it’s hard not to feel a little Schadenfreude at news like this: Julian Reichelt, editor of Berlin-based mega-tabloid BILD, was fired Monday following publication of an article by New York Times media columnist Ben Smith that revealed how Reichelt had continued to sleep with junior female journalists on his staff - despite being the subject of an investigation on exactly that earlier this year. The NYT piece revealed he continued to promote young women who slept with him and even made a secret cash payment to one of them.
Destroying people’s repuations has been part of BILD’s business model for decades, so there’s a certain satisfaction that one of their own has finally been held accountable for his sleazy behaviour. The whole affair shows again that BILD and its publishing house Axel Springer are fine examples of how journalism remains by and large a boy’s club in Germany - also exemplified by a another disturbing detail: an investigative team at Ippen Verlag (the publisher of German Buzzfeed and a few newspapers) led by Juliane Löffler had been working on the Reichelt story for weeks. The story was axed by boss Dirk Ippen, who allegedly didn’t want to appear to be unfairly dissing a competitor. Dodgy move, bro. Ippen, who nobody heard of till Monday, is having a moment on German social media, let’s just put it that way. Anyway, it was an incredibly dumb decision on his part since the whole story, including his killing of the story, simply got passed on to the NYT.
As great as it is to see Axel Springer take a hit - [Full disclosure: I was fired in person by now-CEO Mathias Döpfner two decades ago when Springer paper Die Welt pulled the plug on its short-lived English-language site] - the fact that the NYT published the story on a German media scandal is itself a bit odd. But then one must remember that the Berlin concern has global ambitions and has begun to tread on the the NYT’s home turf by acquiring the likes of Politico and Insider. It’s clear as day that the real reason Reichelt was fired was anxiety about the concern’s reputation on the other side of the Atlantic.
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, October 19
Fully vaccinated: 65.8% (65.6% Friday)
New cases in one day: 894 (669 Friday)
Total deaths: 3,665 (+2 over Friday)
🟡 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 92.5. (84.7 Friday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 2.6 (2.7 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 9.5% (9.4% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
End of the epidemic?
Outgoing German health minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has suggested ending the official nationwide “epidemic situation” by November 21 - which could mean an end to nationwide restrictions. Spahn cited as reasons the fact that vaccinated people were at very low risk of falling sick from Covid as well as the health care system’s ability to cope with cases. Pointing to rising infection numbers, Karl Lauterbach (SPD), whose name has been floated for the health minister post, said it would be crazy for state governments to lift all restrictions like masks on public transport as infections are expected to rise in the winter.
Another little election glitch
Tidbits of disorder continue to surface in connection to the super-election on September 26 where Berliners faced missing ballots, long lines and other problems. Andreas Otto (FDP), a politician in Reinickendorf, received a message from the election officer saying he could start work in Berlin’s state parliament. The problem is that he actually lost his local contest. Turns out the election officer mixed him up with another Andreas Otto (Greens) who won his district in Prenzlauer Berg. The successful Andreas was quoted by BZ as saying: “It's a strange thing. Either it happened in spite of digitization or because of it.” Classic.
More cash for Gorillas?
The Berlin start-up scene 2021: Manage a company with flagrant incompetence, treat your precariously employed workers like crap and get rewarded with a massive investment! Unfazed by rider strikes and widespread complaints of poor working conditions at grocery delivery company Gorillas, DAX-listed Delivery Hero has bought a €200 million stake in the start-up. What can we say other than there’s way too much dumb money floating around.
Kanye gets the BER experience
I guess no one told him that the airport is too small to handle the autumn school vacation. And so Kanye West missed his flight to Venice Friday because he arrived too late. Kanyne was spotted earlier shopping at costume store Deiters - and seen on the streets in a creepy Fantômas mask.
BVG has long Covid
Berlin’s transport authority aka BVG - reponsible for the U-Bahn, busses and trams - says passenger levels are back to 80% of the pre-pandemic era. This year, the operator expects a €230-million-sized hole in its finances, reports Berliner Zeitung. With a lot of people opting permanently for “home office”, as we say in Germany, BVG is scrambling to come up with new, flexible ticket deals to draw back commuters who cancelled their yearly passes during corona. BVG boss Eva Kreienkamp also mentioned she wants to extend an U-Bahn line all the way to the airport - but wouldn’t say which one she had in mind.
The Nazis began deporting Berlin’s Jews 80 years ago
On Monday, a ceremony was held in the former rail freight station in Grunewald to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the deportation of Jewish Berliners to Eastern Europe. On October 18, 1941, 1,000 men, women and children were herded into cattle cars at the site and transported to Lodz and elsewhere in Poland, where virtually all of them would die in ghettos or death camps. In a speech, German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “Never again must anti-Semitism have a place in our society. Jewish culture is not only part of German culture, it has profoundly shaped and richly endowed it.”
Hey, everyone’s got a pod these days! Time for a festival reflecting the diversity of the medium. The first PodFest Berlin celebrates podcasts in all genres and languages. The three-day fest kicks off on Saturday, October 23 and promises to be a place to mingle, participate in workshops, attend live recordings and forge new cooperations. Most events take place at the Comedy Cafe in Neukölln. Info and tickets.
We Can Do it Moaning
Want to know what lies behind the anatomy of our mouths? Performance group ABA NAIA transforms sounds into spoken language. They build their rebellion against the patriarchy with the foundation of human voices. It gets dirty. It gets messy. It gets hilarious. It gets awkward. It gets physical. It gets sexual. It stays complicated. You’re invited to a dialogue at the meeting point between science and a new post-porn soundscape when the seductive power of female tones takes over and makes things move. October 28-30 at ET Berlin. Info and tickets.
That’s all for now.
Have a great week!