Will Julian Frank notice me?

"Mendacity disgusts me"

HORIZONT wrote in December: “Business Insider is the strategically most important brand for Axel Springer. The picture used to be. That's over. ”How is the editorial team, how do you as editor-in-chief deal with the new situation? That's your opinion, not mine. At Bild, we don't have the feeling of having to suffer deprivation of love. Business Insider is an internationally relevant journalistic brand, where, by the way, picture stories are repeatedly adopted and perceived in the USA.


Springer builds ahead. As far as profitability is concerned, Bild has passed its zenith: The advertisements are shrinking, and 1.4 million newspaper buyers and just under 420,000 digital subscribers are adding to the sales revenue. How much decline in print is manageable, how much growth is digitally feasible?  As far as print is concerned, our goal is to limit the double-digit circulation reduction that is customary in the market for commercial newspapers to that which is structurally determined. For us as the editorial team, this means fighting for that part of the decline that is not due to the market, but to journalism. We seem to succeed, because Bild lost around three percentage points less in circulation than the publisher had forecast and is also highly profitable. Every day we reach 9.4 million readers with Bild and around five million unique users digitally. At the same time, we grew faster than expected in paid content. How much growth is digitally feasible? We'll see. The number I have in the room is one million digital subscribers.

By when? That is an ambitious but realistic goal in the long term. Because: Until recently, it was unthinkable to win over the digital readers whom we lose with the printed newspaper. The growth in digital subscriptions is picking up speed, the willingness to pay is becoming more and more a matter of course, which is why we have increased the regular price significantly: from 4.99 euros to 7.99 euros per month.

“I sometimes overdo it with my enthusiasm for confrontational argumentation, I admit that. I'm working on that. "

Julian Reichelt

Your journalistically most interesting project this year is the trial introduction of the print magazine Bild Politik. Is it true that Frank Schmiechen, who has just switched from Gründerszene magazine to Bild, is in the development department? The magazine is editorially developed by the political department of Bild. Selma Stern and Nikolaus Blome are in charge of the development, both of whom are responsible for the planned market test, and Frank Schmiechen will support the two as journalists.

The test begins before the European elections in northern Germany. If the magazine is successful, should it go into series production in time for the state elections in Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia? If we are successful, of course we want to start as soon as possible. We don't make image politics dependent on election dates. But of course it would be helpful to start at a time that is politically charged. And that's it.

Shortly before Christmas, RTL converted the website rtl.de into a tabloid news portal under the leadership of the former Bild-Digital manager Jan Wachtel. The video-driven offer is intended to lure users to TV Now, but also wants to attack the image. How do you deal with it? First of all, it should be shown that rtl.de is really a competitor. Jan Wachtel was partly responsible for the digital success of Bild. I understand that he is now also using picture recipes for RTL.

The news about the new man at Helene Fischer's side was already exclusive to rtl.de. Image followed. Just like Bild regularly retells what is in Bunte. Can that meet your requirements? In addition to sport, the show was once the most important pillar of Bild. Our show editorial team delivers a lot of its own top-exclusive news. With the Boris-Becker separation, we had one of the biggest show news in 2018 exclusively. The politically highly relevant debate about the echo would not have existed without our show department. Rtl.de has to go there first. But my aim is also that we recognize good stories, even if they are elsewhere, and then quote them neatly.

© MG RTL D / Arya Shirazi

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RTL is likely to use its own show news in the future instead of passing it on to Bild. In the future, they could play them. At the jungle camp, for example, which is passionately accompanied by Bild, you could now be left behind. For us this is an incentive. We won't be sending a team to Australia for the first time this year. Instead, we report in a large series how things really go behind the scenes at the jungle camp. My understanding of journalism is not to get something from anyone, but to get what no one wants to give us voluntarily.

Reichelt's vita

Picture, picture, always picture: His parents both worked at Bild, as a high school student he did an internship at Bild, volunteered there and worked as a reporter for Bild for years before he became head of Bild.de in 2014 and top Bild boss in 2017 has been. Monotonous? No, says the 38-year-old. By the way, he did an internship at Mopo in Hamburg before Bild. Editor-in-chief at the time: Mathias Döpfner. And then there was actually a phase in which Reichelt was fed up with the image group. From then on he wrote freelance for Park Avenue and Intouch. But he quickly realized: Nowhere is it better than at Bild - and returned.

