The 2018 financial year has proved a success for Hubert Burda Media. With consolidated external turnover of €2.664 billion, the company has repeated the previous year’s result.
Is the golden age of journalism over? This was the central question with which presenter and former editor-in-chief of Bild Tanit Koch started the eagerly awaited panel of CEOs Paul-Bernhard Kallen (Hubert Burda Media) and Mathias Döpfner (Axel Springer) at the end of the DLD Europe conference in Brussels. "Democracy cannot survive without good journalism and vice versa," explained Burda boss Paul-Bernhard Kallen. One must continue to work on new revenue streams, but a fundamental pessimism is not appropriate.
For Döpfner the existing system for journalism is completely broken. He sees the industry at a turning point, for the true golden age of journalism is still to come. "A new generation of journalists will establish themselves over the coming decades with models that make digital journalism many times better than analog journalism," says Döpfner.
Springer's CEO is convinced that digital journalism will monetize over the next few years. In addition to Programmatic and Native Advertising, Springer is already relaying on a payment model that Döpfner continues to adhere to. "It simply takes time to implement this model and of course people who believe in it," says the Springer CEO.
For Kallen, traditional media can also generate enormous revenues online.
"I don't see why traditional media should not succeed in shifting from print to online. Of course there is room for new, 'digital only' brands, which we also invest in. But I don't see the trend towards the extinction of traditional media. It's more about a combined approach of print and online journalism."
Paul-Berhard Kallen, Burda CEO
Good journalists moving on to platforms like Facebook in the future is of no concern to him. "It makes a big difference whether you work for a company that primarily focuses on collecting data, or in an environment that promotes and protects good journalism like we do.
The two boards were very much in agreement on the subject of the European Publisher’s Right. Background: European publishing law should put publishers in a better negotiating position with search engines and aggregators and contribute to a fair distribution of revenues along the journalistic value chain. The Commission's proposals have been the subject of heated debate for two years now.
Kallen made it clear that the Publisher’s Right is not about the punishment of US platforms often proclaimed by lobbyists. "It is important to counteract the dangerous formation of monopolies by platforms in order to keep value chains open and enable innovation," said Kallen.
"We don't see the Publisher’s Right as a panacea for future revenues, but as the protection of intellectual property," added Döpfner. "Since journalism is increasingly taking place digitally, we need this legal framework so that digital business models can function at all in the future".
The full panel session of Döpfner and Kallen can be viewed via the DLD Conference Facebook page.