The Digital Revolution Falters in Germany

Monday, October 19th, 2009

On the old media/new media front, a couple of German on-line sources give us an update on how the landscape is evolving over there.

First there is a brief piece in Der Spiegel about the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or FAZ. The FAZ’s fortunes are worth tracking because, like the New York Times in the US, it is really Germany’s own “newspaper of record.” (You can even call it the Teutonic “Grey Lady” as well if you like, since it still publishes no illustrations of any kind on its front page, but always has instead two commentary articles over on the right side, with their headlines in the old Gothic script.) Of course, as with the Times it’s also true for the FAZ that it is currently suffering heavily from declining subscriptions and declining advertising revenues, to the point that it expects to suffer a financial loss this calendar-year “in the area of the high single-millions [of euros]” – the precise number will of course depend upon how things turn out over the holiday period rounding out the year. Still – and here’s a contrast with the Times – management has ruled out any lay-offs. Of course, they’ve also had a hiring-freeze in place for a year, and the “no lay-offs” stance is also dependent upon an anticipated upturn in the paper’s fortunes sometime in the second half of next year, so that it will be able to actually turn a profit through 2010. So maybe the difference here with American employment practice is not the German’s being more “compassionate” in holding on to employees, but merely being more deluded about the future. (more…)

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