2017 in DENMARK
2017 in DENMARK
“I love to work, I hate to wait.
You can imagine how stressful 2017 was. I was hired as CEO and publisher of Berlingske Media in the summer, but was unwillingly sent on garden leave by my former employer, and was not allowed to start until December.
Fortunately, the company has great managers and exceptional staff, and everyone pulled through after Mette Maix left the CEO position. The year started with the merger of the tabloid BT and the free sheet Metroxpress, which will create a powerhouse for free news, sports and entertainment for mobile and in print. Advertising sales on mobile are growing, and we should be leading the way in this field. Web subscriptions took off and will pave the way for a more digitally-oriented business model for the quality newspaper Berlingske and our weekly paper Weekendavisen.
Looking ahead, my garden leave had one advantage: I had the opportunity to use all of our products as a customer – and that let me acquire a better perspective on our business.
Icon Berlingske targets modern, urban reader
Berlingske is one of the world´s oldest still-existing newspapers. It even discussed the signing of the American Declaration of Independence and the French Revolution. The world-renowned fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen wrote for Berlingske as a journalist and columnist. Berlingske is thus deeply rooted in Danish culture, and especially in the capital Copenhagen.
This unique DNA has continued right into the digital age, and this keeps the newspaper attractive for the modern, urban Dane. The digital transformation is radical: the entire layout of the printed newspaper will be outsourced. The editorial room is genuinely digital. The website of Berlingske will be relaunched in order to give greater support to the strategy as a quality paper with subscriptions. And it’s working: the number of digital subscriptions is growing at a promising rate. This is how Berlingske wants to steer the extraordinary history and journalism of the newspaper into the future.
Weekendavisen scores with quality
2017 was a good year for Weekendavisen, and the paper is opting for quality in 2018 as well. A new website is being launched and new digital talent is being added to the editorial staff.
In 2017 a lot of hard work was done to maintain the position as Denmark´s leading weekly, with well-informed, high-profile journalists – strong in politics and society, culture, literature and science. As a gift to its readers, Weekendavisen published a special supplement to its Christmas edition: ´Moments in the history of Denmark´, a compilation of eyewitness reports that go back to 1185 and which cover e.g. a decisive war victory, a devastating city fire and unforgettable cultural events.
Mette Østergaard (37)
• General editor Berlingske
• Loves journalism, books, eating, TV series, podcasts, spending time with friends and children
• Lives with two children (ages 4 and 1) in Copenhagen
The number of web subscribers of Berlingske in 2017 grew by 188% compared to 2016.
“Denmark´s oldest newspaper focuses on digital transformation”
Berlingske may well be Denmark´s oldest newspaper and even one of the oldest in the world – published for the first time in 1749 – but that doesn´t mean it can escape the digital transformation. What´s more, the strong brand is taking up an enormous challenge in the coming years. That´s precisely why Mette Østergaard came on board as co-general editor at the beginning of 2018. “I really wanted to be a part of the leading team. Taking the next digital step is a huge responsibility. Berlingske has always had a historic position, but we require a crystal-clear position in the digital transformation as well. We are known for our quality: good, strong journalism for a conservative public, primarily in and around Copenhagen. Our readers know why they choose us, we are super-relevant and we have to stay that way.”
A dramatic decision was therefore taken. “As of June we will outsource the layout and design of the paper newspaper to another Danish company, one whose manager has even worked for Berlingske and knows us well. They already do our travel pages, so it isn´t entirely a jump into the deep end. Yet it is a major step that we are taking for a variety of reasons. It is very difficult to change the culture and to put digital in the foreground when in the heart of the newsroom the next day´s newspaper is the primary concern. Now we can focus purely and simply on quality journalism. All content is published digitally and the best also makes its way into the newspaper.”
“The Danish government communicates primarily digitally and for example no longer sends out letters on paper, we pay with our mobile phone and carry hardly any cash in our pockets any more, we always have our smartphone in hand for everyday things. So the newspaper too has to go along on this mobile journey!”
Anne Sophia Hermansen (45) is culture editor at Berlingske.
I’d like to start with a scene from Steven Soderbergh´s movie Traffic. The US is rife with illegal drugs. There have been attempts at solving the growing problem, but to no avail.
There’s a pressing need for untraditional methods. A selected group is gathered on a plane. They are urged to muster an unrestrained mind-set, to come up with new solutions to the pressing drug problem. Nothing happens. Then we see the group. All men, all the same age, all in the same suits.
Maybe it is a truth hidden in the intricate anatomy of decision making: Is it just impossible to come up with new solutions to old problems, when everybody seems to think alike?
Studies show that corporations that implement diversity will outperform those which don´t. They are more creative and probably more fun places to work. And is there anything more boring and less inspiring than an echo chamber? Apart from your bathroom mirror on a Sunday morning, perhaps!
When I started working at Berlingske, the usual morning meeting was primarily composed of men. Men are wonderful, but essentially, we are not just a newspaper exclusively by men, made exclusively for men. Fundamentally we need to be relevant for the conservative reader, and as far as I know, not only men are conservative. Presently, I estimate that one in three at our daily morning meeting is a woman.
And if it wasn´t for the stories about women in management, I honestly would be a lot less attracted to reading our business section. Now I do and like many other readers, I enjoy stories about how to be a boss lady. Stories that reflect upon a change in society and are highly prioritised by our journalists. And personally, I, as an editor, have done my best to attract new female opinion columnists and reviewers.
It is paramount that our readers do not get the feeling of being on board the Soderbergh plane, but instead have the feeling that they are getting a comfortable yet inspirational ride with a newspaper that sometimes will surprise and maybe even provoke, but one that you also know you can always trust.