Accused German Editor Is Reinstated, But With a Female Co-Editor

From a New York Times story by Jack Ewing headlined “Accused German Editor Is Reinstated, But With a Co-Editor”:

The German publisher Axel Springer said Thursday that Julian Reichelt, editor of its newspaper Bild, would return to work after an internal inquiry found that lapses in his conduct were not serious enough to warrant dismissal.

Alexandra Würzbach, who had been running the newspaper since Mr. Reichelt stepped back from his duties on March 12, will remain as co-editor in chief, Springer said. Her duties will include personnel management as well as her previous role overseeing Bild’s Sunday edition.

Mr. Reichelt took a leave of absence after the magazine Der Spiegel reported that Springer was investigating complaints about his relationships with female employees and accusations of abuse of power. He was also accused of using drugs at the office.

The case stood out in part because the #MeToo movement has not had as much impact in Europe as it has in the United States, and cases of powerful men brought down by accusations of misconduct against women have been relatively rare.

The accusations also turned the tables on the tabloid-style Bild, which has the highest print circulation of any newspaper in Europe and has never shied from reporting on the sexual foibles of the rich and powerful.

Springer said Thursday that a four-week investigation…had concluded that, while Mr. Reichelt had mixed his personal and professional lives, he had not broken any laws. The investigation found no evidence of sexual harassment or coercion, Springer said.

Mr. Reichelt “made mistakes,” Mathias Döpfner, the chief executive of Springer, said. “However, having assessed everything that was revealed as part of the investigation process, we consider a parting of the ways to be inappropriate.”

“Even if there is no need to take legal steps,” Mr. Döpfner added, “there is a need for change in the management culture in Bild’s editorial teams.”

In a statement, Mr. Reichelt conceded that he had made mistakes and said he was “very sorry.”

He said he would “do everything in my power to work on an equal standing with Alexandra Würzbach, and work together with all of my colleagues as a team to create and exemplify a new corporate culture for Bild.”

A March 22 story by Jack Ewing was headlined “Powerful German Editor, Accused of Misconduct, Takes Leave.”

Jack Ewing writes about business, banking, economics and monetary policy from Frankfurt, and contributes to breaking news coverage. Previously he worked for a decade at Business Week magazine in Frankfurt, where he was European regional editor.

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