Start of a new era: German Free Press Media Association (MEDIENVERBAND DER FREIEN PRESSE) commences its work
In a fundamental reform process, the interest group representing German magazine publishers has become the German Free Press Media Association: Today, the assembly of delegates of the new association, consisting of 42 representatives of German publishers, met for the first time and adopted a strong declaration on the importance of the free press for the stability of a democratic society. The new association takes over the role of the Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) in representing the media-political interests of over 400 publishers with more than 7,000 magazine and media offerings. In view of the enormous challenges for the free press in Europe and the Russian war against the young democracy in Ukraine, accompanied by the manipulative approach of Russian state propaganda, the delegates declared that the mission of the publishers united in the German Free Press Media Association was to make their contribution to the “freedom of opinion and diversity of lifestyles in our pluralistic democracy”.
The German Free Press Media Association sees one of the most valuable achievements of democratic society in the depth and breadth of journalistic media in Germany that has emerged from market-based competition. The editors of the more than 7,000 magazines and media platforms organized in the association inform millions of people in depth about everything they want to know in a private or professional context. This unique achievement of continuous information and education is highly relevant to democracy – just like the achievement of the daily press to journalistically record and explain the relevant daily news for the people. Magazines and newspapers together make up the free press, which is why the media association of the free press stands for the indivisibility of the press.
The assembly of delegates marks the successful conclusion of the reform of the organization of the magazine publishers. This was preceded by the unanimous vote of the members in four VDZ regional associations and the three genre associations organized in the VDZ for a joint federal association. In order to organize internal decision-making democratically and to be able to represent the interests of all members in the best possible way, the new association has five regional representations for the regions of Bavaria, Berlin-Brandenburg, North, North Rhine-Westphalia and Southwest; the specific interests of the three genres of consumer media, B2B and confessional press are aggregated in specialist representations.
The delegates unanimously elected their new executive committee at the hybrid conference. It consists of Dr. Rudolf Thiemann (Liborius Verlagsgruppe) as president of the German Free Press Media Association. Together with him, the executive board of the association consists of Holger Knapp (Sternefeld Medien), Detlef Koenig (mhp Medien), Bianca Pohlmann (Funke Mediengruppe), Lars Joachim Rose (Mediengruppe Klambt), Dr. Alfons Schräder (Heise Medien) and Philipp Welte (Hubert Burda Media).
“As a strong community of magazine publishers in politically and socially challenging times, we have created the new media association of the free press as an entrepreneurial and ideational representation of the interests of the German publishing industry, explained Dr. Rudolf Thiemann after his election. “I would like to thank all our colleagues for their continuous and effective commitment over the past few years. A new era in the representation of political interests by the free press has begun. I am therefore extremely pleased about the trust that the delegates have placed in me.”
“With the assembly of delegates and the election of the executive committee, our reform comes to a formal conclusion today: the German Free Press Media Association replaces the VDZ as a new, integrated federal association and modern organized interest group, with compact and efficient structures and a uniform, fair membership fee for all our members,” explained Detlef Koenig, Vice President and Chairman of the Southwest State Representation. “The media association will effectively represent the interests of its member publishers in Berlin, in Brussels and together with the regional representations in the federal states, articulate the interests of the genres and offer all members a national and regional range of services tailored to them.”
The five regional and three genre representations of the German Free Press Media Association had already been constituted in the past few weeks, and the respective board members and their chairpersons were also elected.
Holger Knapp, Chairman of the B2B Media Association: “The German Free Press Media Association is a member association with active participation. Every tenth member company is directly involved in the assembly of delegates. Today this parliament of publishers set the course for the future. Transparent and democratic. In this community, we want to make our contribution to the free press and work together for fair framework conditions. In this way, we can effectively support the diversity of the B2B media landscape and its indispensable contribution to value creation for Germany as a location for business and science.”
Philipp Welte, Chairman of the consumer media representation: “The free, independent press is indispensable for the freedom of a democracy. The war of aggression on the young democracy in Ukraine reminds us that we must not take this freedom for granted. In order to be able to continue to do justice to our publishing and journalistic duties in our society in the future, we need fair political framework conditions that make sustainable market-based financing possible for us. In the deeply trusting cooperation on the way to our new association, we have moved closer together as an industry. Now, with the VDZ, we are leaving behind what no longer suited our time and taking with us what is our mission: to stand up for the future of journalism by publishers.”