, seen separately, will give your the full story of course ...

Note: I've anonymised my sources when the information is based on informal conversations


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