Head of Germany’s largest daily newspaper accused of harassment
According to German media, Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of the country’s largest-circulation Bild (read by more than 12 million people every day), sent a letter to the management of Springer publishing house, which includes the newspaper, asking him to release him while investigating his own “wrong behavior” from the management of the newspaper. The publishing house publicly confirmed this fact, citing a violation of the code of conduct within the editorial office. During the investigation, the editorial staff will be Alexandra Wurzbach, editor-in-chief of the Sunday edition of Bild am Sonntag. The investigation was entrusted to lawyers of the international law firm Freshfields, which, by the way, has a branch in Moscow.
The 40-year-old Reichelt has been at the head of the joint editorial staff of the Bild newspaper since 2017. He is accused of abuse of power, harassment, and the use of the relations of dependence on him by the editorial staff. Hamburg-based weekly Zeit suspects that “the editor-in-chief may have misbehaved towards the female employees.”
The magazine Spiegel, which was the first to bring this story to light, spoke more clearly and impartially about Reichelt’s behavior. The magazine’s article on the editor-in-chief of Bild was titled “Sex followed by a promotion or firing.”
Reichelt himself denies all charges. Therefore, the publisher notes in its statement that lawyers must conduct a thorough investigation on all fronts and assess the honesty of all those affected.
It is known about Reichelt that he was a war correspondent and worked in hot spots — Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Lebanon, Georgia, Thailand. He also began his journalistic career at Bild back in 2002 and was educated at Springer’s own journalism academy. In 2007, Reichelt became the chief reporter for the newspaper, and since 2014 has been managing its online publication. After becoming editor-in-chief, he continued to write articles on political topics, actively participated in round tables on TV channels, and published two books.
Colleagues believe that Reichelt prefers to work in the style of “revolving journalism”. In other words, emotions play a decisive role in his articles, and he prefers to write about enemies. Therefore, he is not even called a journalist, but a propagandist. So, in his messages from Syria, he argued that “the West should have foreseen Russia’s interference in Syrian affairs and responded with intervention” or at least “calculate the risk of starting a war with Russia.”
The German Press Council, which was created by journalist organizations and large publishing houses back in 1956, following the example of the British Press Council with the aim of monitoring the observance of the so-called Press Code or the Code of Journalism by journalists, drew attention to Reichelt’s publications. In the event of violations of the Press Code by journalists, the council usually issues recommendations to the editorial offices in this regard. So, he noted that Reichelt in his messages from Syria in 2016 published unverified facts and outright fakes. In response, Reichelt publicly called the press council the Kremlin’s hand.
In any case, such actions characterize Reichelt well enough as an ambitious and uncompromising person who pursues his line without regard to public opinion or circumstances.