Villa Ida talk with Hartwig Hochstein

Theory meets practice

Media science meets newspaper - Professor Jörg Stiehler meets Hartwig Hochstein, editor in chief of Leipziger Volkszeitung.

By Greta Taubert

An unusual day should be dealt with unusual journalistic means. Hartwig Hochstein, editor in chief of Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ), and Professor Hans-Jörg Stiehler from Leipzig University can easily agree on this fact. To both of them, 14 April was such a day: The German candidate for the Olympic Games 2012 was determined in Munich. Leipzig was elected, Hochstein raised the sales of his newspaper into unaccustomed heights, Stiehler increased his sports euphoria. "The only patriotism I have is local patriotism," Stiehler confessed.

During a discussion titled "Between gold and megalomania" on 23 April, both discussed about the LVZ's coverage on the Olympic Games. Balanced or one-sided? Independent or biased? Realistic or overdrawn? - all questions to be answered by the journalistic head of LVZ. "We were influenced by the mood of the city.", Hochstein looks back. "Of course without omitting anything, without lying, always from a critical distance." However: he rather printed the positive results of surveys on the mood of Leipzig's citizens regarding the Olympic Games 2012. Stiehler does not counter Hochstein's arguments: "The LVZ was not polemic at all."

Only after some uncomfortable questions from the audience, the harmonic media double Hochstein/Stiehler became a little bit restless in their red seats. Konrad Rüdiger - for example - regarded the coverage of LVZ even "embarrassing". "The title of your series 'Leipzig's way to the Olympic Games' already gave the impression that the Games were already transferred to the city", the student noted. Hochstein judged this statement from the perspective of a business man: "If you have a series, you have to sell it!" Even if the event is rather staged then investigated? "Productions are made for amusement!", the editor in chief responded confidently.

That he chose the - from a business perspective - right strategy, Hartwig Hochstein proves with the growing popularity of his newspaper. The sale rate has increased during the coverage on the Olympic Games. LVZ was seen on all TV stations during the decision day - raised into the air by celebrating crowds. "And the special edition was even sold at black market prices!"

With the calm after the storm on Leipzig's market place, LVZ now reduces it's unusual journalistic means such as special series or editions and a different layout. The editorship is planning a new concept for the coverage on the international stage. "But the optimism remains!", says Hochstein.