In February 2017 you became chairman of all editors-in-chief of the Bild brand. Is it true that Mathias Döpfner asked you in 2016 to report to the Supervisory Board about the dangers of Facebook ...That's right...

... and in your lecture you warned that Facebook could be trusted to censor an iconographic photo like that of the naked napalm girl? This is exactly what happened a short time later. With this foresight, you should have recommended yourself to the impressed Döpfner as the top picture boss. You'd have to ask him that. But it's true, just a few days later, Facebook actually deleted the photo. I have a keen sense of when freedom rights are restricted, especially when it comes to freedom of the press. It comes from my work as a reporter in unjust regimes.

There is another anniversary. In February 2018 Tanit Koch vacated the chair and you also became the sole editor-in-chief of the printed image. How do you rate your first year? It was an exciting and one of the most instructive years of my life. I never wanted to be anything other than Bild editor-in-chief. I love picture. To be in such a debate-intensive time is all the more exciting for me. The federal election campaign. The coalition negotiations. The migration question. A government that is facing meltdown several times, basically because of ridiculous issues ...

... that Bild likes to fuel. We do not fuel, we take up these issues. Because that moves the readers enormously. Because it's no longer just sport and shows that are the pillars of Bild, but politics as well. It used to be said that politics didn't sell. That's not true. Politics attracts people. When it comes to a few sentences from the highest constitutional protector, Hans-Georg Maaßen, for weeks, and the government work is left behind, it moves people.

© Axel Springer

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Bild triggered the debate through the publication of Maassen's controversial statements about the events in Chemnitz. Image stood behind Maaßen until the very end. Do you think ...? Find? In any case, I think it is extremely worrying how a man who has done his best for the security of our country has been hounded by parts of the federal government. That was brutal populism.

Tell me. It's not about what I say or what the picture finds, but about what moves the country. It is precisely these topics with which Bild became the most cited medium at Media Tenor in 2018.

What was the low blow in your first year in office? The Titanic thing was a mistake that still annoys me.

Bild was fooled by the satirical magazine with fake emails supposedly originating from the SPD. That was also instructive because it showed how much image is hated in some circles.

What is worse in your eyes: the accusation that Bild is aggressive, destructive and stirs up hatred - or would the accusation that Bild is harmless be worse? Nobody needs a harmless picture. Generally nobody needs nice, friendly media. There are enough of them in Azerbaijan or Iran or Russia. What worries me is the hatred I personally experience. However, I feel vindicated by the fact that he comes from both the extreme left and the extreme right. For the left, I am a hater of foreigners, for the right, a pro-Merkel man who smuggled refugees into the country with “Refugee welcome”.

A healthy grounding is all the more important. How do you ground yourself? Aside from skiing, you once said that you don't go on long vacations. The two decades as a reporter have permanently and permanently grounded me. I think I have a good sense of what moves people in their lives. What helps me: I'm an absolutely average person when it comes to my taste. I like songs that are in the charts, I like soccer. When the last mine closes in the mining industry, as has just happened, then - apart from the fact that parts of my family come from Bochum - then I think I feel what most Germans feel: camaraderie, nostalgia, the good old days, gratitude for what miners have done for this country. I understand this loss, this emotion.

Is that the reason why you believe and why Bild thinks you know how the people think, what they think is right and what is wrong? We're not as high-handed as you think. The fact is that it is our daily aspiration to get close to what our readers are concerned with.

"Unfortunately, you only know afterwards whether you were right historically."

Julian Reichelt

You mentioned hate earlier. In quiet hours, do you have doubts about the extent to which image contributes to this? I even ask myself this question several times a day. Unfortunately, you only know afterwards whether you were right historically. What I can do: listen to as many voices as possible on a topic, deal with the arguments. And we do.

