Spiegel editors fired over pay-wall feud

Ongoing dispute over paid-for content prompts departures at the Hamburg media organisation

The Hamburg magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ has fired joint editors Georg Mascolo and Mathias Müller von Blumencron, citing irreconcilable differences over the “strategic direction” of the company.

The Hamburg magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ has fired joint editors Georg Mascolo and Mathias Müller von Blumencron, citing irreconcilable differences over the “strategic direction” of the company.

Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 06:00


To charge or not to charge? The existential question facing news organisations around the world has claimed two prominent scalps at Germany’s leading news weekly, Der Spiegel .

The Hamburg magazine has fired joint editors Georg Mascolo and Mathias Müller von Blumencron, citing irreconcilable differences over the “strategic direction” of the company.

Sources within the organisation said the two men had been at war since taking over the helm in February 2008.

Their collaboration was intended originally to merge the company’s independent print and digital operations. Amid growing difficulties working together, the duo’s responsibilities were separated in 2011 with Mr Mascolo taking the helm of the magazine and Mr Blumencron managing the website, Spiegel Online.

The operations have remained autonomous ever since. Tensions came to a head, sources say, over a heated discussion over whether to introduce an online paywall.

Magazine editor Mr Mascolo reportedly favoured asking readers to pay for selected content while Mr Blumencron rejected the concept and resented the intrusion on to his online turf. Yesterday, sources said the company’s board decided to pull the plug on the warring camps.


‘Alpha males’
“They’re both alpha males, it had to come,” said one Spiegel source.

The magazine has been in decline for some time, selling 933,000 weekly according to the most recent figures – down almost 10 per cent in a year.

The website, a very different animal to its print equivalent, is profitable and its readership is rising.

Some 50.5 per cent of Spiegel is owned by a co-operative of the company’s journalists with the remainder divided between the family of its founder, Rudolf Augstein, and Gruner & Jahr, publisher of news weekly Stern .