At the top of Germany’s largest tabloid newspaper, a reorganization is pending. “Marion Horn will take over the chair of the chief editors of the “Bild” group with immediate effect,” the media group Axel Springer announced on Thursday in Berlin.

“The current editors-in-chief Johannes Boie, Alexandra Würzbach and Claus Strunz are stepping down from their previous roles.” You will be informed about their “possible future tasks at Axel Springer” at a later date. Würzbach was most recently responsible for “Bild am Sonntag”, Strunz for the “Bild” moving image offer.

Less than a year and a half ago, Boie succeeded the controversial Julian Reichelt as editor-in-chief of “Bild”.

New digital strategy “requires changes”

The media group justified the realignment with its digital strategy. The background is that Axel Springer wants to say goodbye to the printed newspaper business and become a purely digital company.

“Bild” is number one in Germany, and the aim is to remain so in the digital-only era, explained the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the “Bild” brand group, Claudius Senst. “This is a fundamental transformation in editorial, organizational and cultural terms. It also requires changes in the editor-in-chief,” explained Senst.

The 57-year-old Horn is an acquaintance in the Springer household. She has already worked for the Springer Group for more than 25 years, from January 2001 as a member of the “Bild” editor-in-chief. In October 2013 she became the first woman to take over the management of “BamS”. Six years later she left Axel Springer – “at her own request against the background of new, comprehensive editorial structures at “Bild””, as it was called at the time. The successor at “BamS” was Alexandra Würzbach, until then the deputy of the former “Bild” editor-in-chief Reichelt.

No reasons for Boie goodbye

From 2021, Horn then worked for the consulting company Biscuit CNC. “I’m excited about the change of perspective, the international orientation and the enormous growth dynamic of Biscuit CNC,” Horn was quoted as saying at the time. But finally she did not turn her back on “Bild”. “After leaving in 2019, she always remained connected to Axel Springer and “Bild”, is the 1st chairman of the board of trustees of our aid organization Bild hilft e.V. “A heart for children”” wrote Senst in his email.

Horn is now returning to journalism – and, according to Senst, with a “clear value compass, journalistic excellence, leadership and passion for good tabloid journalism”. In the announcement of the change, however, no reasons were given why Boie had to go. Senst thanked him, Würzbach and Strunz: “We thank Johannes, Alexandra and Claus – and I personally – for their great and long-term commitment to “Bild”.

Senst was a little clearer in an internal email to the workforce before he and Horn informed about the innovations in a switching conference. The “image” structures would have to be radically changed and further developed so that the brand could continue to grow, it said in the mail, which is available to the German Press Agency (dpa). “This includes clarity and reliability in leadership and responsibility,” wrote Senst.

Only two bosses instead of four

It was already known that “Focus” editor-in-chief Robert Schneider (46) came to “Bild”. On April 17, 2023, Springer announced that he would become “Bild” editor-in-chief “as planned”. In the future, the head of the editor-in-chief will consist of only two instead of four members. “She will further develop “Bild” journalistically and strategically, position it with a strong tabloid profile and actively promote digital change,” it said.

According to the information, Horn and Schneider will run “Bild” with the deputy editors-in-chief René Bosch, Timo Lokoschat, Tanja May, Paul Ronzheimer, Mandy Sachse and Yvonne Weiß “and allocate the individual areas of responsibility after Robert Schneider’s arrival”. Until then, Horn was editor-in-chief of both “Bild” and “Bild am Sonntag” (“BamS”).

Springer CEO Mathias Döpfner said: “I am very pleased that Marion Horn and Robert Schneider are coming back to Axel Springer and “Bild”. They stand for our path to the future.”

Circulation decreases

With its flagships “Bild” and “Welt”, Springer has been in a phase of upheaval for a long time, which – as with other media companies – also has something to do with declining print runs and the shift towards digitization.

The “Bild” circulation has fallen sharply in recent years. At the end of 2022, the sold circulation was 1.1 million copies (with the Berlin tabloid “B.Z.”). In the fourth quarter of 2013, more than twice as many copies were sold every day. The number of paying digital subscribers (“Bildplus”) was 657,686 at the end of February.

In addition, there were recently allegations of abuse of power against the former “Bild” editor-in-chief Reichelt, who ultimately had to leave the Springer group. Reichelt rejected the allegations and later spoke of a “smear campaign” against him.

Boie took up the post of editor-in-chief on October 18, 2021, succeeding Reichelt.

job cuts announced

Springer recently announced major job cuts at “Bild” and “Welt”. “There will be significant job cuts in the areas of production, layout, correction and administration,” Döpfner said in a letter to the workforce at the end of February. Concrete numbers were not given. Operational layoffs should be avoided as much as possible.

It was also said: “In order to remain economically successful in the future, our earnings in the German media business must improve by around 100 million euros over the next three years. Through increases in sales, but also through cost reductions.”

The group currently employs around 18,000 people worldwide. These include 3,400 journalists, an increasing number of them in the USA.