New Politico owner plans to increase staff and launch Paywall


BERLIN — Axel Springer SE plans to eventually put Politico content behind a pay wall and immediately increase the political news publisher’s staff by more than 10% once the German conglomerate closes the deal. a billion dollars to buy the company, expected next week.

Axel Springer Managing Director Mathias Döpfner said in an interview that he plans to hire 100 people in the management and editorial staff of the company, which currently has 900 in the US and Europe. . He also presented tentative plans for an international push, including intentions to publish in several different languages.

Mr Döpfner said he plans to expand Politico’s presence in the United States and abroad by introducing new industry-focused products and services and expanding the scope of coverage. He said he expects Politico’s major news offerings, now free, to fall behind a paid wall in the medium term.

He also said he expects Politico staff to adhere to Axel Springer’s guiding principles which have occasionally raised controversy at his German properties, although they are not required to sign a pledge. written towards the principles like the employees in Germany. The principles include support for a united Europe, Israel’s right to exist and a market economy, among others.

“These values ​​are like a constitution, they apply to every employee of our company,” said Döpfner. People with a fundamental problem with any of these principles “shouldn’t be working for Axel Springer, very clearly,” he said.

Mr Döpfner has said he expects other US headlines from Politico and Axel Springer to embody his vision of unbiased and non-partisan reporting, versus militant journalism, which he said reinforces societal polarization in the United States and elsewhere.

Mr. Döpfner led Axel Springer for nearly two decades, taking over what was then a loss-making print publisher and turning it into a profitable digital publishing giant. He made a personal participation in the company, holding more than 22% of its shares.

“I have spent many years managing restructuring, reducing costs, layoffs, digital transformation and creating a new corporate culture,” he said. “But now is the time to focus on growth and investment” in the United States

Launched in 2007, Politico reshaped the coverage of Washington with its general reporting on politics. This then paved the way for a move towards high-priced events and subscription services, called verticals, focused on various industries.

Axel Springer owns the German newspapers Bild, the best-selling tabloid in Europe, and Die Welt, a center-right broadsheet newspaper, and currently operates in 40 countries and employs more than 16,000 people in its portfolio of media companies and technological. The Politico deal, which the Wall Street Journal had previously reported to be worth about $ 1 billion, resulted in a recent buying spree in the United States. Axel Springer previously bought Business Insider, for around $ 500 million, and Morning Brew, a digital publisher that focused heavily on business.

Axel Springer is “step by step making the United States our most important market and growth engine for digital publishing,” said Döpfner.

Axel Springer, he said, believes in countercyclical growth and has hired more than 1,600 people during the worst period of the coronavirus pandemic. This approach, he said, will be applied to Politico and other American titles: “There will be no restructuring, no synergies, no mergers and no cost cutting,” he said. declared.

Axel Springer and Politico formed a joint venture in 2013 to create Politico Europe, a Brussels-based news company. He has agreed to buy the entire European entity as part of the deal for Politico, announced in August. Politico newsrooms in the US and Europe will remain separate, Döpfner said.

Axel Springer and Politico have said they are looking for a new chief executive for Politico. Politico founder Robert Allbritton has told staff he will stay as long as Axel Springer wants, the Journal previously reported. Jan Bayer, Axel Springer’s board member in charge of media, will be in Washington regularly at the start to help oversee the Politico investment and support the new CEO.

Write to Bojan Pancevski at [email protected]

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