Villa Ida talk with Herbert Riehl-Heyse

"The nice times of print journalism are over now"

Herbert Riehl-Heyse on the status quo of daily newspapers & Rudolf Augstein

Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig and Institute of Communication and Media Sciences of Leipzig University are jointly hosting the Villa Ida talks with renowned media experts in an occasional series. A first event with Dr. Thomas Leif, chief reporter of Südwestrundfunk broadcasting, took place in summer. The series was continued with Dr. Hans Leyendecker on 14 November, 2002 and with Herbert Riehl-Heyse on 28 November.

By Sebastian Heinisch and Christian Maleike

About himself he says that he writes subjectively truthful. Herbert Riehl-Heyse considers it to be impossible to write the truth as a journalist. The journalist of Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), known to readers because of his reports on "page three", was guest to Media Foundation at its Villa Ida on 28 November, 2002. Together with students, scientists and local media entrepreneurs, Riehl-Heyse talked about Rudolf Augstein, Spiegel magazine and today's media crisis. Riehl-Heyse, born in 1940 in Upper Bavaria, studied law and is a journalist since 1968. For his work he received several journalistic awards, including Theodor-Wolff-Prize, Egon-Erwin-Kisch-Prize and the Media Award of the German Bundestag.

Riehl-Heyse personally knew Augstein from several conversations. "Once he offered me the position of the editor in chief of Spiegel to become the successor of Erich Böhme. I rejected this offer at that time.", Herbert Riehl-Heyse, who also wrote a book on the dying species of media tycoons ("Götterdämmerung. Die Herren der öffentlichen Meinung." ("Twilight of the Gods. The masters of public opinion.")), looks back. During his researches for his book he also met with Rudolf Augstein in Hamburg. There, he discovered Augstein's similarities - even the physiognomic ones - with his "arch rival" Franz Josef Strauss.

Riehl-Heyse denies the question whether Augstein's death marked the end of a journalistic culture. "But the species of 'journalistic publishers' is dying out." To him, today's publishers are only managers coming from non-journalistic companies. "I don't want roofing felt sellers, but managing publishers who love their own product.", Riehl-Heyse demands. Because of that, he feels well cared for in the authors' newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The journalistic quality of a newspaper suffers under the current media crisis. But a good daily newspaper is the last clip that ties together the society. "The mood at Süddeutsche Zeitung is as bad as ever." The dramatic losses in advertising revenue may be one reason for this. In 2001, the SZ recorded 58 percent less advertising revenue than in 2000. "The nice times of print journalism are definitely over now." Today he would hesitate to advise young people to become professional journalists.