Mathias Döpfner will hand over his office as President of the Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) “in an orderly manner to new hands, preferably also to new structures”. The 59-year-old was re-elected in autumn 2020 for a second term – four years. According to a statement from the association on Wednesday, Döpfner, who is also CEO of Axel Springer SE, wrote to the members of the association in a personal letter to express his understanding of his decision. He gave two main reasons for his resignation. On the one hand, Axel Springer is in a decisive phase with its growth in the USA and the purchase of Politico, “the largest acquisition in our company’s history, which requires significantly more time and presence from me in America”. He will therefore no longer be able to commit himself to the association in the form and intensity required for a president.
On the other hand, in order to better represent the interests of small and medium-sized, regional and local publishers, a person or constellation at the top is needed who does not represent a large, international and very digital publishing house. This has repeatedly led to misunderstandings in the past. “Example of ancillary copyright law: While I am firmly convinced that this right primarily protects the small ones, some claim that it is primarily useful for the large ones.” This is an unnecessary distraction from what is really important. Because “the ability to succeed in digital journalism is the destiny of all of us”. Therefore, other structures with more representation of the small and medium-sized publishers are now necessary, explained the BDZV President. He is now turning to the members in order to prepare well and orderly the way ahead together up to the general/delegated assembly and the annual congress in September with great clarity.
The association has achieved a lot in recent years. “We can be proud of that,” Döpfner continued. Commonality is always stronger than particular interests – especially when they are publicly held. Döpfner was very grateful for the support and encouragement he had received from most of the members over the past few months and weeks.
What is not in the message, but can certainly be part of the reason for Döpfner’s withdrawal: Mathias Döpfner was no longer undisputed. At least since Julian Reichelt was kicked out as “Bild” boss and Döpfner’s leaked statement that all journalists except Reichelt were working as “propaganda assistants” to the government, there have been attempts by the Funke media group in particular to replace Döpfner as BDZV president. In addition, Döpfner’s doctoral thesis recently came under suspicion of plagiarism. The test procedure at the University of Frankfurt/Main is ongoing.