Although you can seem quite stubborn during debates. Not necessarily receptive to opposing arguments. Those who argue passionately want to be right. It is obvious. I sometimes overdo it with my desire for confrontational argumentation, I admit that. I'm working on that. But because you asked earlier about low blows. I'll tell you what the bitterest moment in my first year was for me: the interview in the Spiegel with Traute Lafrenz, the last survivor of the White Rose. Bild had interviewed her a few weeks earlier. It was our story. But at our meeting she had not warned against those in Germany who again stretch their arms in greeting to Hitler. That really shook me, and I doubted whether I might be overlooking or misjudging something when such a woman warns against it. Until it turned out: Claas Relotius invented the quote.

Jeez You have now demonstrated how self-critical you are, how honest a picture is, and you have also given one to an opposing medium. That's not what it is about. The point is that I have felt firsthand how effective propaganda can be when the right words are slipped into the right person.

Reichelt's music
He is an average person, says Julian Reichelt, and that applies even to his taste in music. Well, let's see what he has downloaded onto his smartphone. After the interview, the Bild boss gave Horizont Online a look at his playlist. He called them “My Songs”. And that's them, Reichelt's favorite songs:

• Viva La Vida (Coldplay),

• Piano Man (Billy Joel),

• Don’t Think Twice (Bob Dylan),

• Lady In Red (Chris de Burgh),

• In My Place (Coldplay),

• American Pie (Don McLean),

• I Want Love (Elton John),

• I Get Around (Beach Boys),

• Above the clouds (R. Mey),

• Always On My Mind (E. Presley), • Monsoon (Robbie Williams),

• Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole),

• Save The Last Dance (L. Cohen).

By the way: With Lady In Red, says Reichelt, he always presses "Next" when someone overhears.

The former BamS boss Michael Spreng recently called Bild the “AfD's apron organization”. They undermined respect for institutions and representatives of the state. And Georg Streiter, an ex “Bild” man, criticized your “fanatical course”, your “personal hatred of the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor and the institutions of this country”. You gave free rein to this hatred. Believe me, every day I wrestle with myself which lines can be made and which cannot. I ask friends and confidants for advice and spend hours in talks with criticism from all my colleagues. I am all the more annoyed by the flat criticism of forgotten men in our industry such as Spreng and Streiter with their unsurpassable bigotry, only to bask in a short span of predictable attention.

What is bigoted about criticism? When I first met Spreng, I was still a volunteer, Spreng's campaign advisor to Edmund Stoiber. He and a few others from the Union let the election campaign end in 2002 on the eve of the federal election in the Paris Bar. A waiter from Iran served at the table. At some point the question came up who would do what after the election. Should the Union win, replied a high-ranking representative of the party at the time, then “All foreigners out”, and that one, he pointed to the waiter, that he was going to be a Persian carpet. I don't remember Spreng intervening or objecting. Rather, he laughed. I should have written that back then. I admit, I didn't dare. Instead, I got up and left. (Editor's note: When asked, Spreng remembers the evening, but not what he said.)In the case of Streiter, who as a government spokesman has always appeared so indifferent and unprepared that it could be understood as contempt for the institution of the Federal Press Conference, many would honestly have wished he had written as pointedly at Bild as in this Facebook post Christmas. And Oliver Wurm, who celebrated Georg Streiter for this picture criticism on Facebook, would have liked to have been chosen by Bild as the winner of the day for his magazine Grundgesetz shortly before, but then explained to me afterwards that this request was ironic and not meant seriously . No, I do not despise the institutions in this country, whose freedoms I love, because I know what happens elsewhere.

Isn't it cheap to distract from criticism of you in this way? I can handle criticism, mendacity disgusts me.

On the occasion of Erdogan's visit to Berlin, you tweeted: "For one day, Frank-Walter Steinmeier will return tomorrow to the foreign policy discipline that he has always mastered best: let himself be lathered by despots". In fact, Steinmeier used the state banquet to speak to Erdogan about human rights in Turkey. In a very mild way, however.

It's called diplomacy. Isn't that your thing. Most of all, it's not my job. Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave Erdogan a completely unnecessary stage on which he could then let go of nasty tirades against Germany - in Bellevue Palace. Steinmeier is co-architect of what I think is a very, very bad Iran deal that benefits Iran and endangers Israel. And he called it an agreement for peace in Syria - of all things, an agreement negotiated in Munich - which was nothing more than a free ticket for the Russians to wipe out Aleppo. I'll stick with it, a journalist can also criticize the Federal President. usi