For a moment they have come to life again in the past few days, the golden times of Gruner + Jahr (G + J). In the stories told by veterans and alumni of former CEO Gerd Schulte Helen, who died Wednesday at the age of 80. Since 1981 he has headed G + J for about two decades and established a publishing house in Hamburg, which includes Stern, Geo, Brigitte and a stake in SPIEGEL, the largest magazine publisher in Europe.
Even the company’s journalists showed him respect, which rarely happens to a publishing director. Helen Schulte protect them. He appreciated the critical reports and would occasionally laugh out loud when the ads stayed away.
“Bella,” his nickname given to him by a Russian nanny, was a petite king. He also let his parent company Bertelsmann feel it, as he sat on the board of directors and where he liked to represent opinions that didn’t have a majority there. He also did not hide the fact that he did not think much of the authority of Matriarch Lise Mohn.
The king died and did not see the end of his previous kingdom.
Media Director Schulte Helen 2000: Golden Times
Photo: Ulrich Berry / d
On Friday, Bertelsmann announced that RTL’s 75 percent subsidiary will swallow up G+J. On January 1, 2022, the publisher, which had sales of 1.1 billion euros last year, will be owned by the Cologne-based television group – A deal for 230 million euros. Preparations for the merger have been going on at Gutersloh’s headquarters for a long time. In the past few months, Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Raab has always spoken of an “open” review of the plans. How do you say it when everything is already clear.
Spring Mass will be held at G+J in the morning in the form of a press conference. He tries not to make the event look like a funeral. But it was a transition to a new life, even more beautiful in a different, better world, through media. However, since Rabea is not a pastoral man, but a man of numbers, his lecture feels more like a management forum.
According to Rabie, the merger will create a “journalistic strength” with “content competence” for a total of more than 1,500 journalists. Up to one hundred million euros of synergies will be generated annually. Three quarters is through growth, and a quarter is through savings, as well as in terms of employees.
Rabe uses words like “the matrix”, “national media champion”, “cross-sections”, talks about a “strongly forward-looking project” and is confident: G+J and RTL are not two each other because of their previous cooperation with foreign companies that now have to see “Whether they align.” An employee survey showed “overwhelming” approval of the plans. For journalists in editorial offices, the merger means a “tremendous expansion of their field of activity”; They can now better “play their content across the media,” according to Raab. “If I were a journalist or editor, I would find that very motivating.”
Who is Bernd anyway?
It seems that very few G+J journalists see it differently. While Rabe was giving his speech, they harassed an email in Hamburg they received that morning from the account of G+J President Stefan Schaeffer which talks about a “unique opportunity” for “Germany’s first fully integrated media company” Best regards, Bernd and Stefan: From This was Bernd, co-signed superbly, as the head of RTL Germany Reichart?And will he actually be your future boss too?
Schaeffer was the next man on the set for several years. With the passing of G+J president Julia Jäkel at the end of March, he has become number one in the publishing house. He has been Managing Director of Content and Branding at Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland since 2019. He and RTL President, Reichart, they say, do not get along well with each other, there is talk of a duel.
Another question one asks in Hamburg: Will the RTL determine what is in the Stern in the future? At the press conference, Rabe appeased that the editor-in-chief’s principle, which had always been revered at Bertelsmann, continues to apply: “G+J will in no way become an RTL office.”
Rabe makes no secret of how little faith he has in the old G+J business. The decline in sales as well as in advertising reduced sales by six percent annually. This is increasingly compensated for by “growth in the digital business”. One can compensate for this by saving permanently, “but that cannot be our claim,” one wants to grow.
Bertelsmann Rabe 2019 CEO: The deal sounds like a gift to himself
Photo: Bernd von Guterczynka / D
G+J will not be completely absorbed by RTL. The TV group only takes what you expect to generate synergies. The 25.5 percent stake in Spiegel remains with Bertelsmann. Abroad there are also “Sächsische Zeitung”, the DDV media group, Applike and subsidiary company, which produces, among other things, the Deutsche Bahn magazine “DB mobil”.
G+J employees will continue to work in Hamburg in the future, and we are still looking for a new building. It is managed with RTL. It doesn’t make sense for the TV group to acquire the publisher and “Gruner still works in Hamburg,” Rabe said. And RTL in Cologne adds, “and RTL in Cologne” because he might have noticed that G+J.
The day of the press conference is also Rabi’s 56th birthday. His deal on G+J also seems like a gift to himself. Are RTL and G+J compatible together as thought? The majority of integrations fail due to differences in home culture.
How many journalists out of 1,700 people at G+J are now part of RTL, someone wants to know. At first Rabe said something about 500, but he seems to be whispering there is more. About 800. As if it didn’t matter anymore.